Climate science from climate scientists…
Over the last decade, commenting has dramatically moved from specific web-sites to general social media platforms, radically changing how people interact with longer-form content (such as blogs, substacks, newspapers and journalism). No single site can compete with the breadth of audience and engagement that is found on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit etc. This has led to a very clear reduction in the quality of comments on more specialized sites (like RealClimate), as many of you have observed. This is not a problem that appears amenable to stricter moderation.
We are therefore leaning towards suspending comment and open threads on the blog. Feel free to comment on this decision below. If the discussion is good and substantive, it will weigh towards the continuation of the commenting facility. Contrariwise, if it is shallow and unnecessarily hostile, then it is likely to be the last comment thread on this blog. We would still post articles, but anticipate that commentary and criticism will be hosted elsewhere.
As a replacement, we are happy to explore ways to better link to relevant discussions on social media – suggestions for plugins/methods are welcome.
Filed Under: Comment Policy, Featured Story

That would be a pity
A. Simmons says

Concur. I don’t often read the comments, but whenever I have done I’ve learned new things. OK, well, most of the times.
Another angle on it – social media’s time is starting to come to an end. (Controversial opinion I know, but Facebook’s clearly on the long slow slide into the same place as MySpace and Friends Reunited.) I stopped using Fb maybe 5 or 6 years ago and hardly missed it. I recently moved house to somewhere with very poor mobile phone cover, which meant getting logged back into Twitter has been too much of a faff to bother with; again, I find I really don’t miss it. Where I _am_ spending a lot of time these days is the comment section of Jeff Masters / Bob Henson’s “Eye on the Storm” blog at Yale Climate Connections. (Here’s the current post, for instance; comments at the bottom of the page.)
I originally came across it’s predecessor blog (“Cat 6” on the Wunderground site) whilst reading up on current major hurricanes. Out of hurricane season, there’s a very loose criteria of topics discussed – the war in Ukraine is getting a lot of comment at the moment – but climate issues gets a lot of bandwidth along with weather extremes. The quality of comments is highly variable, but you can block idiots and trolls according to taste, and that seems to work pretty well; out of season, there are many with a pretty casual interest in meteorology, but in season there’s excellent signal to noise, and there are srs mets there, for instance the poster who provides their own visualisations of tornado-related observational data from short term weather models. (Look out, Gulf coast of the US, for another tornado outbreak this coming Wednesday…) It IS moderated, but lightly so, relying on users to flag obnoxious or wildly off-topic commenters.
Anyway, my point is that dedicated fora *can* still host thriving communities of comment where the ingredients are right. It’d be a shame to lose them here, though of course it’s up to the admins and operators to decide whether it’s worth the moderation time and effort.
(Perhaps a more light-touch mod system, with the ability for readers to block or filter trolls and chatterbots, might be worth considering?)
A. Simmons says

(Apologies for replying to myself, I forgot the link if anyone’d care to take a look. This is the current post: )
Susan Anderson says

The informal rapid fire nature of the YCC Eye on the Storm comments resulted from a different situation, where many of the commenters are expert meteorologists and information pours in from all over the world about local weather, which is useful to Masters and Henson. It also leads to many thousands of comments.
Also, the negotiation to put in the Disqus comment system took months and there are several admirable moderators. I don’t know if they are paid, but it seems to me the burden of maintaining discipline probably is too much for volunteers; I know I wouldn’t take it on, but that’s just selfishness.
Undisciplined commenters like myself often put in irrelevant material, sometimes related, but that would not suit RealClimate.
Places like AndThenTheresPhysics maintain discipline without burdening people who already have too much to do with the nastiness inherent in modern commenting, where too many people take advantage of their hosts to say whatever they please.
It is not just trolls and deniers, but those who need to pontificate endlessly and often insistently and none too politely about their pet projects and preferences, who have made this comment section so unappealing that few still wish to participate.
A. Simmons says

Yes; I wouldn’t suggest RC comments should be as free-form or variably-relevant as the YCC comments – merely that it demonstrates that a lively community with a shared interest in specific domains can still exist beyond the narrow confines of social media (where, let’s face it, the quality of the comment is often far worse than YCC!) There are others I could point to in subjects as diverse as DiY and construction, planetary science, and IT. No doubt there are thousands of others.
As far as I’m aware, the YCC moderators are volunteers. Whether moderation is employed, and if so how strictly site rules should be enforced, how full-blown governance should be, whether pre- or post-moderation, and the extent to which site users are enabled (or pushed) into moderating their own views by blocking annoying posters, adding a scoring system and enabling threshold-score based filters and so on are implementation details.
The operators of RC may very well think there are much better uses of their time than to try building something along those lines, which of course is entirely their prerogative. We can’t very well ask for our money back!
Hervé Douville says

Dear RealClimate bloggers,
To be honest, I rarely go beyond the main post on your blog and, when I do comment myself, rarely find satisfactory answers to my questions. Although I see RealClimate as a space for free speech, I thus leave it to you to decide whether or not to keep your contributions open for comment. I am also surprised that your weekend post is not about the latest WCRP workshop on Future of Climate Modelling, a good opportunity for interesting discussions about a potential technical drift in climate science and a possible lack of thoughts on best professional practices to contribute to the mitigation of climate change.
All the best,
[Response: Thanks. I will put up a post pointing to that workshop – it was interesting. – gavin]

The open comments is a reason why I read this blog. It gives some quality assurance that diverting opinions can be expressed – or overlooked details pointed out. Without it the impact of your blog will likely diminish, which would be a pity.
Asier Arteaga says

I understand your point of view and agree with the analysis, web participation has greatly moved to other formats; our attention and times are limited. Nevertheless, I think that a blog of this quality of contents can host a discussion level not easily seen in other places. Maybe it will not be as successful as other discussions but can be deeper. The balance of the cost of moderating it and the value obtained is completely yours. So, from my part, only thanks for the work done so far.

POINT 1: RealClimate is really valuable please keep it.
Those of us non-climate scientists who work as the ‘sustainability focal person’ in large companies need a place where we can go to find answers when issues arise or when we get queries from climate sceptics in our company. Often the issue we are asked about are ‘old news’ For these RealClimate’s tagging of issue and its index provides a wealth of information where we ‘lay people’ can find out answers.
I now teach (part time) at a university and recommend RealClimate to my students asa a place where they can answers to Climate Science queries.
POINT 2: On comments
It used to be most comments were well informed. Often the author of the original article did a second one based on the comments and then closed the article to comments. This enriched the information provided.
Now – Vis the 128 responses on ‘Unforced Variations: Mar 2022 the wisdom and good questions are buried in chatter.
So please:
• Only allow ‘authorised people’ to make comments on RealClimate’s articles.
• Have a separate place for ‘unauthorised’ people to make comments and a system for people to become authorized.
That would allow ‘high-quality, informative comments while having a place where those who wish to make ‘noise’ can do so without diluting RealClimate’s information.
Susan Anderson says

good suggestion. I used to value the comment section here, but even with people whose ideas I agree with (generally), it had become a competition to see who could dominate the most, and repeat their insistent views more, with a lot of anger and even insult thrown in.
I will miss the few times real expertise added value to the main article, but without fierce comment moderation it wouldn’t work. And the tolerance of whoever was passing comments through was excessive.
Alan Keller says

Whatever the decision I hope that posting articles will continue. Personally I do not have much of a problem with hostile, factually challenged commentary. It is usually pretty transparent and can easily be skipped over.

Actually I haven’t generally found comments on climate by the public very useful, and don’t usually read them.
I find that unmoderated comments can lead to unproductive back and forth disinformation arguments – this was the case when I used to argue with climate science / risk deniers on a quant finance blog called the Wilmott Forum.
In general Its hard for readers to separate the wheat from the chaff for content, unless an editor puts replies to comments in the comments themselves, and which I know you have done here sometimes, but that is a lot of work.
When I set up my Climate Portal, I made it a requirement to join as a member – which I had to approve- before being allowed to post comments. Maybe some filter like that would be useful here?
I have relied on Realclimate for many years. . Keep going.
Jan Dash
Editor – World Scientific Encyclopedia of Climate Change.
Jan says

This makes me sad, because in most cases when i scrolled through the discussions, i found valuable side information…
Tom Passin says

I am not on any social media, so I would never find any comments on a particular post. I’m probably not the only one.
Mark BLR says

I’m probably not the only one.
You are not the only one (assuming “social media” is limited to the “major” players, i.e. “Facebook + Twitter + Instagram + TikTok + …”).
A. Simmons says

+1 on that. I find it hard to believe any current SM forums would provide for higher quality comment.
Entropic man says

I would vote to continue comment threads. Many of those commenting here have considerable STEM expertise and their comments provide supplementary information to clarify the original atricles.
Barry says

I believe a healthy commentary adds a lot to blog. I have only commented once. – I was confused about the content of an article. Two people responded and clarified the situation for me.
I used to like reading the comments because they added a lot to the articles – particularly when the authour commented, but it has deteriorated considerably mainly because of a couple of trolls . Other commenters (ignoring a rule of blogs- DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS) pile on and a stream of rubbish follows.
Everyone knows who the trolls are. Everyone knows who the genuine commenters are.
It is YOUR site. Exercise your ownership rights, strengthen the comment policy and delete and ban the trolls. Carefully select moderators from volunteers who have shown a genuine interest in the site and let them keep the comments aligned to your policy
Best wishes on a great site – whatever you choose to do.
Susan Anderson says

Without adequate moderation, you perfectly describe the deterioration of this comment section. It the alternative is no comment section, some will lose but it makes sense.
Paul Torek says

I second Barry’s motion.
Karsten says

Yesterday Crooked Timber. Today RealClimate. Yet another marker of the end of the blogging era. The world is not better.
Spencer says

I have occasionally found useful things in the comments to articles, but I would not miss them if they were gone.
Unfortunately twitter threads are now the thing for conveying information and analysis to an increasingly infantilized public. When Paul Krugman moved to twitter you could see it was inescapable (he still posts occasional longer pieces). Alas to make it work would probably take more time and effort than working scientists could spare.

Oh. I miss you already.
Best wishes to you all.
And, thank you for you knowledge, skills and caring attitude.
peter trabant says

Your articles, science and thoughts are what is important. It is your blog, not the commenters, unless they have addition contributions. Please keep posting Gavin.

I suspect that you would still welcome commentary directly addressing a post, not limited to but certainly including corrections, clarifications, or expanding on the topic. It would also be useful for the reader to still have the opportunity to ask questions directly to the author(s).
Regarding your assertion that stricter moderation is not the solution to the low quality of comments problem, here’s a quote from another blog regarding moderation:
Psychology, fascinating subject though it is, can be left for others. If you want to delve into people’s motives or assumed personality problems, insult people, or guess their politics by their scientific points of view then there are much better blogs to go to.. Much more popular blogs. Go there, and let it all out!
With that rubric, stricter moderation could be simplified, provided it is consistently followed.

Not a happy development, IMO!
It is true that the cast of characters here has gotten rather small, and it is also true that we’re getting relatively more heat than light, in comparison with the GOD–that is, the “Good Old Days.”
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t like to see commenting go away at RC. Here’s the value for me:
–The ability to interact provides a learning environment for me, frequently provoking literature search that would otherwise not happen. (Nothing stimulates fact-checking like the desire not to look like a complete fool.)
–It’s a space to share related news, such as the ice shelf collapse I just linked yesterday. (My Twitter and FB afford this, too, but to a different and in general less interested population.)
–I get to learn from others doing likewise; a consistent example is MAR’s monthly updates on temperature anomalies from the major temperature datasets. Occasional examples would be far too numerous to list.
–I love inline responses! I know that moderator responses to specific questions must be limited for time management purposes, but still, the ability to pose them is valuable from my point of view. And the unsolicited responses are frequently illuminating.
Thought: does RC already have a Twitter or FB page? If not, you could link to a leading comment thread head-post. On Twitter at least, it would be essentially self-moderating via mutes & blocks.
Susan Anderson says

I will miss your comments, which always add value. Others in this stream as well …

Thanks, Susan, and I’d say the same to you.
Greg Guy says

Yeah, lots of blogs now move the discussion to a reddit forum. No reason not to do the same here.

I certainly understand the concern. For my part, I settled into “lurker only” mode some while back, mostly because I don’t have the expertise to contribute anything of value to the conversation.
A. Simmons says

I’ve always understood the purpose of RC to be science outreach, i.e., bridging the gap between professional academic scientists working in climate and related fields, and the interested general public. Back in the mid-2000s denialism was (I believe, I have no data) a much greater problem than today; one factor in that improvement is that workplaces, social environments, large family gatherings and so on are more likely to have one or person in the room who knows something about the subject. (I should include social media, too, though debate always seems to turn into valueless shouting matches there.) I for one have certainly been in situations – down at the humble local pub level – where someone’s spouting denialist nonsense, and RC has been a big part in my ability to produce factual information that knocks over specious claims and arguments. The deniers may be rarely convinced, but others with perhaps less strongly-held opinions on the subject _are_ influenced, I believe. (Obviously there are many people better able to do that job than me, but it needs to be able to scale to a society-wide level if we’re to have any chance of turning the supertanker round before cataclysms make denial impossible – when it will be too late.)

I have found many of the comments helpful to better understanding of the material on your site. Perhaps you could cultivate a tailored set of ‘approved’ commenters — based on the past history of their behaviors. I suspect more than a few of those who comment on your site are known in climate studies. It might be difficult to avoid the appearance of creating a tailored audience but that risk would be more than offset by removing a lot of the nonsense that obscures information and understanding. My suggestion might also limit discussion of posts that contain or trigger strong opinions. You cover complex and difficult technical material that sometimes pulls in controversial issues of politics and economics. There are plenty of other sites where people can express their ire and disagreement about opinions they disagree with.
A curious idea struck me as I wrote: How much is jargon used to create a tailored audience for discussion of technical material? As a simple layman I would far prefer having my hollow voice stifled if it meant some of your posts could be expressed more plainly with less jargon. Jargon also works to maintain precision to avoid arguments about the formal accuracy of the statements — but a more friendly and open forum could more easily wave such quibbling aside than a chaotic forum of ideologues and purveyors of agnotology.

I agree with minimizing jargon Mr. Grimm. I use RC and comments to refine my understanding of what’s likely to crash civilization if the tyrants can’t do it first. But reading comments can be a waste of time sorting the wheat from the chaff, or Googling acronyms.
RC’s blogs should persevere. Are its rules too polite? A blog should further unfold a submission too arcane for the reading public at first glance. Perhaps conditions should be that on-topic comments are invited. Ad-hominem aspersions minimized by civility.
RC can’t let denialist trolls destroy the public’s insight into climate change by allowing denialists to corrupt inquiry out of the public’s eye.. Does RC profit if citizens’ discussion disappears because the denialists want to keep the world confused?
Insightful explanations and interesting points tangential to the initial topic are revealed in this blog. Even the denialist trolls contribute in a way – by having their points demolished by the facts.
I don’t use Facebook or Twitter or any other social medium so this is my only insight into how these discussions unfold.
My vote’s with you to keep the blogs and toss the hogs. If a comment IS tossed it would be nice to know.
CCHolley says

I like Tim’s comments and tend to agree, especially these points:
RC can’t let denialist trolls destroy the public’s insight into climate change by allowing denialists to corrupt inquiry out of the public’s eye.. Does RC profit if citizens’ discussion disappears because the denialists want to keep the world confused?
Insightful explanations and interesting points tangential to the initial topic are revealed in this blog. Even the denialist trolls contribute in a way – by having their points demolished by the facts.

It isn’t perfect and I myself am often guilty of over feeding the trolls, but on the other hand, for the most part, there are some really good posters on this site with interesting comments along with some good discussion.
I personally would sorely miss the comment section and reading the insights of many of the posters on this site whom I’ve come to highly respect over the years.
Russell says

I can’t claim surprise since , in the interest of suppressing bloggerel The Climate Wars has entirely declined comments since its inception a decade ago.
The problem is as old as the social network the Winklevoss brothers concieved of as a private medium. curated with discretion and modicum of taste. Unfortunately, the coder they commissioned ran off with the project ,with results worthy of Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Zuckerberg little imagined taking a private medium public might risk a general derangement of public discourse. But that’a what happened, and the rise of choral idiocy among climate bores is but one trivial cultural consequence
Ray Ladbury says

Yes, the discussions of how to rate women on campus were so tasteful…
Susan Anderson says

I will miss your tart observations, which are, sadly, all too true.
Thomas Fuller says

One element you may have not considered is how this will affect the standing of RC with regards to algorythms held by search engines. Commenting is extra traffic and those clicks may affect how RC rates. This in turn can affect how easy you are to find for new or forgetful readers.
Why not ask for volunteer moderators?
Russell says

As Watts Up With That employs a platoon of moderators to assure the good behavior of its commentariat, it should have no difficulty in absorbing another dozen or two, and the migration of RC’s most conspicuous posters there could only raise the overall tone.
They might also be encouraged to expand all their comments to op-ed length for automatic forwarding to Tucker Carlson’s favorite learned journal The American Thinker which has seldom been known to turn down anything for lack of fact checking , including 237 consecutive submissions from Fred Singer alone.
Thomas Fuller says

Given the sustained popularity of Watts Up With That, borrowing some of the tactics they have used is not necessarily a stupid idea. Not entirely sure they use a ‘platoon’ of mods, but whatever…
What is the mission of Real Climate in 2022? That seems to be a relevant question. Is it to publish synopses of the findings of the members of the RC team? Is it to make elements of climate science more accessible to the public? Is it to provide a forum for discussion of climate science and anthropogenic contributions to climate change?
Not that any of those are mutually exclusive, but clear answers would probably answer the question posed in this post pretty definitively.
There are certainly plenty of places for commenters to go and comment. If RC decides to disable comments, Watts Up With That will laugh about it for a week and then life will go on. I would recommend the blog ‘And Then There’s Physics’ as an alternative site that broadly shares the editorial point of view of Real Climate.
Susan Anderson says

The suggestion that RC should emulate WUWT is hilarious. Popular dishonesty vs. serious honest hard working science.

I’ll be happy to volunteer! 🙂
Hank Roberts says

what Kevin said!
> –I love inline responses! I know that moderator responses to specific questions must be limited for
> time management purposes, but still, the ability to pose them is valuable from my point of view.
>And the unsolicited responses are frequently illuminating.
I’d slacked off reading comments because I felt like the comments had become a focus for autobot trolling.
Now that the troll machines appear to have been re-aimed at Ukraine, perhaps quality here will improve.
‘Bot holiday’: Covid disinformation down as social media pivots … › media › mar › bot-holi…
Mar 4, 2022

I use RC and comments to refine my understanding of what’s likely to crash civilization if the tyrants can’t do it first.
But reading comments can be a waste of time sorting the wheat from the chaff.
RC blog could be rescued of course. RC’s rules are too polite. Conditions should be that comments shall be on-topic, Personal aspersions not tolerated, nor shall nonsense be run into the ground.
We can’t let the trolls destroy insight into climate change by corrupting public inquiry into what concerns us all;
or having citizens’ inquiry disappear because the denialists want to keep us confused.
Let me join with others saying that valuable explanations and tangential points to the initial discussion are revealed in a blog. I’ve observed that even the denialist trolls contribute in a way – by having their points demolished by the facts.
I don’t use Facebook or Twitter or any other social medium.
My vote’s to keep the blogs and toss the hogs.
Silvia Leahu-Aluas says

I have been wondering when will you arrive at this conclusion, as it must be exhausting to moderate comments that are ~80% useless or opinions or fiction. Not to mention to try to keep your cool having to read utter ignorant, offensive, negative value comments.
What to do about the valuable ~20%?
A few suggestions:
1. Ask participants to register with their real name and a minimum profile and motivation for contributing to this blog.
2. Have an open thread once per month or less frequently for comments on all topics covered in that period. Any participant who goes awry: off-topic, personal attacks, false info, etc. should be permanently removed.
3. Limit comments by one participant to some low number for every topic. Same with length, comments are not a dissertation, no matter how valuable. For the latter, use guest blogs.
4. Comments are expected to enrich the scientific knowledge offered with such generosity by you and to offer solutions to the climate emergency.
5. Comments can be handled on social media platforms (e.g. LinkedIn, as it is rather professional) through sharing the links to your posts. The person who shares them will handle the moderation.
Thank you for your excellent work.
Ray Ladbury says

Some good suggestions here. In the past, I have argued that requiring commenters to post under their own identities–or even to register them–might result in a less combative tone. Others have suggested to me that people might be reluctant to do so as they fear retaliation from employers, etc. I’m of two minds still.

As a non-climatologist scientist who tries to follow the issue of climate change, I’d vote to keep RealClimate as it is. It’s easy to spot the comments by trolls and simply skip past them.

I think it would be a shame for the readership to lose the ability to interact. Effectively this is a science blog, the scientific process is based on peer review. The bulk of the readership is sufficiently literate to comment intelligently.
Giving readers an opportunity to comment gives them a degree of ‘ownership’ and engagement that helps grow the audience imho.
Gordon Cutler says

I’ve followed RC since soon after it began, and still read all of the posts by Gavin & Crew. I stopped reading the comments threads 3-4 years ago. Between “weapons grade stupidity” (Thankyou, Ray Ladbury!) and Dunning-Kruger, there were not enough sane comments or discussions to keep them from becoming high octane invitations to despair for the human species or self-harm. Even just scanning the threads 3-4 times a year is a chore I haven’t looked forward to. I tip my hat to the folks who’ve continued to engage in that arena.
RC is a marvelous resource, one I’ve recommended many times, so I hope it remains and that posts will continue to be made here. But the comment threads’ information to noise ratio has been too low for too long for me to miss it — although I will miss Ray Ladbury and the others of his rigorous ilk.
Ray Ladbury says

Thank you, Gordon for the kind words. However, others contribute much more than I do. Even some of the so-called trolls have their points–if only we could get them expressed more concisely and with less vitriol.
Steve says

I think the comments sometimes sometimes add useful additional insights to the article.
I hope you are able to allow them to continue.

I understand that the lack of comments may be discouraging but it’s also an area that can offer up alternative blog topics. I find your blog very educational and share when I can, maybe thats’ where the ‘hostility’ comes from? some people thing their word is gold (delusional). I’d still suggest leaving comments open, allow thoughts and questions to be put on the table, even if there’s lots quiet. A room open is always good. 🙂
Solar Jim says

I agree that commenting has deteriorated substantially on your otherwise excellent site. However, since good comments can be informative, please consider simply limiting repeat commenting (eg. two or three) and also limiting their length. Comments should be brief, not ad nauseum discussions or propaganda.
As with many other viewers, I do not use broadscale (anti)social media and will miss informative commentary here. Yet, I acknowledge the relatively recent devolution of the site and, therefore, support taking any steps necessary to rectify an unsatisfactory situation.
nigelj says

This website has great articles and I enjoy the comments threads and hope they continue. I would agree with Kevin McKinneys views on the issue.
Yes you are quite right some people have migrated to social media but I’m not a fan of social media particularly facebook and don’t see it as a particularly good quality platform.
Some comments posted on this website are nonsensical, off topic or abusive. You get that anywhere to some degree. Personally I prefer tougher moderation, but I respect the fact that this website might lean more towards freedom of speech or may not have the time.

be a shame to throw out the baby with the bathwater, particularly when the baby is so uniquely informative. Need a find a way to drain off the bathwater. RC is the best technical website. Don’t go dark on us.

Oh, please keep Real Climate! I can’t cope with all the social media! Thank you for all your invaluable work and I’ll be with you wherever you are!
Robert Ingersol says

I have certainly learned many things form the comments. At the same time I do not see any merit in allowing it to become just another soapbox for lunatics. Couldn’t we have some kind of members only system where participants can be screened and, if necessary, ejected? It could be very exclusive where anyone can read, but only invited individuals could post. (Although I would like to be able to pose questions to the experts.) It seems like there have historically been a few disruptive elements that could have been weeded out at an early point in their careers.
Mike says

Agree with KM that comments should remain, but I can’t find much useful in the comments anymore because of massive “contributions” of a relatively small group of folks. I suggest recruiting a small number of volunteer moderators from the commenters to help with the moderation. This website has a problem with commenters that could be solved rather easily.
I use facebook but found it impossible until I started blocking folks who were trolling or simply enjoyed argument for its own sake. I am too old for that foolishness. Facebook jail does slow some people down. I wish I could hush/hide some folks here. It would make the experience more useful.
I think if you post more than 10 to 15 comments per month here, you are likely engaging in useless back and forth. Pleas to engage in self control or to starve the trolls have not been very effective in my opinion.
But, whatever you choose will work out fine. It’s not the end of the world.
Cheers and thanks for the website and work behind it to this point.
Russell says

Rather than ration comments, RC might impose a per capita limit on free pontification of say 5,000 words a month, whic amounts to a book a year,
jgnfld says

Yes, there have been obvious changes in the comment streams and many not for the better. A relatively static set of trolls is bad enough, but a relatively static set of various single issue posters is perhaps even more deadly. And, truth to tell, I rarely spend much time on the comment streams any more. But that could change as time goes on and things change again.
As a result, on the whole, I think they should be continued. They do provide additional interest from time to time.

I vote to keep the comments but spend a little more time moderating them.
Stephen Berg says

I agree. Strict moderation to weed out goofy contrarianism, science denial, and misinformation would be ideal.
Carbomontanus says

To all and everyone
To my opinion, in my wiew, the climate question has got 2 horizons or aspects.
Not pro & contra like dia- lectic materialism must have it in order to teach and instruct and arrange……
……but REALIA & HVMANIORA., the left and the right hand, the left and the right eye and with a brain brirge in between.
“There is no natural iron curtain between reason and opinion” along with pope and professor emeritus Josef Ratzinger (he is really very old now) ; “both must behave. And by danger of collision, opinion must re-sign , with-draw and give way to reason!”.
( Dia- lectic materialism never understood this. In their religion / to their beliefs and opinion, , Matter gets created, is being mooved, and is getting anihilated again by the holy liturgy of Contra- diction. By class racial political national struggle and regional & global racial bloody class warfare. )
Which alltogether is a politically perverse state- religion that fights the permanence of matter, of energy, and of the electric charge in the climate.
Das Kapital, Capitalism, is no solution to it. It teaches that matter is ruled by one and only one, invisible and greedy hand. Handicap them. REALIA is in charge on that, not virtual reality.
But for HUMANI)ORA, =how do people react to this, We need The Peoples Voice however vulgar, contrarian, wrong, sovjettic mad, confused, psychotic, and sponsored.
We also need that ever and ever “I am no scientist… but…!” together with all those large and professional psevdo- orthodox and inaugurated, teaching spindoctors and trained quacks from the Grand old Progressive Party with P ( = the PPP)…. in order to be able to evaluate and to trick out and to study climate HUMANIORA also.
And for that, the Blog Comment File is really very appropriate, useful, and valuable.
I will really miss it if it is closed down.
I could study HVMANIORA in the monthly “Climate pizza” meeting for open doors, in Downtown Oslo arranged by the climate- surrealists until they closed down due to frustrations and Corona. SIC!…. how I miss it
But your Blog- comment file here has been quite a substitute with allmost as many typical fanatics missionaries, Claqueurs, drunken sailors, inaugurated professional cheaters and spin-doctors from the Party quote. in the provincial Universities. Grown up through and later dismissed/ retired from the GESTAPO.
It is valuable for our necessary studies also of Climate- humaniora.
I will miss it
Thus, better keep it up as long as possible.
nigelj says

Carbomontanus. You appear to be saying that its important that climate blogs like allow comments to be posted by a variety of people with a variety of views and beleifs and a variety of academic backgrounds. And no censorship of opinions and information. Bring all the crazy stuff out into the open to be discussed, even if we disagree with it or its all a little bit of a chaotic process. And that discussion and debate is good.
If so, then I agree with you 100%. Its very healthy to do that. If it troubles people or is of no interest, there is the scroll wheel.
Personally I find website discussion like a bit better than social media like facebook. With facebook there can sometimes be so many comments its bewildering and unhelpful and comment quality is no better than here.
I believe website moderation should just be to keep discussion reasonably polite and roughly on topic and to stop denialists spamming the place with repetitive, irrelevant nonsense. When the denialist trolls get boring, put them in the bore hole or crank case and they are still having their say so are not censored.
Carbomontanus says

I have got the impression on several websites that “moderator” is unqualified, is lacking higher formation and reads and interpretes rather in terms of narrow minded low grade military, political and commercial sales promotion backgrounds. They react and behave alond with what I know about strict and militant secteric party background and membership. And using virtual intelligence because they lack capacity of reading and understanding and judging.
Interference on that level does cause the soviet union syndrom of industrialized dilettantism. and the websites dry up and vanish like a Warsawa- treaty. Or a Putin invasion of Ukraina.
certain websides that hadly interferes with what people write on the other hand, develop into a situation where people meet each other and begin discussing anything else that rather interests them, and they moderate themselves. If we only get down to common experience and interests, quarreling ends.
And no virtual intelligence and severely professional “moderator” can guess peoples minds and thoughts. Common peoples bloody (racial) souls experience and heritage and class is not understood by Marx, Lenin Thinktank, or any other artificial or virtual robotic model of mind.
I was at my doctor today, who put me on some very simple scientific tests of my tiny brains, my tiny codfish and crocodile brains. as if I were a fur animal and higher vertebrate, which I am. And I could easily understand it, so I am lucky again.
I hate SENSOR behind the iron curtain doing anything similar because he / she is not qualified.
It is picking into and violating our flesh and bodies, which causes unnecessary, instinctive denial and agression.

Hashtag #RealClimate on Twitter … Go!
Jerry Unruh says

I value realclimate for trusted information relative to the climate crisis. I seldom comment and only occasionally read comments. However,, I do think that comments on realclimate are several cuts above most blogs I read. I leave it to your decision.
zebra says

1. This is for all the people who want the comments to continue…. but never/very rarely make any themselves. I think you have to take some responsibility for the current sad state of affairs.
I have often used the term “hypothetical” applied to what I characterize as a “sincere student/lurker” (antithesis of troll), because comments that indicate sincerity are so rare. Often, even when you get one, there’s no feedback as to whether a question was usefully answered. Some form of response would be polite, at least.
And feedback can include further questioning/challenge, as long as it is an attempt to have a real scientific discourse… to me, demonstrating what that would be like is the most valuable thing that could be conveyed to visitors who are trying to sort out the conflicting information in other media.
2. For all the people who can’t seem to restrain themselves from filling up the column inches in ways that perhaps discourages participation of others, I would suggest some self-reflection.
We all know that excessive consumption is a primary cause of climate disruption; if you can’t get enough of responding to JDS, or having your endless musings “published” for free, perhaps you are more like those F-150 commuters than you like to think.
Instead of putting the burden on the moderators, how about just taking a pledge, in public. Don’t feed the trolls, and state a limit for yourself.
Write less, say more. Give others a chance.
nigelj says

Zebra. Your approach to teaching is good because it makes people think. However please do remember this website comments section is not just a classroom. It is also for discussion and debate and sharing information and promoting ideas. We all find some of that of no interest to us, or too lengthy, but that doesnt mean its not valuable to someone else. I scroll through some things.
Richard the Weaver says

“If everyone” is a grand start for most any scientifically absurd thought.
Statistics works, dude.
Greg Guy says

The problem is that the comments are used to do something that the blog-comment model was never set up for, namely to facilitate discussions. The idea was for the author to interact with the readers. Answer their questions and even update the article based on their feedback. Instead what we get is that the author ignores the comments, while the various commenters argue amongst themselves over something completely irrelevant.
Discussions are best relegated to newsgroups. Ones that allow threaded conversations. Blog comments sections are nothing of the sort. Maybe set a limit on the number of total comments allowed per article, the size of a comment, and the number of comments people are allowed to make – ideally to 1.

The Lord gave – the Lord took away.
For a forum, the pain of parting is limited.
The gradual total loss of creation due to unstoppable global warming will cause us completely different pain
– the countdown is on.
Eric Guilyardi says

Hi Gavin et al.,
Comments and discussions are for me an integral part of RealClimate. Over the years, it helped me understand a number of contrarian views, their logic and learn to deal with them.
I understand it can be tiring on your side but it would be a pity to remove them altogether. The suggestion above of authorizing some users to post comments is an interesting idea although that would clearly take some more time.
Thanks anyway for this great blog.
Steven Emmerson says

Apropos the idea of using social media for commentary is this recent article in Science on the utility of Twitter.

♠ Comment threads stacked full with unsciency bish-bash-bosh are less than useful for any but the most dedicated of readers, and not a credit to a science site.
♣ The Bore Hole has become a very quiet place. Back at its inception at the start of 2011, the Bore Hole sported 50 contributions within its first ten days and there were 224 comments dropped in by 27th March.
This year, by 27th March there are but two.
That such reject comments are available in the archive demonstrates a level of honesty with the site.
And if some comments are perhaps misplaced in the Bore Hole, they could still be discussed in-thread if commenters thought it appropriate (although they risking the Bore Hole themselves with such on-going comment).
♥ Honest ‘off-the-street’ questions at RC are usefully answered, not least for the answerer in addition to hopefully the questioner and onlookers.
And a bish-bash-bosh-free comment thread actually addressing climatology would be good.
Given ♠, ♣ and ♥, I would suggest RC continues as-is ,while rigorously adopting the moderating rule “If in doubt, bore-hole it!!”

@mar – ” bish-bash-bosh — If in doubt, bore-hole it!! ”
– then you should be able to find there also your own bosh-bash-bish :
Susan Anderson says

If all RC comment sections were as thoughtful and related to the subject matter as this one (with one notable exception, a person solely occupied their own “wisdom”), it would not be driven to this pass. Absent some fierce moderation and limitation of the endless arguments and troll-feeding, we will all lose the added value that is provided by so many.
I gather that RC does not have the resources to hire somebody and provide strict moderation guidelines, with real punishment for promoting lies, feeding trolls, insult fests, endless self-righteousnessness, etc. We get what we deserve when we act without awareness of others, differences, and self-restraint, let alone the difference between honest science and its mirror, the denialo-sphere.
People who endlessly comment and maintain continuous arguments should start their own blogs, not piggy-back on this immensely valuable site, “Climate science from climate scientists”.

Keep the good and lose the cranks.
Susan Anderson says

Easier said than done. It’s easy to lay burdens on other people’s shoulders.
Russell says

An amendment to the proposed limit of 5000 words a month:
The Commentariat should be allowed 120 responses a month , and any in excess of that limit should be automatically Bore Holed
Commenters who exceed 10 responses a day deserve special notice, and automatic consignment to a new Bore Hole archive , The Crank Shaft.

Killian says

I think maybe you haven’t moderated a blog site, Russell? That would be a huge amount of work, potentially, and, imo, largely unnecessary. Numbers of posts aren’t the problem with only one or two exceptions. There is one person here who comments on almost literally everything, and everyone’s comments. Too much. The signal to noise matters. If you post that much and are a genius, have at it, otherwise maybe a little self-control and self-awareness.
But, really, it’s easy enough to notify that user to slow their role and a hell of a lot less work than what is proposed in your post.
Russell says

Surely you jest.
All it takes is code.
Twenty or so lines of Java might suffice to justly direct climate bores to the Bore Hole , and climate cranks to the Crank Shaft , while giving both bold italic notice of their impending doom if they transgress the Screed Limit.
Killian says

I doubt very much you could create a screening that wouldn’t regularly screw up which is which. That would take some real sophistication.
Russell says

“I think maybe you haven’t moderated a blog site, Russell? ”
As is all too often the case, “Killian” is really , really wrong..
I took a decade to decide that , as idiots are always with us,, it would be idiotic to encourage them. if they think they have thoughts worthy of publication, let them deal with the rigors of peer review or , as many others have remarked , start blogs of their own and face the consequences .
Killian says

As is virtually always the case, Killian is really, really not wrong. As is virtually always the case, The Peanut Gallery is really, really wrong.
I made no declarative statement about whether you had or had not. Your comment was, in my opinion, naive. It suggested work be done that would take a LOT of moderating time. The context, after all, is moderators, not altering code of the site. You said nothing in your post of coding, so I had no reason to assume that was what you meant. So, *rather than assume,* I asked. I did not claim.
So, as is virtually always the case, the response to Killian is really, really wrong. Mine to you was polite, on topic. Yours was flatly rude and antagonistic.
Par. Thanks for exemplifying exactly what has drug these fora down since 2015.
Carbomontanus says

So you have “moderated” a blog site?
I thgought it was so mething, but not exactly that. But that may be further betraying of your bloody syndrom.
Vaclav Havel did publish on it, SENSOR behind the iron curtain, and did psychoanalyze and ridiculen him especially for his fanatic pedantery and lack of learnings about REALIA and humaniora and bloody religious political racial war and etnic rinsing against all that.
Several other fameous philosophers and authors have also done the same
. I have studied that a bit as a necessary part of my profession, and taken my learnings from them.
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