Nero's thumb: now in comments

UPDATE: This feature has two undesirable side effects:

1) significantly increased load times for post pages

2) it puts thumbs up/down on all old posts, not just posts going forward, so not only does it add load times to those, it leaves them with conditions not known by the original commenters.

While it seems this experiment was popular, until can make it work without penalty to the blog overall speed and character, I’m going to disable it. Thanks for trying it out – Anthony

Chronically angry troll Jack Greer left some smarmy comment in the WUWT wins Bloggies Best Science Blog announcement. I didn’t see what it was, because some other moderator snipped it. I suppose Jack can’t help himself.

It did however, remind me that I’ve been meaning to get this new blog feature enabled to try out.

Now, when it comes to other commenters, if you wish, you can be Nero. You can rate comments with a thumbs up or a thumbs down. If you don’t like playing emperor, you can always imagine yourself to be Siskell or Ebert. It looks like this:

Thanks to Jack for the prodding, he’s earned the first ever “thumbs down” vote on WUWT. Congratulations Jack!

You can also thumb your nose at certain comments, but we have no way to record that.

We’ll try this for awhile, and see how it is received. It may be popular, it may not. It may just be noise. But let’s find out. I’ll heed the poll results below:


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Can you also put a sideway thumb?

Keith Minto

I expressed my dislike for this in ‘Tips and Notes”. What next, funny faces?
OK, the heat in Brisbane must be getting to me, but science is a numbers game, how many ‘thumbs down” does it take to make a ‘snip’ ?

I guess a middle finger would be out of the question.
I know [snip]


You’ve just encouraged me to examine your website HTML and reject the most possible javascript includes in my proxy server. Too much eye candy that distracts from the content. And amazingly high school clique like.
Not to be a jackass, but this does not solve a problem I have.


No comment/question in science is good or bad. It reminds me of the sort of things they play at Real Climate or Climate Progress. If you don’t agree with people that are not thinking the way you do, you vote them down. Science does not need votes.
I am against this idea of rating other’s comments.

Bob Diaz

I like the idea of giving a comment a like or dislike mark.
I hope everyone gives this comment a thumbs up. 😉

Al Gored

Hmmm. Not too thrilled with these thumbs. Tend to promote groupthink too much. Prefer not to start reading a post with some judgement already rendered on it. And the comments speak for themselves, to each individual.
And after all, it already was the best science blog in the known universe.
But, I’m just one thumb down.

J. Felton

Interesting idea.
I just had a question. On one of your other posts
I noticed that nearly everybody had a least one Thumbs up and one Thumbs down.
Do they start off at 0/0 , or, has somebody already gone and ” Thumbs Down” every comment they didnt like?
Thanks 🙂
REPLY: They start at 0/0 somebody decided to press all the elevator buttons. -Anthony

P.G. Sharrow

Way too much busy work for me. I have enough trouble working this keyboard and getting my spelling right. pg


I realize that you may not have much flexibility in modifying features that WordPress offers, however I would suggest just having a “Thumbs Up” and no down. That way people can spread kudos for well-thought out posts but avoids the problems that can arise with people piling on to diss posts. It puts in practice what my mother always said about “If you can’t say something nice…”

D Lundkvist

I’m sorry, but things just got a little bit shallower. Where’s the hitcher thumb? Why in the world would anyone rate comments? If a comment is stupid, so be it. I thougt the commentary field should represent a cross-section of peoples minds and thoughts. If comments are plain evil and demeaning, well, then it´s up to the moderator to erase them. Rating comments are in the lines of grooming the opinions like they do in those one-party states, “Think and speak like us and it will serve you well”. It’s only by knowing the “enemy” tricks and tounge speech that you can learn how to argue against them.


Elevator buttons are fun!
But I agree with the above posters, although I gave them all “thumbs down” out of spite. This reminds me of LGF.
Best let the discussions ride as is without possible “cheers and jeers” from the peanut gallery. Let the comments stand on their own merit, or lack thereof.


This may prove interesting but it will take a civilized audience to make it work.


Perhaps in keeping with the Science Blog theme, one could instead have icons for the most common retorts, e.g. “strawman”, “circular”, “ad-hom”… and then a few positives, like “touché”, “well-reasoned”? Although personally, I find the voting buttons a distraction, and they are too often abused.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Now with my dead-slow dial-up connection, I can watch the comments get reloaded, followed by the entire stack slowly expanding as the “thumbs” get loaded for every comment, which takes so long I get a warning about scripts taking too long…
Yet I shall not complain, shall not suggest/demand the feature be withdrawn. I have options. Specifically I have the Adblock Plus plug-in.
1. Open blockable items
2. Right Click on “” and select “Block this item”
3. Filter out “*” and restrict to domain ‘wattsupwiththat-dot-com’
Done! Site is as it was before.
No complaining to the management necessary. I have simply chosen to not participate. Although, I can easily suspend that filter rule if I do choose to participate.
I freely suggest others pursue that option themselves, rather than suggest/demand this new feature be (immediately!) withdrawn when others visiting this site may find it of value.

Science cannot – by voting – be labelled as good or bad science. I enjoy and like to think of WUWT as a science blog where being rigorous and objective is more important than being liked. I would prefer not to see likes or dislikes and try to make up my own mind.

Darren Parker

I have to say I’m against it as well. You get Trolls schooling the system with proxy IP’s

I’ll go with the flow on this. It’s fun, I’ll agree. It’s satisfying to say ban him. But does it enhance the site? Time will tell – it’s Anthony’s decision.

Ken Nohe

Only stupid comments should be thumbed down. If you thumb down “ideas” then nothing controversial will ever come out. That means no science by “popular” vote. Think of what this means for this site!

Robert Morris

Cue second tier moderation of the left v the right and the damping down of plurality of thought and expression.
These “fingers” are such a bad idea, I’m a little amazed you would even go there. But then again, you’ve made this blog into one of the most cherished on the interwebs, so maybe you do know best.

I like it. Often I agree with a comment (or disagree) but have neither the time nor the inclination to explain why. Having the “Atta boy” option is simple and easy. And, hey, there are lots of comments which should be thrown to the lions…and now we can 😉

I think it works well at Jo Nova’s site, but there aren’t as many trolls there as here. It also has the added feature of having colour-coding and a rating.
Give it a go, but here I think it will be abused by trolls.


One of the great joys of WUWT is that you can express minority opinions without being shouted down. Thumbs up and thumbs down will inhibit people from joining in the discussion.

David Falkner

This is why I am all for this feature:
It keeps people (including myself) from posting a comment to show solidarity with another commenter. It can be an exercise in asninity (Bush made up words too, leave me alone) to post a comment just to reinforce the validity or ‘response worthiness’ of another’s position. This feature provides an easy way of eyeballing which noodles stick to the wall, proverbially speaking.

Bob Koss

I think it is a bad idea. Consumes resources and can’t be relied on.
After only a few minutes playing with it to figure it out, I gave the comment at February 27, 2011 at 11:01 pm 4 thumbs up. Now that I know the way it works it could be automated.


Is this a popularity contest? Personally, in certain cases I would be proud to get big thumbs down – when I’m right and everybody else is wrong! ;->
Go ahead and let people vote. I would caution using that info for anything. Some sites let people view the best rated posts. Some hide very negatively rated posts. Here, I think it’s best to just let people have their say no matter who agrees with them or not. Moderators can eliminate the nasty.
From an aesthetic perspective, the rating tool clutters the look. The old way is clean and elegant. Does rating posts really serve any purpose? Novelty wears off.
[VG post. IMHO. ~dbs, mod.]


dp says:
February 27, 2011 at 10:40 pm
You’ve just encouraged me to examine your website HTML and reject the most possible javascript includes in my proxy server. Too much eye candy that distracts from the content. And amazingly high school clique like.
Not to be a jackass, but this does not solve a problem I have.

Vague and yet obscure.


I shouldn’t be too surprised, but blocking all the javascript files (*.js) has not cost any content of interest, but it did drop the page rendering time in half. I don’t agree with those who want something for nothing, though, so when I shut down a site’s revenue stream I go looking for the tip jar.
I’m always amazed at how the dynamics of the web works. A site adds a feature, visitors turn it off locally. It goes around and around. I’d read somewhere that the adblock add-on was written by a disgruntled Google employee who got fed up with the intrusion of web beacons, trackers, analytics, etc. That’s pretty much the way I feel about it, too.


I’m reminded of this:

How about a facebook style Thumbs up/down for the articles instead?
Or maybe make the comments ones a bit less intrusive

I think it’s a bad idea. WUWT has always stressed that it’s real-world evidence that counts, not concensus.


I’m glad that you read my thoughts.
Thumb’s rating is good for the commentators to check what others think about them but also keep in track who’s bothering reading your comment.
I just wish they were positioned right of the title.

Oliver Ramsay

kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
February 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm
“Yet I shall not complain, shall not suggest/demand the feature be withdrawn. I have options. Specifically I have the Adblock Plus plug-in.
1. Open blockable items
2. Right Click on “” and select “Block this item”
3. Filter out “*” and restrict to domain ‘wattsupwiththat-dot-com’
Done! Site is as it was before.”
Thank you for that! My normally fast ADSL is slow and jerky loading polldaddy stuff.
I don’t think I like it, but I don’t really know my own mind. I will wait for guidance from the thumbs.

Louis Hissink

This is a small nit pick but showing the Emperor Commodus (I think I got this right) as Nero is, er , waal, you know, though both were pretty odious characters. But yes, the thumb’s up/down is a polite way of us showing out agreement, not, without the need to write a a lengthy comment.
Brevity is the soul of wit?

David Walton

Laughing my (snip) off. Jack is OK in my (snip) book. Let the (snip), foul mouthed (snip), infantile (snip), (snip) for brains (snip) holes from (snip) hell post all they want on the other (snip) blogs like Real (snip) Climate.


I have had experiences with ratings systems at other web sites… they will get abused, and it is therefore unclear what they measure other than the mob sentiment. I imagine it might also be a turn off for serious scientific posters.
Personally I don’t like them and I shall refuse to use the rating tool here (except for the initial opinion poll).


I cast a “no” vote for thumb wrestling.
If I really disagree with a comment, I can write
a comment of my own, using my actual name, stating my
particular point of disagreement.
If I may make more than my ususal number of spelling
and/or HTML formatting errors, will I get a “thumbs down”
because of my poor presentation or the impoverished worthiness
of my thought ?
How will I or other readers know the difference?
Will we see special awards for what a consensus of “voters”
considered goodthought?


PS> Ultimately the decision is yours Anthony… do you wish this blog to be more scientifically focused or more populist? The thumbs smack too much of group consensus.

D Lundkvist

@Mike Jonas: You nailed it quite good. And, “In science it only takes one to be right”. That’s why I don’t see the purpose of this shallow fun park feature on a science blog.

Is there any chance to have the score kept secret? unless you requested an update? I don’t mind the up and down. I actually like that. I just don’t want to be persuaded by others votes.
The Other Jack


Totall agree with Hoser February 27, 2011 at 11:41 pm


I have an average speed web connection, but for some reason WUWT is always slow to load. The thumbs-up system has increased the page-loading time so I don’t like it on those grounds. I also don’t feel it adds any benefit to the debate.

David Walton

By the way, I have no problem with the thumbs up/down feedback concept. I just think it revealing and appropriate for Jack to make a complete Jack(snip) out of himself anytime he feels he is up to it. I likely won’t even bother to check the thumb data on Jack’s posts or even bother to make a mouse click on his (snipping) posts.

Craig F

I went and made coffee and had a think about this. Then Hoser ^^ pretty much summed up what I thought.
Initially upon seeing the vote I voted yes. I stand by that vote however I don’t see any value in the ratings tool, here or in any website comment section. It’s simply too open to abuse.
Whilst there will be genuine readers, especially those who post infrequently or not at all, who believe that they may be adding in some way to the debate by agreeing with a certain comment’s content the majority of voting will be a simple popularity contest and there will be the usual ‘them and us’ doing the voting. Some may vote a comment down simply because of the author rather than the content and that will work for both sides of the coin. It’s just human nature.
Some people will even go so far as to be vexatious -yes, it would appear that even academics can be childish too – and remove the cookie set by the tool and make multiple votes on a comment to make it appear more or less popular than it might be.
That’s not to say that I disagree with the tool being there, it does offer some loose insight into the number of people reading and not posting, but to take anything of value from the results would be a mistake. They ( the results) are simply meaningless in terms of how persons actually feel about the actual content of the post.
If you were to use the information for an indication of anything I’d suspect that you would have to log the IP of a voter ( something I doubt that wordpress plugins allow you to do ) and determine which way that they vote in order to log those votes that would appear vexatious in order to exclude them from any result you are trying to acheive. I think you see the problem with the work involved.
Then, as Hoser points out too ( I swear I came up with this train of thought independently, honest injun 😉 ) it’s not very pretty and I find the repetitive thumbs a distraction from the erstwhile look.
By all means keep it but personally I think it’s just another tool for certain posters to show allegiance or disdain for other posters without being brave enough to have their head’s above the parapets and at the end of the day that’s a bit churlish. It’s not a survey and not controlled.
And thank you for having a post that does not contain a subject so far above my head that I’m afraid to speak out for fear of appearing to be a great buffoon 😉
( I added the last comment in order to generate the sympathy vote and more thumbs up 😉 )


The thumbs are a great idea. The Guardian has a similar feature called ‘recommend’ which does wonders for sceptics and demoralises Warmists. ;O)

Peter Plail

It will just encourage the trolls to compete for maximum disapproval.

David Walton

What the heck good is a thumbs up or down feature if you can’t load your own comments with a thumbs up?

Craig F

It’s 8:21 here in the UK. I had a late night and I’m barely one cup of coffee in. Please forgive the erroneous apostrophes which are the bane of my existence.

Roger Knights

I like comment-rating because I think:
1. It will encourage commenters who make sensible, middle-of-the-road posts that don’t get any backslapping comments and who worry that they are making no impact. If they get a lot of up-votes it will hearten them.
2. It will tend to reduce the number of angry remarks, or moderate their tone, since people can channel their anger into a down-vote instead.
3. It will provide a better indicator of the true sentiment of this site’s readers. There are sometimes comments made here that aren’t all that supportable, and yet no one wants to get in a tussle about them with someone on our side whose heart is in the right place. Once the mainstream majority here can down-vote wacky or over-the-top statements, warmists won’t be able to claim those far-out opinions represent the consensus here, just because no one here explicitly objects to them. This ability for the silent majority here to dissent from extremism will add considerably to the site’s credibility.


What value does this have? The whole point of this forum is to form your own opinion, it’s not a popularity contest, so the feature is irrelevant and distracting.