Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sucking thumbs

A few days ago, when Ethon flew in with the news that Prometheus was taking a sabbatical, Eli promised the mice a thumb sucker. Well, we have been sucking our tasty thumbs all weekend, and this is it.

There have been both posts and and comments across the usual links (see our link list for examples) about these goings off, and the universal truth that emerges is that Prometheus made his comments a much more boring place when he invited Eli to take his bird shove it. Not only yours truly, but Dano and others, who, when invited to get up and leave, left. What remained was, with exceptions (Tokyo Tom, Fergus, Steve Bloom) an amen chorus, considerably to the denialist side of Prometheus hisself but one whose care and ego feeding the lad fell to with dispatch.

A successful blog requires a community. The community can be broad, snarky, fracticious, single channel, or whatever, but for people to keep coming back the comments are more important than the posts, the posts are what attracts the comments. For example, Real Climate posts attract hundreds of comments. A good bunch of anonymice allows the owner operator to figure out what interests the audience as well as the management and set out tasty fresh bait. A blogger (IEHO) should only inject himself into the comments when absolutely necessary

Rabett Run has very different goals than Prometheus or Real Climate. It is quite meta-science, in the sense adopted by Nisbet and Mooney (Rabett was there very early), discussing how the debate is being manipulated with the goal of informing the side of truth, justice and yes, we are screwing ourselves and our children. There are also a bunch of comments on the science of climate change and a few other things. The tone ranges from snarky to bemused (theory and practice can differ as can perception). Climate Audit and Deltoid also do not seek to be universal.

Prometheus had very different goals. It sought to become the meeting place for climate policy discussions and the climate science that shaped that policy. Its success required that everyone would go there, posting, commenting replying. It would have worked, had Roger loosely held the reins rather than trying to control the discourse. For example, he could have had a revolving set of posts by Landsea, Trenberth, Webster, and himself on the hurricane issue. The comments could have been a free for all, with the occasional behave yourself. It would have required that Roger accept some pretty strong criticism, but in the end that criticism was what strengthened interest in the forum and differentiated it.


Anonymous said...

"It would have worked, had Roger loosely hold the reins rather than trying to control the discourse."

You hit the hail on the nead.

Near as I can tell, Roger patterned Prometheus after the Greek Oracles -- where he was the Oracle and other people came for advice.

That would explain why he felt obliged to reply to almost every post -- a habit which was absolutely hilarious at times because he had so many different conversations going on at once -- and not all of them were even on topic. It made my head spin just trying to follow all the different threads of conversation sometimes.

It would also explain why he would rarely (if ever) admit that he was wrong. After all, Oracles are omniscient -- and therefore always right.

EliRabett said...

Oops, changed hold to held in the text. Eli's bad....

Anonymous said...

One of the other problems with Pielke Jr. is that he was sometimes wrong, but always confident. There's an example over at Deltoid which documents RP Jr. complaining about researchers doing something that Roger does himself.

In this case, it's laundering grey literature.

Anonymous said...

Oracles are never wrong (and never admit it when they are).

"laundering grey literature"?

At least he remembered to separate his white panties from his red blouses.

That would have been a real disaster.

Anonymous said...

Down in the comments at Climate Feedback, Pielke puffs up in self-righteous indignation when his laundering is pointed out.

Catching Pielke in hypocrisy is a "smear" and Pielke adds in his signature chuckle at yet another "misrepresentation" of his work.

Read it through and come up with your own opinion.

Mus musculus anonymouse

C W Magee said...

"A successful blog requires a community."

So are you saying that those of us with low comment blogs should take a hint from Dr. Colorado?

Why don't they give technichal staff sabbaticals?

Anonymous said...

A vacuous blog (one with no comments at all) is far better than one with vacuous comments.

And I believe that there is a very good reason for not giving the technical staff at Universities sabbaticals: nothing would ever get done (and I mean nothing)

Anonymous said...

>Pielke ... comments

They're broken over there.
The actual item shows zero comments.


If you look at the list of recent commenters and click his name it takes you to this:
Thereunder is
The Importance of the Development Pathway in the Climate Debate

Which shows it has four comments:

Continue reading "The Importance of the Development Pathway in the Climate Debate" »

Posted by Olive Heffernan on May 16, 2007
Categories: Climate Science, Roger Pielke, Jr | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (0)


Click on 'more' and it shows you the same thing, but with zero comments.

Go back to the list of recent comments and try the next guy down, and Lo, you get to read the comments.

"... Thom-
Your misrepresentations of my work and efforts to smear by association are entertaining, but misguided...."

Curiouser, or more boring?

Anonymous said...

I would say "curiouser AND more boring." It's curious that Roger Pielke Jr. would characterize honest discussion as a "smear" but also boring because this is typical of his behavior.

Mus musculus anonymouse

Dano said...



A successful blog requires a community...hmmm...

I think that depends upon the meaning of 'success'.

I've said this before and I'll say it again, and we can discuss the next time I'm up there, over a frosty beverage after a bike ride up left-hand canyon:

The Dano character was created to get at the source(s) of climate denial FUD. What he found was a bit of a surprise, but it helped the person behind the character in their thesis and practice.

So, when Dano was discouraged from pointing out (in the Dano way) the FUD that was prevalent in RP Jr's comments, that is a clue that exposing FUD was frowned upon at that place.

Now, you can argue about whether it was the tactics or the exposure, but as Eli sez, the place became a haven for the FUD purveyors, mendacicizers and cheer-squad denialists. Amd it was boring as heck, as now is RP Sr's place (which will likely go away too with a decent bout of ignorage).

They got nothin'. RP Jr tried to legitimize his shtick, but you have to have something.



TokyoTom said...

Eli, thanks for the kind mention as an "exception" to the "amen chorus" who care and ego feeding you unkindly state that Roger statement "fell to with dispatch". I agree that I was one of the exceptions (I boogie to the beat of a different loin-cloth draped taiko drummer), but I take exception to the other part.

As Dano notes, the place became a haven for the FUD purveyors, mendacicizers (!) and cheer-squad denialists, but this was just who was left after he strangled the comment section. Roger did not often enough spank these people, but he occasionally did, and his chief policy proposals (adaptation and mitigation) were premised on an acknowledgment of AGW.

Driving away serious commenters is not a policy for success, and I agree with you that Roger tried too hard to control the reins. Why? We can only guess.

Was his skin too thin? It would seem so (and was my own experience here: He seemed to lack the confidence to ever lose an argument, but he is to be credited for at least taking on very many of the comments - although that, too, may have been a mistake.

Roger has a natural self-promoting bent that he served by trying to stand out as impartial and above the fray, by attacking both sides. His controversialist tactics attracked the FUDs, and led to attacks by yourself and others. To support his lonely position, Roger appealed to other "non-denialist skeptics" or "skeptical non-denialsts" or "non-heretical skeptics" (or whatever the hell it was).

It didn't work too well, and was of course misused by the FUDers, but that doesn't mean it was not well-intended. It is quite difficult to try to stake out nuanced positions while a tribal conflict is raging.



Anonymous said...

It was hard to figure out exactly what the purpose of Pielke's blog was. I don't think he really knew himself.

But one thing was telling: he always had to get in the last word (and 3rd to last, and 5th to last...)

Horatio Algeranon

EliRabett said...

Horatio and Tom have good thoughts. IEHO, Roger's goals were clear when he started but got entangled in ego and he never saw the value of a somewhat cranky (Eli was trying to use contancerous, but cannot spell) comment section. In the end he narrowed his audience rather than broadening it.

Anonymous said...

I won't speak for Tom, but I do indeed have good thoughts once in a (great) while ... and some of them are even clean (in an even greater while)

-- Horatio Algeranon

TokyoTom said...

Of course the obvious point that we all omitted was that the game shifted markedly on Novermber 6.

Until that point Roger may have thought that his bread would be better buttered if he ignored or was gentle to the FUDers, but by driving away more cantankerous commentators he found himself overly defined by FUDers and denialists, and that his best strategy for his personal agenda was to step away from what he had wrought at Prometheus.