Moderation policy

I am going to introduce a moderation policy, partly so that those who comment know the basic ground rules and partly so that I can try and be consistent. Ideally, I’d like the discussion to be civil. I do, however, realise that this is a contentious issue and that frustrations are inevitable. So, I don’t mind a bit of snark and maybe some strong words. What I would like to see avoided are vitriolic, personal attacks. I’d also like people to try and give the benefit of the doubt, at least initially. Maybe engage in a manner more consistent with how one might engage face-to-face, rather than on an online forum.

There are, however, some things that I would strongly discourage. These are

Libel: If you’re going to accuse someone of something, either have evidence or make it very clear that it is your opinion.

Ad hominems: As I mentioned above, what I would like to see avoided are vitriolic, unpleasant, personal attacks. As they say, play the ball not the man.

Thread-bombing: As much as I enjoy getting comments on my posts, try to avoid bombing a thread with lots of unrelated comments. Try to stick to one conversation at a time.

Answer questions: If, during a conversation, someone asks you a question, either answer it or explain why you’re unable to answer it. Don’t simply change direction. It makes it seem like you’re trying to avoid an awkward question.

Being disruptive: If you’re going to make a comment, try to make it constructive and in context, rather than simply a comment aimed at disrupting a thread.

Evidence: I would like to avoid lengthy discussions about contentious topics such as the behaviour of climate scientists and others. If you do wish to introduce such a topic, you’re going to be expected to provide some fairly convincing evidence. A couple of emails between a few individuals, is not going to qualify as evidence that all climate scientists are devious.

Some news: Rachel has, very kindly, offered to help with moderation, so I won’t be the only person able to step in either and help to keep commenters from straying too far from what’s expected.

So, that’s it for now. This could continue to evolve with time, but you probably get the general idea. If anyone has any other suggestions, feel free to make them. I should also acknowledge a level of bias. I’m clearly on one side of the debate and as much as I would like to be completely unbiased, that is probably unlikely/impossible. I may well have more sympathy for those who’s ideas are backed by actual scientific evidence than those who’s ideas are not. I’m not suggesting that I definitely will be biased, simply that it may be impossible for me to completely hide my scientifically-backed biases. I’ll do my best to be as balanced as possible as long as those making comments do their best to appreciate that I’m simply trying to do the best I can. Also, there is just me and so I can’t guarantee that I’ll always be available to intervene and moderate all discussions.

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