Weekend Open Thread and Poll


I’m busy with other things today, so an open thread is called for. I’m also asking readers to consider a question.

Topics from previous open threads are fair game, such as the poll on a climate skeptic society.

Some people have asked about threaded comments again. We’ve tried them before, and they weren’t popular…but maybe now that some other blogs have tried them (notably Judith Curry’s) perhaps people are more comfortable with the idea here.

The advantage of threaded comments is that replies to specific comments appear in context with them and it makes discussions easier because there is less scrolling involved. The disadvantage of threaded comments is that not everyone follows that convention, and some comments become orphans, way down at the bottom of the pile.

The difference is nested comments in context vs. one long linear string of comments.



newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Jim Cripwell

I would like to ask people to comment on the limits that the warmists put on estimates of climate sensitivity, however defined. They somehow estimate a probability density function, (pdf) whatever that is, and seem to claim that this pdf is the equivalent to the sort of +/- values one gets when one makes a proper measurement. Do these limits have any meaning at all? I cannot understand how one can put limits on an estimate, or from what I can see, is actually little more than a guess.

Theo Goodwin

The downside of threaded comments is that they encourage hijacking of a thread (or several threads). I realize that my claim might seem counterintuitive but my experience tells me that it is true.
I think WUWT has the best discussions on the web and it would be a mistake to change the format.

Jimmy Haigh.

Unsure. They’re OK but you can’t tell when the comments were posted. if I was going to ever come up with a blog hosting website I would make the comments sortable on time. Why not have tab sort of thing like Windows Explore or Outlook where posts can be sorted on time, subject name, commenter name… I’ll share the profits…

The disadvantage of threaded comments is that not everyone follows that convention, and some comments become orphans, way down at the bottom of the pile.
I find that disadvantage to be a major one. It also results in trolls more easily hijacking threads. you wind up with these long strings of two people screaming “did not” and “did to” at each other and you have to scroll through them to find new comments worth considering. I find threaded comments to be very disruptive to the flow of the discussion, particularly on posts with large numbers of comments.


My experience on Climate Etc (where only one indent level is allowed) is that it’s worse than a straight list where ppl can quote as well as link the date-stamp and permalink if they wish.
Theading at C.E gives the impression of threading without actually achieving it.
If there were several levels it may work better.
I attempted a discussion with John Kennedy following my article on HadSST. With the best will on both sides it was an uphill struggle to follow even our own comments. On several occasions we just broke of and started again at the bottom.
Reply notification may help but with high volume sites like CE and WUWT, you’d want to be feeling really lonesome before turning on comment notification.


I find both formats good and bad. I want the choice.
In the 21st century, is it really too difficult to allow the user to set the option? Come on WordPress!

Jimmy Haigh.

That reminded me – time to make a donation to WUWT. Come on lads, it’s worth the price of a pint every now and then, isn’t it?


there is less scrolling involved.
we’re all pretty good with copy and paste….
….no need for threaded at all
..for all of the above reasons

Jimmy Haigh.

But here’s my – somewhat political – Open Thread question: When the asylum seekers have reduced their chosen countries of asylum into the piles of dust and rubble from which they sought asylum: where will they go next?

I voted no
But I would ask if possible to put the latest comments on top and not at the bottom to reduce scrolling required if you want to reply with a phone device

It would be great if the reader could chose whether last comment on top or first comment on top
If that were possible


As background: While I’m skeptical about AGW, I don’t follow the issue too closely.
The way I think of the starting point issue (“Is there global warming?”) is something like this: temperatures have probably been higher than usual in the 1990s and 2000s but not as alarming as the very spiky hockey-sticks.
When I put this to a friend recently, he said that Mann’s hockey stick has been confirmed by the “PAGES 2K” study and pointed me to this link: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/07/08/2261531/most-comprehensive-paleoclimate-reconstruction-confirms-hockey-stick/#
Searching, I found a post on Climate Audit that questioned some data used in the PAGES-2K study.
So, my question is: was the hockey-stick right after all? not right, but not that off after all? or what?
Is there any post that refutes the arguments made in the thinkprogress post to which I linked?
thanks for any pointers to a newbie

I don’t understand the question – how will it change from the present thread??

Chad Wozniak

I think threads are helpful for focusing discussion, but I also like the occasional open thread as it facilitates discussion of issues not raised by Anthony or guest commenters when setting up a thread on a given point.

I opposed, because it makes it easier for trolls to hijack threads as others above had noted. I’ve seen comment threads on sites that have nothing to do with science or climate get hijacked by global warming fraud proponents. A lot of them self-identify (“Where did you get that – Fox News?”), but they also follow the radical left pattern of debating ad nauseum over trifles, avoiding relies and going off on tangents. The bottom line for a web site without deep pockets is that both greater bandwidth and full time comment policing are needed.

No, no, a thousand times no. (It would be easier if figured out how to game the poll….)
In those other blogs, I tend to visit them fairly occasionally, and like the threaded format there.
WUWT is special – I have a Firefox window just for WUWT. The first tab is for the home page and links to recent posts. Other tabs are for each active post I’m following. To get up to date, I reload that page, and the the oldest comment I have read is right there to read. Then I scan down to the bottom and am all set for the next update later in the day.
If WUWT switched to threaded displays, I’m not sure what I would do. Probably read each post one a day or write a python script to convert things to the time line (and discard the trolls). Hmm. That would be useful. I could highlight comments from people proven to post quality, just display a couple lines from the riffraff….
Okay, it’s a plan. Still a thousand times no!

What I don’t like about threaded comments is that you can’t find the new comments easily. With a site like this, where there are sometimes hundreds of comments, it’s easy to scroll down to where you last were, going by date and time, but threaded comments would mean having to examine them all again in hunt for that extra. Not just once, either, but again and again. I pop in here a lot and enjoy following the conversation. It would mean starting from scratch each time, which I won’t always do, so I (for one) will miss a lot of it. It will be frustrating. I vote no.

Steve Oregon

I vote no on the change. Horrible idea, IMO.
I understand the reason some like threaded comments but I have found them to be a net detriment. It maybe good for the particular conversation participants but it ends up burying new comments requiring more scrolling in order to check to see if new comments have appeared.
It’s next to impossible to easily check for new comments.
I have people ask me if I saw their reply in a thread and say no for that reason.
I had not scrolled down to check every conversation. And some require you to expand the thread for more comments to check.
I always recommend posting a new comment vs reply to others.
Simply refer to the comment you are replying to just as WUWT has been.
Otherwise your discussion gets buried and ends up being a private debate because all of the new visits have no idea it is taking place. How would they unless they checked the entire stream.

The root of the question is that there are people that make no effort to read ALL of the replies/responses/retorts before adding their own. I like things just the way that they are. And thank y’all for this most pleasant forum.

David Ball

I voted “no”. If it ain’t broke,…..

I have spent a lot of time at threaded Climate Etc and threaded CA. I have spent a lot of time here at unthreaded WUWT and also at unthreaded BH and Blackboard.
I prefer the unthreaded format. It is a simple flowing read.
I voted to keep WUWT the way it is; unthreaded.

F. Ross

I voted NO.
It has already been tried on WUWT for a while and, in my opinion, was not an improvement.


I had read somewhere that if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased the temps wouldn’t, because the amount of CO2 that is already in the atmosphere has already reached it max heat trapping potential. Is that correct? (apologies for the unscientific terminology).

Mickey Reno

Threaded commenting at Judy Curry’s site is poor, only allowing one level of depth. This can help a little. Jo Nova has threading down on her site. If you do implement this feature, please emulate Jo Nova.
BTW, thanks for putting the “Recent Posts” sidebar near the top, and expanding the number of entries. It makes finding a recent article that’s a few days old, much easier.

Jim Cripwell

Leigh, Re saturation of CO2. I suggest you read an expert, Roy Spencer. Go to http://www.drroyspencer.com/2014/04/skeptical-arguments-that-dont-hold-water/ and read 5.

Michael Gordon

I vote for status quo, one long list of comments. If I am replying to another comment, I identify the writer and the sentence for context, but WUWT ought not to be a forum for private conversations between two persons both of whom have strayed far from the topic.

Tom Moran

George Will on warmunism…


Thanks Jim.


Lesson learned: people resisting change are more vocal 🙂


The advantage of threaded comments is that replies to specific comments appear in context with them and it makes discussions easier because there is less scrolling involved.
Seems to me that would make more scrolling? You would be missing all of the other conversations if you didn’t…….
We copy and paste….and include that in the new post….MUCH EASIER


The only feature I’d really like to see is the ability to reply directly to a comment. I visit another site where when you reply to a comment a link to the comment you are replying to appears in your post and when you hover your curser over that link it pops up so you can read that comment as well if you wish to.

I see that a few people have anticipated my main reservation about threaded comments. It concentrates the power of trolls to hijack the discussion. The troll does not have to scroll through the more interesting posts to see the reactions to his bomb-throwing. I think threaded posts would have to go hand-in-hand with much heavier moderation than the current fairly laissez-faire regime. Perhaps only those who are specially approved should be allowed post more than once per day, to prevent the inevitable “Is NOT!” … “Is TOO!” death spiral.

John Boles

One long list of comments because each list is a thread for that article, and less mouse clicking to read comments.

Ed Mertin

We’re number one! we’re number one! What’s that, we’re number two?
The latest numbers now show that China will overtake the US as world’s largest economy by the end of this year, this is five years ahead of schedule. Despite the constant bleating from the Right over the last 30 years predicting China’s inevitable collapse, China continues to push ahead with policies that we haven’t seen in this country since the Eisenhower administration.
China engages in massive infrastructure projects, pro growth trade policies and the development of all types of industry. They are utilizing everything that the US had learned about economic development all the way back to the Hamilton plan of 1792. China learned from Lincoln’s expansion of the railroads and land grant colleges, and from everything FDR did with the New Deal. Basically China is doing everything that America had done in the past but no longer does because billionaire Conservatives say that we cannot afford it. The Liberals (in name only) just go along with it fearing the environmental impact boogymen of expansion?
It’s a bipartisan boondoggle that’s cost us plenty and made things difficult. Like for the Millennials. Those Millennials that everyone is so unpopular with.
They just keep cranking out the boondoggles, like the farm bill. Joining the Gramm Leach Bliley Act, Commodity Futures Modernization Act (Gramm).
Ed, coming to grips with what it means to be number two, at least until we fall to number three

Robert in Calgary

No Thanks.

R. de Haan

Although I rarely venture to add a comment on WUWT, if a post has particularly caught my interest I normally read most/all the related comments over time.
Not so with Climate Etc.
I invariably read JC’s posts but have pretty well abandoned the comments, often in the hundreds by the time I get there, and as others have already said often veering completely off course with pointless nit-picking/squabbles which destroy thread continuity.
I like JoNova’s layout/numbering system where if the original comment catches the eye one can choose to read responses or not, but I imagine this is a totally different blog system to WordPress.
I would prefer WUWT to stay just as it is !

Johan says: May 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm “Lesson learned: people resisting change are more vocal:”
The conservative anti-progressive majority silent no more! Hoo rah!

Mike Jowsey

@ Leigh says: May 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm “the amount of CO2 that is already in the atmosphere has already reached it max heat trapping potential. Is that correct?”

I surmise that the Global Warmers, along with Al Gore, noted correctly that CO2
keeps us warm, but thought wrongly that more would make us warmer. The analogy
with glass is important. Horticultural experiments long ago found that more (thicker)
glass does not cause more warming, so more CO2 probably doesn’t either. The effect
is like that of polarising spectacles, where the change takes place as light begins
passing through the lenses. Thickness makes no difference. Polarisation is either
100%, or not at all.

Dr. David Kear

I really love this place, and the commenters, and come here to learn. If I come with that frame of mind, and patiently read the article, and each comment, I am always richly rewarded. The people who write here in the comments seem to be perfectly capable of making stand-alone comments, even when it involves a to-and-fro. This means the format here works, because quotes are taken, italicized, and then a comment follows. It makes for clarity and posts that are complete in themselves. It is a compliment to the posters.
There are times when I know that several acres of texts are going to be added to the thread by certain people on certain subjects. But they know who they are. It does dominate threads, but I do not think the format should be changed, because that is already against the policy. We usually can trust each other’s self-restraint. If a person has posted more than a certain fraction of the total posts, and many posts also contain that person’s name in response, then it could be pointed out to him, eg. “You now have 25 posts out of the 75 on the thread.” So I voted no for those reasons. Jo Nova has a good nested format though, for the abundance of those nutty Aussie one-liners, and that works over there.


I wonder how many trolls are hitting “YES”…………

the problem I have had with threaded, or nested, comments is the levels of nesting allowed. You have a threaded comment, and then comments become threads of their own, and then subthreads of those and soon you run out of thread and it goes flat. So — my suggestion would be either unthreaded or only 1 layer of nesting.

Since this is an open thread, two things:
1. The Labor Party in Australia is considering a debate of dropping their official desire to institute democratic socialism. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/bill-shorten-willing-to-cut-labor-ties-to-socialism/story-fn59niix-1226905286140#
2. The new North Pole web cams are in place. You can substitute 2014 for 2013 in the links in the sea ice page to see them.


Irrespective of causation what is wrong with moderate ( + 3 to 5 Centigrade) global warming ?
Comsider the greatest biomass and diversity of life lies within the tropics. There are no deserts on the equator (barring the Horn of Africa).
Meanwile the poles are nealry devoid of life. Warmth good, cold bad. And CO2 is the basis of photosynthesis

Ed Murtin says:
“Despite the constant bleating from the Right over the last 30 years predicting China’s inevitable collapse”
Excuse me? I haven’t heard that from anyone on the right, just the opposite in fact.

If you do implement nested comments, it would be a good idea to move the recent comments widget to the top. The two work in combination.

John Slayton

Whether threaded comments result in more scrolling may depend on individual practices. I happen to follow TonyB’s practice, when returning to an extended thread, of starting with the last comment and scrolling up to where I left off previously. That gives me complete coverage of where the conversation has gone, without scrolling over previously read material. Doesn’t work with (threaded) CA, though, where I have to scroll all the way back to the top to make sure I haven’t missed anything.


As crosspatch suggests, the worst feature of threading is infinite bifurcation. I think one nested layer only is the ideal compromise — particularly if the replies may be folded or unfolded at will. that allows more efficient scanning for topics of special interest to the reader.
Commenters can (and should) learn to reference an idea from another thread in starting a new branch discussing what was previously a detail or subtopic by moving it back up to the top level, even quoting some or all of the earlier post to start the “new” or less directly related thread.
That’s why I voted for (minimalist) threading. I am not a troll (nor a witch for that matter).


I much prefer the arrangement here to the ones at Climate Etc or JoNova. As an original proposition, I would have chosen theirs, but, for reasons I haven’t been able to pin down, I find theirs annoying in practice.

Charles Nelson

Unthreaded comments mean you have to work a little harder to follow an argument. That’s ok.
Threaded comments mean that bickering, snide people can have a big long tirade right before your very eyes.
Part of the ‘dignity’ which WUWT possesses is due to the way comments always seem so rational and cool in tone…don’t throw that away.