Open thread – what could we do better?

open_threadIntrospection is always a good thing, and with that in mind, the suggested topic today – what could we do better at WUWT? Some background first.

I get lots of requests to change things, do things differently, or if you listen to some people, just shut down altogether; because they simply can’t tolerate an opinion contrary to their own views that gets as much attention as WUWT does.

One of the great things (or not so great depending on your viewpoint) about running a successful enterprise like this is that it now has other blogs dedicated solely to taunting that success, much like Obama has invoked taunting more than half of the citizens of the United States who have a different view from him on climate change. I see such blog spawn ( I need to update that page as there are more now) as a measure of success; flak, target, and all that.

A few caveats about things I can’t change right now that I often get asked about:

1. I can’t offer comment editing post facto, to do that I either need to spend $500/month to use the WordPress Enterprise feature (which I tried on invitation and decided it was not worth the price tag) or run on a self-hosted server. Since I don’t have time to chase down script kiddies and bot attacks like Lucia does, staying on WordPress.com is the only real option.

2. I can’t do research for people. Every day I get emails asking me to do research for questions, or go to some blog/newspaper/magazine and offer commentary to counter somebody in comments. I simply don’t have the time, I’m sorry.

3. I can’t change what ads popup on WUWT. They are entirely controlled by wordpress.com. That said, they are also contextually based on your browsing behavior. If you are getting ads that you think you should not be, chances are you’ve been pigeonholed for some reason. Clearing your browser cache/cookies always helps. That said, there was a rogue advertiser this past week that attempted to do re-directs. Alert readers alerted me, and I alerted the wordpress management who booted the advertiser.

4. Climategate 3 file dump: lots of people have looked at it, searched it, and scoured the output – there was nothing new there of any value.

Now that I’m asking you to air your opinions and ideas about what we could do better at WUWT, I’m going to air mine about those of you who comment here.

What I’d like to see different about readers and commenters on WUWT:

1. Saying “off topic” and then posting an off topic comment doesn’t actually make it OK. We have Tips and Notes (see menu below the header) for that.

2. I’d like to see less cryptic comments (like from Mosher) and more in-depth comments.

3. I’d like less name calling. The temptation is great, and I myself sometimes fall victim to that temptation. I’ll do better to lead by example in any comments I make.

4. I’d like to see less trolling and more constructive commentary. One way to acheive that is to pay attention

5. I’d like to see more click-throughs on science articles. I note that articles that discuss papers sometimes don’t get as many click-throughs as articles that discuss the latest climate inanity. While such things can be entertaining, bear in mind it is important to keep up with the science too.

So, tell me, what could we do better, do different, add, or remove from WUWT?

Please be thoughtful and respectful in such comments.

Thanks for your consideration – Anthony

 

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coalsoffire

I’d like to say a word in praise of Mosher’s cryptic, drive-by, snarky, annoying comments. They do generate a lot of blog comments. Poking the hive gets the bees buzzing even if it does no real good.

Got only a second now, but the very first thing that comes into mind: don’t allow fallacies. Don’t go down to the level of the opposition. Keep on the high grounds.

I have two things, one very minor and one not so minor to me.
1) First the very minor issue. Please, someone, figure out why I can not make a comment with my wordpress account like I have done for at least two years. Now I have to use my Twitter account. (I have never tried anything else but the buttons at the bottom)
2) My more important change would be for there to be less censoring and name-calling of those who just don’t buy the present “greenhouse” theory at all. I have not bought the CO2 warms us since the 80s and don’t see any reasonable reason to accept it other than to make arguments more acceptable to the majority. —- But the majority is wrong. See the predictions of those who think the sun is not the main driver of climate on the earth.
Mainly, I think the site needs no real change. Hell, look at how popular it is now. Look at the Bloggies it has won.

Warren Bonesteel

In your articles, don’t trash talk anyone. Ever. Don’t just be professional. Set the standard for professionalism. Just present what the other side said and then present the facts. e.g. ‘He/they said…’ then, ‘Here are the facts & here are the references and resources.’
Offer opinion pieces separately and identified as such.

Oldseadog

Regarding “can’t change No. 3”, advertisments, since I cleared my cookies and browser and started using DuckDuckGo, instead of Yahoo, via Firefox, I haven’t had any ads following my browsing behaviour. I seem to be getting ones from Sky for some reason, though, and I have no contact with them of any kind. Strange.
Otherwise, just keep up the good work.
Thank you.

AnonyMoose

It’s hard to find things here. I hope you can activate the Relevanssi plugin.
There is a lot of old unorganized information, but I don’t know of a way in WordPress to weave it together other than by creating pages which summarize and link to stuff.
[wordpress.com does not allow third-party plugins. if they did we’d have a comment editor. the wuwt toolbar (see download link on the right sidebar) has a better search engine – mod]

Would it be possible to construct a textbook “Guide to What We Know of Earth Climate Systems,” with subsections discussing things like CO2 forcing, solar forcing, anthropogenic forcing, historic climate records, evidence from geologic investigations and ice cores and tree rings, and so on? If such a textbook book already exists, would somebody point me in the right direction?

John S.

Does not offering post facto editing without a pro account include not being able to preview comments before the “Post Comment” button is pushed? I jump back and forth between many different blogs and forget which ones require greather than/less than to bracket HTML, and which one requre braces to bracket HTML, so a simple preview would at least let me see the folly of my ways.
As far as format, content, and presentation, don’t change a thing. Your last tweak to leave more headlines on the home page was good, but since I use an RSS reader to see new posts it never affected me one way or the other.

Harry Passfield

What could you do better? I’m gonna bang on about a bete-noir I have when viewing the blog on a tablet (I have a Nexus 7 as well as a laptop).
When the comment string is 100s of comments long, on my laptop I merely press the ‘end’ key to get to the bottom and continue reading (up) or leave a comment; but on my Nexus I have to finger scroll (for evah!) to get to the end.
So, why can’t WordPress come up with a screen that allows the user to navigate to the top/bottom of l-o-n-g comment thread? As I have said before, I know I can use ‘find in page’ but I’d need a unique ‘find word’ to use to get me to bottom or top. It might help, as a work around, if such a word(s) would be identified at the top of the blog so that users can do a ‘find in page’ with confidence.

John

I second Mark Stoval’s comment #2. I don’t buy the CO2 greenhouse gas theory – at all. I have a science and engineering background.
I would like see a constant effort to encourage exploration and proof, or disproof (is that a word?) of this theory. At inspection, in pure geometry terms, it doesn’t pass muster.

Two simple changes…
1) Change the site’s theme to a Magazine style theme.
2) remove every advertisement. Pure annoyance.

richardscourtney

Harry Passfield:
re your request at June 15, 2014 at 8:56 am.
I suggest you use the Ctrl-f function to find specific words or phrases.
The top of a thread can be found by going to Responses to
and
the bottom of a thread can be found by going to Leave a Reply
I hope that helps.
Richard

dccowboy

Is it possible on WordPress to offer ’emoticons’ for inclusion in posts? It may not add much intellectual value, but it would be more entertaining and people could use a /sarc emoticon or others to clearly identify their intent.
I often find myself quoting Lt Savek from one of the Star Trek movies, “Ah, humor, it is a difficult concept.”

It works. So dont change it.
If you want to improve comment quality, best way would be stricter moderation of off-topic, cryptic or namecalling comments.

Grant

I’d like to be able to reply directly to a comment and/or read a thread of replies. I think it would focus discussion.

1-Stick to science more so than personality or politics. The science speaks for itself.
2-Encourage more scientists to participate in article discussions.
Dr. Leif Svalgaard does that and most of us learn more from his comments than from the article they were made about.
3-Encourage climate scientists to author their own posts explaining their research and results.

Mike Graebner

Here’s another one: thread the comments. Even my site manages that trick.

Perig

WUWT is, in itself, a topic of discussion among the Crusaders of Climate Doom. When a WUWT article is criticised somewhere notable, it should be rebutted, imho. I’m not saying such rebuttals never happened, but the Crusaders should feel that they’re on notice just as much as the idiotic mass media who parrot alarmist pseudo-news, which are made fun of regularly here. There could even be a ‘WUWT on the web’ section in the WUWT site. I’d expect this strategy to limit the sheer amount of comments after WUWT articles.

Pamela Gray

To tell you the truth, I like it just the way it is. Yes, the ill-supported references to things like, “It’s all the fault of public education…”, riles me endlessly. But even that is part of the beauty of this blog. We get to see the badly written comment as well as the thoughtful one, regardless of who’s team you are on. The range of well-supported and not-so-well supported comments is as useful as the post they arrive from to cleanse the real issues. They are the mixed bag of real and fake that, when burned by the fire of so many eyes and ears, destroys the fake from the real and now hardened metal thus solidifying a more defensible and lasting conclusion.

Eliza

It works 100% but I advise not to make comments about other skeptical sites which may seem to be a bit extreme especially on other skeptical/lukewarmer sites. There is one site in particular which has minions to record the fraudalent activities of NOAA, BOM ect with 90% accuracy using graphs ect and 100% accuracy with old articles of what was said and done (ie “there will be no more ice” quotes just as an example etc. Its easy to get excited especially after a few drinks.I number 1 guilty. Mistakes can be made occasionally with data but they should be seen against the invaluable services provided by such sites (ie SG) LOL

Grant has an important point: it should be possible to reply to comments.

Bill Parsons

I’d like to thank Dennis Wingo for his excellent article in WUWT a few weeks ago, describing his plan to re-activate the International Sun-Earth Explorer Satellite as part of a joint project with fellow NASA employees. As I understood it, the ultimate goal included using the experience as part of an educational exercise for young STEM students.
Dennis’ project was recognized on the front page of the NY Times this morning.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/science/space/calling-back-a-zombie-ship-from-the-graveyard-of-space.html?_r=0
As host for such articles and such people, WUWT can’t do much better than that.

I thought wordpress DOT com allowed disqus/livefrye code/plugins as it pushed site loads away from their servers and onto the disqus/livefrye servers.

Greg White

I would like a resource that I could share with folks who fully believe in CAGW, but really no nothing about it. Just the basics. Most of the folks I talk to think Co2 makes up some large % of the atmosphere and it’s increase alone is what is warming the planet. Also they fully believe the whole extreme weather thing. It would have to be easy to understand and accurate without question. One of your guest writers might volunteer to start the page and readers could fine tune it in the comments section. Here’s an example, I told a friend who thinks he knows a bit about global warming that no scientist on either side thinks that CO2 increase by itself can create enough warming to warrant any fear, that the little bit of warming it can generate has to leverage water vapor through positive feed-backs to create the kind of warming to be fearful of. He refused to believe this. So basic, but so important when you talk about models.

Bert Walker

What Warren Bonesteel said, I agree

Steve from Rockwood

Resist the urge to change.

Steve from Rockwood

Forgive those who off topic. Often those posts are timely and tips and notes takes a long time to load with our small town Internet provider.

John M.

I like it just the way it is, too. I come here often to read what you have to say about the latest climate nonsense in the news. WUWT is a go-to place for that, and so much more (sea ice, CET, ice core dating, etc.). And the comments stream is funny, informative and restores my faith in humanity almost every time. My son has used the website in 8th grade to test what he’s being taught in science class, and making his teacher a little upset in the process. You people are the best!

Harry Passfield

Hi Richard Courtney! Thank you for your input. As much as I value your comments on WUWT I don’t think I am in need of an egg-sucking tutorial: I like to think that my 30-odd years with them makes me a computer literate. 😉
CTL/F does not apply to a tablet (unless you can show me otherwise). I have already sussed that doing a ‘find in page’ (on a tablet) for “Leave a reply” covers my needs to get to the bottom of a long thread but it is a) reliant on personal knowledge; b) long-winded; and c) not a very good systems design solution (something I spent too many years doing).

Bruce Foutch

For all: Please be clear when talking about temperature or labeling a temperature graph to say if you are talking about actual temperature, about temperature trend, or about temperature anomaly. For example, when discussing the pause: Are you talking about a no change in actual recorded temperature (Max/Mean/Min), no change in the rate of change, or a movement away from a reference value.

Could it be possible to number the comments? When I leave the site and come back a couple of hours later I find it difficult to return to where I left off. Numbering would help alleviate this problem.
Otherwise WUWT is terrific as it allows alternative opinions.

Pamela Gray

Please don’t imbed replies to individual comments. I am a linear thinker and would not be able to think in such a nested compartmental way. I also think imbedded responses would increase the tendency for comments to get off the issue at hand.

tteclod says: “Would it be possible to construct a textbook “Guide to What We Know of Earth Climate Systems,” with subsections discussing things like CO2 forcing, solar forcing, anthropogenic forcing, historic climate records, evidence from geologic investigations and ice cores and tree rings, and so on?”
I’m writing an in-depth book as we speak. But I am not going to bother with paleoclimatological data. I do not find it credible.
I had hoped to complete it by September, but that may slip since I’m writing and preparing illustrations in my spare time.
Cheers.

Mike Mangan

More boobies! Works for the Daily Caller, eh?

Bill Parsons

5. I’d like to see more click-throughs on science articles. I note that articles that discuss papers sometimes don’t get as many click-throughs as articles that discuss the latest climate inanity. While such things can be entertaining, bear in mind it is important to keep up with the science too.

It would be interesting, entertaining and informative to know how you know this.
REPLY: My wordpress stats page shows me stats on each article. – Anthony

richardscourtney

Harry Passfield:
re your post at June 15, 2014 at 9:43 am.
I see no reason for your snark. You asked a question that others may also want answered so I took the trouble to provide an answer. If that answer is not appropriate for your specific equipment then it is possible to doubt your choice of equipment.
Richard

Richard Howes

Encourage more alarmists to contribute empirical evidence of CAGW. Let’s stop belittling them, and spur them to share the evidence that they have, beyond models, that we are causing the world to warm, or change, or disrupt, or whatever the claim is. Woops, there I go belittling them again.

pochas

Ask this question again next year. But for now, don’t do anything.

I have two things that “weigh on my mind” all the time, every time I come to Wattsupwiththat(TM).
Number 1. Is the seeming “dis-interest” in the concept that one really does not understand the heat balance of the Earth, unless one starts calculating the “heat content” of the Atmopshere, and..of course the oceans. (As a side bar, the FLAT heat content of the oceans, particularly the first 1000′, via the Argo bouys is very telling, that indeed there is NO SIGNIFICANT WARMING of either the Oceans or the atmosphere, WARMING MEANING AN UPWARD SHIFT OF THE HEAT CONTENT OF THE ATMOSPHERE, in absolute terms.) If this were tackled more directly, which of course…leads to the concept that watching shifts in the tropospheric “temperatures”, is very meaningless as a metric for the “heat balance” of the atmopshere, we’d be doing real “science” (and engineering) rather than allowing the “herd” to dictate reality for us.
Number 2. A vigorous pursuit of the actual “lines of code” for the atomspheric modeling programs.
There are plenty of us who have PROGRAMMED (I dislike the modern term, “coding”, it obscures things…but I do know Fortran, Cobol, C++, Java, Perl, Cold Fusion, even “machine language”)…enough to start looking at the wonderous (in their own minds) atmospheric codes.
I rather suspect, one of the reasons a lot of these places are keeping these things covert, has nothing to do with ownership, rights, obligations to financing agencies, etc. But rather, if they are open and above board with them….it will become transparent to the world how full of bugs, assumptions, and outright “stupid” errors they are and expose them to be fundementally useless exercises in futility. (But gosh, great things to keep your “grant funded, graduate slaves” working on, while you the “Perfesser”, live in luxury. (Note: Not a personal attack, but a more generic attack on the “academic clique” involved in the “climate change” money laundry scam…)
Clarity on both of these matters would vindicate WUWT for eternity, as far as I’m concerned.
Max

CRS, DrPH

Pamela Gray says:
June 15, 2014 at 9:18 am
To tell you the truth, I like it just the way it is.

I’m with Pamela on this one. The rough & tumble debate we have is very valuable “peer review” of news of the day, scientific claims etc. And, the mods do an excellent job of filtering out the off-topic stuff, trolls etc.
We posters are equal participants, so I believe we all have a constructive role to play in WUWT. Be sure to hew close to the scientific topics, avoid name-calling (for the most part, sometimes it is fun to wallow in the mud!), ensure that our posts are not duplicates elsewhere in the site, and always strive to educate everyone. This is a widely read resource, we all play a role in its excellence. Thanks for your hard work, Anthony, Mods, and contributors.
Best, Charles The DrPH
p.s. RIP REP!

Patrick Sullivan

Well it’s an excellent site, but since you ask I’d say the number one thing is that WUWT does have a fairly high barrier to entry to casual and new followers (am I supposed to know who Lucia is?) A lot of cryptic abbreviations, a lot of inside-baseball references to various climate figures by one name with no identifier. For the cognoscenti, it’s fine to speak of Judith’s paper on TSI. But I assume you don’t want this site to only ever be of use to several thousand hard-core readers who have followed every post for years. There are any number of people I’d like to refer to various posts here, but so often the posts and their references are just too abstruse for the uninitiated. I don’t mean the science, and you can’t and shouldn’t dumb down the physics. But the presentation.
Related to the above is something that also touches on what Warren Bonesteel pleaded for: professionalism. It sounds insulting to imply that there’s anything amateurish about the site, but of course there is at times. Specifically the frequent cartoons which combine several flaws: the above-alluded-to tendency toward cryptic references to warmist and other figures that are now household names, the somewhat primitive humor that is employed, and the general air the cartoons gives the site of not being 100% serious.

Please remember that you have a wide international following, some posts fit seamlessly to non American audiences but some are so irritatingly Americano centric, sorry you did ask.

Tucker

There are so many things I love about WUWT, and so very little that needs changing. The only thing that annoys me and feel harms the quality of WUWT is the high number of comments on some articles that are not productive to the conversation. I’m talking about those comments where the poster feels they are being cute with some spiffy, clever one-liner that pokes fun at an Alarmist and/or idea. On some articles, over half the responses seem to be of this variety, and it detracts from the scientific nature of the site and the reading enjoyment of others.

Concur strongly with the recommendation above to add a linear number to each reply after the “says” phrase.
This will allow the advantages of a chronological order, yet permit a much simpler logical focu to the previous conversations.
Most advanced application of this method is within http://www.freerepublic.com
Below each comment is an automatically numbered sequence number within that thread.
Below each new reply to a comment is an automatic link to jump back up to the full comment.
A reader can “Reply to” the particular comment, but can also add other readers who may be interested in that reply.
Each reader is identified by login_id, but – when a person logs in, there is a separate page available that identities every new “Reply to” that user.
Thus, below Pamela’s suggestion above, there is a comment number “37” which is a link to that specific reply.
I can “Reply to” 37, Request a Moderator’s attention to 37, reply to ALL (who have commented in this thread), or GoTo 37 (just to read it or copy a phrase or paragraph, or GoTo Article.
Upon logging in, Pamela can go to the normal WUWT screen, but has an alert “New Replies”. When she hits that alert, there is a list of people who have “Replied to” her comments, one of which of course, is my reply to her Number 37 here. If she hits that link, then my asnwer to her Number 37 is displayed in this thread.
Willis, for example, might only get 3 links to his comments displayed. 8<)
DBStealey may be 68 and Leif 124. Pamela may found 548 reply links. Each user will get different amounts, but each user will be able to immediately return to every one of their answers and conversations.

David Ball

Pamela Gray says:
June 15, 2014 at 9:18 am
On/topic: I agree with your first sentence :”I like it just the way it is.”
Off/topic: You are a teacher, but do not have children in school yourself. I can tell you that taking my children out of public school ( where there were 30-35 kids per teacher ) and moving them to a private school has transformed them into completely different children (now confident A students). Ill-supported, my ass.
In public school the motivation to label (especially boys) ADHD is funding driven, coupled with an overburdened teacher who could not possibly cope with 30-35 elementary school age children on his/her own. There is a systemic problem in the school system that you can ignore at North America’s peril. We are producing a generation of scientifically illiterate children.
In conclusion, there are many holes in the science of climate and weather and I am glad that Anthony allows all sorts of assertions to be presented, but you better bring your A-game. Post with certainty about ENSO, AMO, TSI, etc., where in reality we have no idea what truly drives these, and their global implications and resultant effects ( i.e.not enough data ).
It is clearly not Co2, but the suns effects have not yet been ruled out, despite what Pamela (Leif) tells you, because all the blanks have not been filled in.

harkin

1) DIRECT REPLY – At first I didn’t like that you could not direct reply to comments but after considering I think it discourages flame/troll wars. Keep it as is pls.
2) TRASH TALK/NAME-CALLING – agree with whomever said above the less the better. Leave that stuff for the people who have nothing else to offer.
3) ADVERTISING – Have never once found the ads here intrusive. Please keep as is (and to anyone who says get rid of them, learn how the internets work).
4) MOST OF ALL – I really like that (most of) your posts are strict science but that they are written to be as easily understood as possible by college-science-educated but non-scientists such as myself. This site is one of my favorites, please keep up the great work!

You don’t need to change a thing. You need to solicit support for a movement that the informed public can contribute to to advance the truth on climate topics, This needs to be done with the same or greater fervor that those in opposition to that message enjoy. If this doesn’t happen, the logic of your position will continued to be steamrollered. Many news reporter are quick to link every event to global warming. How do you stop this? By a counter comment every time it happens.

Doug

Try to separate science and politics. It really is possible to support Obama’s health care reform efforts and loathe his scientific ignorance. There people on the fence with regard to CAGW who would benefit from this site, but they do not trust a source which reads like a tea part manifesto.

Paul Coppin

WUWT is many things all at once, and I think, with the resources at hand, especially the hands of people, it does the best job that can be done. I’ve often said that I believe the time is right for WUWT to create a collateral, online, peer-reviewed (eek!) scientific blog-enterprise to publish new, or re-evaluated research on climate, and allow the peer review to occur withinthe published blog-journal in real-time (after initial review for basic soundness). Many times real science is expressed and theorized) in the comments and is often equally obscured by the colloquial and anecdotal commentary (for which I am no less guilty). There is a true and valid place for both, but it is the very devil to sort out for those of us who are technically trained but not presently topically engaged.
As others have said, it is frustrating to not have the time or opportunity to consolidate the collective wisdom that flows from a introduced topic. Other than a 36 hour day and infinite income, I don’t have an answer for this last point, other than to find a way to meaningfully segregate some of the science out of the discourse, as I previously suggsted.
To an extent, the parallelism already exists between WUWT and Climate Audit. I think the two of you (Anthony and Steve) together, along with the legions of allies out there, could create a new, third alternative that might form the foundation of a brand new means to communicate real science, out of reach of the agenda-prop.

John Boles

You and the mods and the contributors are doing a mighty good job here, the ads are a necessary presence, easy to tolerate, maybe tighten down on comments a bit but the site has a good reputation for being tolerant of dissent, as (real) science should be. I am happy to have found WUWT!