Monday, November 16, 2009

Around the Coffee Pot

On the one hand here is a continuation of Eli's post just the other day on the Climate Concern Troll Twins vs Climate McCarthy, on the other a comment on recent general going ons featuring a cast of tens, the freakynomics follies, Klotzbach and colleagues and more.

The question before the assembled long ears is how to discuss stuff, and no, Eli is not really very interested in the civil discourse thing. The kids read, or hear something. They think about it (maybe) and then talk to others around the carrot juice bar. Some bunny throws out a half baked comment, if you are lucky. Another sneeringly points out that it "needs more work" and finally, after a while, sometimes after dad shows up, the issues become a lot clearer.

This is what is happening on a number of blogs. The problem comes when the originators dig in. Then it gets, very rough and very dumb.

The real issue is how do you incorporate the discussion into the original post. Eli's solution is to use UPDATE to mark where the changes are, and to move important things up from the comments. YMMV. Some favor the memory hole, others leave it buried in the comments and move on. There is no best solution. Others, well there is a reason they are called denialists.

Frankly tho, we are not amused.



Marion Delgado said...

Everyone I've seen use the "updated" model has made it work. Sometimes you have to say in brackets in some other post that you updated post XX, here's the link.

carrot eater said...

I must be a touch slow this morning. What is it that we are unamused by?

Hank Roberts said...

I'd imagine we are not amused by poor responses to comments in blog threads?
-- I notice Stoat has started tracking his posts on other blogs to see what does and does not appear (or disappears). Likely done for a reason.
-- I've noticed long delays when I've posted something strong ('delay is the deadliest form of denial') -- it lets a thread run on getting long and cooling off, before a delayed comment pops in way back upthread).
-- I gather Eli has noted recent problems with people having changed the sense of material (presented as though it were quoted) by leaving words out without indicating that, or quoting out of context?

For quoting, there are simple rules (these examples borrowed from a page found at

3. Use a three-period ellipsis with a space between each period for omitted language from the MIDDLE of a quoted sentence.
“The General Counsel argued vigorously . . . against any form of peanut butter.”

4. At the end of a sentence, use an ellipsis between the last word being quoted and the final punctuation of the sentence.
“Tangerine and butterflies have been determined to be the most important cures for narcolepsy, . . . .”

5. If the author has omitted the end of a sentence in the middle of a quote, use an ellipsis and the appropriate final punctuation.
“Why, then, are certain scholars advocating less . . . ? This seems counterintuitive.”

6. TRICKY, TRICKY, TRICKY: If the author omits a sentence or the beginning of a sentence in the middle of a quote, use the three-period ellipsis but keep the period at the end of the previous sentence.
“The Duluth city council proposed a bicycle sharing program. . . . [I]t failed miserably.”

For quoting out of context, you need the link to the original so people can see what you did.

Magnus said...

Any way... seams like a close race between Gavin and Mann in this pull

I know you all have a favourite!

Anonymous said...

I know you all have a favourite!

Yes, my favourite is hot Crunchy Chicken!

Cymraeg llygoden

Deep Climate said...


I agree with your rules on quotation and I try to follow those religiously. Not sure what rules 1 and 2 are, but FWIW, I'll use a square bracket and capitalize the first letter, whenever the beginning of a sentence is omitted. (Rule 6 incorporates that in the example).

So N+S quote of Romm on Tol should have read:

"[T]ol’s work ... is a beloved of the right wing global warming deniers ..."

Or better:

Romm has called Tol's work "a beloved of the right wing global warming deniers".

I'm not sure N+S's version (identical, but without ellipsis) is so misleading, but it is sloppy writing practice.

On the other hand, the characterization of Romm as McCarthyite is outrageous.

FWIW, here are some major practitioners of misleading "out-of-context" quotation, in increasing order of sophistication: Vincent Grey, Steve McIntyre and Roger Pielke jr.

N+S may also have some fine examples, but I'm not familiar enough with their work to say one way or the other.

Hank Roberts said...

The Vermont rules just showed up when I went looking for a good general summary; the rest are legal-picky:

If we're going to be nitpicky (ook, ook) I prefer the leading ellipsis (breaking law review Rule 1). It makes extra clear that the excerpt came out of the middle of something. I'd avoid adding square brackets around "T" in Tol, because that was not altered).

Main point is: it's awful easy to screw up quoting, even by accident; the original is the only sure source to read to understand.