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.
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.