Speakin’ out

Over recent months I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated at the efforts by a tiny minority of commenters to derail discussions by trolling or wandering off-topic. I have always wanted Hot Topic to be a place where a wide variety of views can be canvassed and discussed, but unfortunately the actions of a few have the effect of making civilised conversation all but impossible. I have therefore decided it’s time to have a formal comments policy: outlined below, and on the Comments Policy page (in the menu under About at the top of the page).

Readers wishing to post at Hot Topic will now have to create an account and log in before commenting. Many regular readers will already have accounts. Please don’t create duplicates if you can avoid it — if you can’t remember your log-in details email me (gareth at hot-topic etc) and I’ll reset them for you. This will, with luck, reduce the incidence of sock-puppetry and drive by trolling, as well as help to control spam.

The most important feature of the new policy is that comments must be relevant to the subject of the post below which they appear. Off-topic comments will either be moved to the most recent open thread, or to a new repository for the effluvia of the terminally bemused, The Twilight Zone. I will only delete comments that are obvious spam, legally dubious or obscene.

The intention of the new policy is not to stifle debate, but to make honest and intelligent discussion possible in the face of efforts to derail it. All views are welcome here, but if you want to question the basic science of climate change, do it in an open thread or under a relevant post, and do it in good faith.

Comment policy

Hot Topic has always encouraged a vigorous exchange of views on matters relating to climate science and policy, but there are some basic rules that all commenters should adhere to. Broadly speaking, comments should be “legal, decent, honest and truthful” — that is:

  • not libellous or otherwise actionable at law,
  • not offensive or obscene,
  • represent honestly held opinions or views, offered in good faith (ie not deliberately “trolling” for a response),
  • not deliberately misrepresent matters of fact.

Vigorous debate is encouraged, but reasonable standards of politeness should be maintained.

Commenters may use pseudonyms, but must register with the site using a legitimate email account and log on to comment. I will not “out” users of pseudonyms, nor permit the use of email information by third parties.

Multiple personas, aka sock-puppets, are not permitted.

Comments must be relevant to the topic of the post to which they are made. Open threads are provided from time to time to allow for open debate. Off-topic comments may be deleted or moved to an open thread.

Comments that fall foul of any of the above policies may be deleted, or moved to The Twilight Zone, a thread reserved for tired old trolls and bores.

[Neil Young]

30 thoughts on “Speakin’ out”

  1. Yes, so far, watching the Bore Hole @ RC, the very Deep hole @ Deep Climate, Greenfyre’s Dunce corner, the Rabett Hole … this is a Very Good Thing, and blog software providers should be encouraged to make it as easy as possible.

  2. Note, as ohters have done, and I just noticed Policy Lass’s “the Penalty Box” (Canadian), you might consider putting Twilight Zone as a tab at top, as such do make good reading now and then.

    In comment policy, there is typo “encourage” and you might want to link to twilight zone and suggest people look there to see what to expect.

    1. I’m hoping it will be less work, DW. The regulars will get the idea quickly, and I will have the tools to deal with people who want to derail discussion — like “tom” and his attempted diversion away from the real news in Bryan’s Road to Ruin post. Luckily, the plug in I use that allows comment editing also makes it very easy to move comments.

  3. Its a pity the site can’t be kept open but there are a lot of anti people about plus businesses with a vested interests. I read a good blog about the companies that specialise in generating multiple identities for companies who want to make it look as though they have more support than they really have. Can’t remember where I saw it but it gave a better understanding on what is going on.

      1. That Monboit article is very scary. What does the US Army want cyber robots and trolls for? I wonder if this activity has fueled the cyber generated counter govt protests in Iran, Egypt, Tunisia etc.
        Possibly adds cred to Govt claims in those countries of there being outside interference.

      2. I have seen exactly the same argument put forward on sceptic blogs. In particular, with reference to the Campaign for Climate Change (CACC) of which Monbiot is a founder.

        This campaign provides daily emails with links to sceptic blogs, and presumably is an invitation to trollery.

        However, I have seen very little evidence that there is any actual co-ordinated campaign on either side.

  4. Hi Gareth: I like the new comments policy and I understand the rationale. But you should have run a naming competition. If it isn’t too late, I’d suggest “The Puff Parlour” as appropriate. Another one is “Blowhards Den”. Maybe other friends have good ideas?

    1. So there is no further interest in any sceptical viewpoints? You reject all viewpoints other than those officially sanctioned by the IPCC and WWF?

      Is this the viewpoint of the Royal Society of NZ too?

      1. Come now John, I make my posts as a private citizen, just like you. Yours can’t be work-related because we don’t know who you are. Anyway, I am interested in skeptical points of view as long as they are genuine and not obfuscatory. Skepticism is an essential part of scientific inquiry and I consider myself to be a skeptic.

  5. To delay the changes required to move towards a sustainable future where our future generations will look back not hating us for wrecking the planet but commending us for doing our bit and making the sacrifices today required to make their life possible.

    1. Thomas

      I am doing my personal bit. I cycle where I can. I work from home when I can. What exactly am I doing that is preventing the above?

      And how, exactly, do you propose that we go about the rather vague statement that you put forward? Do you propose that we tax everyone out of existence?

      1. Hi John!
        This was more a general comment towards to hard core deniers – not directed to you personally – who’s denial has nothing to do with a thoughtful skeptical argument over matters of science but is entirely based on their cornucopian paradigm which puts the “right” to personal consumption and enrichment today above any consideration for the rights and hopes of future generations.

        These hard core deniers (example many US republicans) deny the state of climate science knowledge not because they have actually done any science or can produce any peer reviewed science that argues otherwise but because they see the politics of climate change mitigation and adaptation as entirely opposed to their right wing political and philosophical agenda. For them the consequences of climate change mitigation and the dominance of the scientific arguments smell like an abdication of their power to “liberal greenies”. Accepting the results of climate science is for them like accepting defeat in their war against socialist philosophies, social responsibility and inter-generational responsibility.

        So they employ very well funded campaigns of lies and confusion to prevent the public from forming a strong unified opinion demanding change.

        Their aim is to derail and delay public consensus and democratic decision processes on our route to a sustainable tomorrow. Shame!

  6. Unfortunately the freedom of the internet has become it’s own nemeses. One solution is regulation and licensing, another is having to prove who you are before you can comment and I just don’t mean an email address, I mean prof as in the eye of the law, this would then give a lot more credibility to you’re site Gareth, as it would to other sites with comment treads.

  7. Hi Gareth, now when I post a comment it says: “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Do all comments now require your moderation on top of the required log-in? This would slow the dialog down too much I would think.

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