Over the past month or so, I’ve been pleased to see the number of comments grow on my posts. I want my posts to spark discussion, because I don’t have all the answers when I write an article. Readers are encouraged to post a comment or send an email or tweet if there is something interesting and constructive to say. Unfortunately, not all of the comments have been “good”. A lot have been nasty, either attacking me or other readers, which does nothing but derail an otherwise healthy discussion about science, and I fear, dissuade others from commenting.
Our blogs editor, Bora Zivkovic, wrote a lengthy article about blog comments, and I’ve been thinking about how to cultivate a better sense of community on my posts on ‘Plugged In’. Go read it and come back.
So from here on out on my posts, I’ll be actively moderating comments. I want you, the reader, to feel comfortable to post your thoughts, ask questions – basically to further the discussion! It’s my hope that more readers will feel comfortable to comment without fear of being flamed.
Now, there's a thin line between trolling/bullying and a normal comment, but here are some things in particular that will not be tolerated:
Name calling, insults, personal attacks
Conspiracy theories. Enough already!
Debating established climate change and anthropogenic global warming science
Links to Watts. Seriously, this is a science site.
Things that are encouraged:
Links to other scientific articles, papers, reviews
Data and facts (!)
Questions for me or other readers
Technical or professional experiences about a topic
The “bad” comments are mostly on the climate change posts. (Seriously, what is it about climate change that riles y’all up?) But this policy applies to all topics. Hopefully it makes for a healthier discussion, and maybe some of you who have been holding back on commenting will feel comfortable to do so.
Frankly, I don't want to waste my time reading comments about conspiracy theories, or how climate science is a cult or equivalent to religious dogma. But I will read them in my inbox long enough to delete them and spare everyone else. There are more important things to discuss, like the intricacies of data that world class scientists report, or new technologies and challenges - not theorizing about some Stonecutters-esque cabal that makes up bogeymen for research grants.
I'm also thinking of other ways to discuss the posts and topics that we talk about here, perhaps moving some discussions over to Branch, because dialogue is important to the scientific process. I'm open to suggestions and would love to hear your thoughts/experiences.
If you have a problem with this policy, take it offline and email me.
As always, thanks for reading. - David