Clubby Climate Blogosphere Gets Clubbier

By Keith Kloor | October 7, 2011 8:29 am

There’s an intriguing new website/blog devoted to sustainability issues, which one admirer describes as thus:

Planet 3.0 is attempt to do something genuinely useful and different in facilitating discussions about sustainability, and I am greatly encouraged to see it launched.

Me too! Eager to learn more about this fledgling endeavor, I clicked on the “About” category at the site. It reads (my emphasis):

Welcome to the Alpha release of Planet 3.0 a new effort in sustainability journalism.

We are currently an invite only site, and are only sending invites to a select group of scientists and communicators.

If you don’t have an invite, check back later.

Oh. I’ll move along, then.

list of top exclusive social networks

So an online site that presumably wants to get more people to think about and embrace sustainability concerns is an exclusive club. And some wonder why climate change remains a niche issue.

[UPDATE: Michael Tobis explains in the comments that the About page was “stale” and he has since removed its original content. He also expands on his explanation here for the selectivity of the site’s hoped-for community.]

  • grypo

    I’m not a scientist and I was able to sign up and receive an invite. They just need to change the About page, as they don’t seem to be in Alpha anymore.

  • Eli Rabett

    As opposed to this popstand where you got super secret moderation?  GEAFB
    [No invites required to participate here, and you’re only on moderation because of your inability to temper your language and insults.//KK]

  • Keith Kloor


    A site that requests invites is not very inviting.

  • grypo

    Perhaps, but just to letting people know that you don’t need to be special and it appears they are no longer in alpha.

  • Tom Fuller


    You are not on super secret moderation. We all know about it because you never quit whining about it. Just go back to your own cesspool and it’s problem solved.

    Hey! Maybe they’ll take you at this new joint.

  • Keith Kloor

    They should change the about page, because it strikes me as off-putting to new visitors.

    Also, as the website seems to be largely an aggregator (aside from Michael’s posts), the invite request seems doubly odd Is it merely a form of screening your commenters ahead of time? Is it for some non-public listserv community? I don’t get it. 

  • Bob Koss

    According to Network Solutions Michael Tobis is involved. He is listed under Tech.(assistance maybe?)
    Why not ask him what it’s all about?

  • Michael Tobis

    1) There’s an “ask for an invite” link prominent on the front page. The only difference between members and nonmembers at present is whether your comments get put in the moderation queue.

    2)  The “about us” page was actually stale. It’s gone now. Apologies and thanks for pointing this out.

    Not the only mistake we have made in setting this fairly complex site up with very limited resources. And we’ve been scrambling to a self-imposed deadline of unveiling something reasonably representative at SXSWEco this week.

    3) That all said, there really is a problem with conventional blog conversations. Fixing it is a key part of our mission.

    What we are trying to do is keep the conversation interesting and informed. And in the end, that means making an endless stream of value judgments on contributions. So yes, asking people to explain or identify themselves is a first pass at that.

    4) The extent to which we are a blog aggregator and the extent to which we host new material will shift over time. That should not matter much to the general reader. The front page will have to serve some community building functions in the early phases but eventually will be newspaper-like, in that it will feature the most important stories.

    5) Our aim is for the front page to serve a general audience with infromed sustainability related articles of general interest. For the most part we hope to have a broad representation of opinion, except that opinions which are based on confusion about the facts will not be represented. Alternatively, when the rest of the press happily injects wrong ideas into the public, we’ll try to feature correctives, like the current “Pitfalls” piece.

  • Keith Kloor


    There will be growing pains. And despite my gentle jabs, and my disagreements with you over the press’s role in this debate, I’m rooting for the site’s success. 

  • Dan Moutal

    “select group of scientists and communicators.

    Aren’t you a communicator? 

  • Tom Gray

    So this is RealClimate 2.0. Given the abject failure of RealClimate 1.0, what is being planned to make thos site more successful? The MT cokments about “confusion about the facts”, “Pitfalls” “wrong ideas” etc does not give one much hope that things will be different.

    Is this just going to just another climate war advocacy site  ? Why would another one be any different?

  • Nullius in Verba

    The difference between this and RealClimate 1.0 appears to be that they intend for this site to openly advocate for particular policy options, rather than sticking to the descriptive science.
    This bit was interesting: “It is time for us to be willing to say what mustn’t be said, and consider doing what mustn’t be done. This is no time for an excess of propriety.” That suggests the range of policy options to be considered might include some of the more ‘controversial’ ones. The sort of suggestions made after drinking beer until after midnight…

    While there is a brief mention of tolerating respectful disagreement, it’s clear from the list of editors, the articles already there, and the comments here that this isn’t going to include anyone who respectfully disagrees with the whole thesis of the site, and it’s evidently not planning to be particularly respectful of any such views.
    And as such, I don’t see what it could possibly achieve.

    If they want to talk policy, then they might like to see if someone like Roger Pielke Jr might be interested, to give that “broad representation of opinion”. I shall keep an eye out to see what happens to it, but so far I don’t see anything more than yet another advocacy site for the orthodoxy. RealClimate 2.0 indeed.

  • kdk33

    @11 Exactly. 

    Pray tell how do different view points get represented when some moderator (MT?) first decides who is confused.  More of the same, with a subtle reframe.


  • harrywr2

    #11 Tom,
    The MT cokments about “confusion about the facts”, “Pitfalls” “wrong ideas” etc does not give one much hope that things will be different.
    That was my take as well.
    There is nothing wrong with setting up a site where the question of ‘whether or not’ action on climate is required is a forbidden or heavily moderated subject.
    Bravenewclimate has a ‘boilerplate site moderation rule’ that there is no debate as to whether or not an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions is required. The focus is on ‘how to achieve’ an 80% reduction and unlike most ‘Green’ sites a critical review of available technologies is generally the debate topic.
    Which seems to be what is implied by MT’s website name.
    It’s nice to talk about ‘sustainability’ but unless one is prepared to look at the problems associated with the available technologies getting there isn’t going to happen. It’s not the presses fault and it’s not the ‘deniers’ fault.
    In the US we have 988 coal fired plants with capacities of 200MW or less. They will have to be replaced with something. In 2001 Congress directed the DOE to look into Small Modular Reactors as a potential replacement technology. DOE responded that all the issues related to deploying Small Modular Reactors would be resolved by ‘the end of the decade’. The decade ended and ‘none of the issues’ have been resolved.
    We don’t have a suitable licensing framework for Small Modular Reactors and no one has done the hard work necessary to come up with a suitable framework. A $400 million licensing process is just the ‘cost of doing business’ for a 1000MW reactor. For a 100 MW reactor it’s a deal killer.
    Even deploying  ‘concentrated thermal solar’ is tied up in endless environmental lawsuits.
    If an 80% reduction in CO2 is the goal then replacing coal with natural gas is heading in the wrong direction. If the EPA issued a rule tomorrow morning at 9 closing all 988 small coal fired plants they would just be replaced with natural gas.
    There is a simple reason Obama delayed EPA’s more stringent NOX,SO2 and particulates regulations….it doesn’t move the country in the direction an 80% reduction. It moves us towards a 20% reduction and the political challenge of then having to close a trillion dollars of relatively new natural gas generating facilities.



  • Tom Fuller

    Mr. Tobis, you will have a challenge in helping your team insure that this does not resemble old wine in a new bottle. Good luck. 

    As I don’t consider myself one of the Elect, I will probably not be a frequent flyer there. I’m sure that displeases you greatly… 

  • Keith Kloor


    Not in the sense that your probably define it. I’m not trying to communicate a particular message or narrative.

    However, I would like to see the audience expand for climate and env issues. You probably do, too. 

    To that end, I believe endeavors such as Planet 3.0 should strive to widen the conversation, not make it exclusive.

    But  I’ll be paying attention to the blog and like I said, would like to see it succeed. 

  • Michael Tobis

    This goal is very different from that of RealClimate, which provides actual insights into the interests and endeavors of the climate science community, and as an important subtext provides evidence of the field’s bona fides.

    We, rather, intend to apply a realistic sense of the balance of evidence to strategize for a much better future than the one that appears in prospect.

    Our focus is futurism or nonfictional speculation. The focus on the future has vanished over a generation in a way that is astonishing and deeply discouraging.

    To be valuable, such speculation must avoid incompetent or mischievously incorrect bases for speculation. There is nothing to be gained by further rounds of lobster chess.

    Our existing editorial board is openminded and centrist and scientific enough to entertain ideas which are unfamiliar to us and/or which are contrary to our own points of view. Still, it is exactly our goal to simultaneously provide the service of disregarding claims that are deeply at odds with the state of knowledge in our chief areas of expertise.

    Because these areas are commonly used as weapons to derail progress in public discourse by people whom we believe to be incompetent and/or disingenuous, our capacity to make this distinction allows us to provide a service that is missing. It may take time to develop the audience that has been discouraged from the prospect of ever finding such a venue.

    We do indeed intend to make the conversation “exclusive”, exclusive, that is, of patent nonsense. Sort of like a scientific review process. Well, exactly like one. This is harsh but it’s tough love. This does NOT mean that we will exclude anyone who strongly disagrees with us. No responsible scientist does that, and we, in our capacity as scientist/journalists won’t either. But they had better make a damned good case.

    Our goal is to give our readers things to think about that are maximally based in evidence. There’s plenty of room for disagreement given that. The service we intend to offer is a constructive contemplation of the future. It is based on a capacity that we hope to develop not to waste your time with stuff that cannot possibly true.

    This process will necessarily be imperfect. I apologize to those whom we misconstrue as being foolish, the false positives. And I apologize to the readership for the false negatives, people who succeed in looking reasonable enough to post, who turn out not to be so.

    But we’re going to try. Those who do not consider the attempt a worthwhile service are welcome not to read or participate in the comments, or to ignore our articles altogether.

  • Keith Kloor


    Your existing editorial board is listed as yourself and one other person.

    Also, you refer to the make-up of contributors as “scientists/journalists.” Who are the journalists?

  • Michael Tobis

    Exactly who has what roles going forward will emerge.

     Maybe “Editorial Board” is the wrong word. But “Staff” would indicate that the amount of money passing from the site to us would already be positive. So far both of us are out of pocket.

    I changed it to “Team”, and “Scientific Board” to “Scientific Review Panel”. These better capture the informal nature of the project so far.

    Anyone with scientific training who is writing for a broad audience is in my way of looking at things a scientist-journalist. This includes most of the writers of our affiliate blogs .

  • Lazar

    “There is nothing to be gained by further rounds of lobster chess.”
    I love the Planet 3.0 bright and forceful vision.
    Step off the wheel. Out of the gloomy Socratic debates. We ain’t playing Jack.
    Critics who have damned the site with loose adjectives in place of evidence make Michael’s case for comment screening.
    There are many playgrounds where they can spray their ‘art’.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Hmm. RealClimate 2.0 commenting policy confirmed. I tried a quick comment – polite, uncontroversial, and confined entirely to the physics – and it didn’t get through. It got paraphrased though (not quite correctly), and dismissed as incorrect out of hand.
    Oh, well.

  • Michael Tobis

    #21, quite.

    NiV’s pseudoscientific comment confused causes and effects, and was a classic of misplaced confidence, but more to the point it was the usual sort of hostile nitpicking. Overconfident and incorrect is something we are in a position to judge on our core scientific interest.

    Our comments are curated, not just moderated. We judge every comment on whether it is constructive. As with a scientific journal, we exercise quality control. Some will find this distasteful, but it is a feature, not a bug.

    I apologize in advance for the inevitable errors in this process, but I make no apology for the process. There is no more benefit of the doubt here than there is in J. Comp. Phys. If you comment, you are contributing to a collective search for truth, and the editors must decide whether the contribution is successful. This is a feature, not a bug.

  • NewYorkJ

    Planet3.0 looks good.  Small but impressive set of contributors so far.  I’ll pass it along. 

    It’s my view that blogs should discourage contributions that are off-topic, ad hom, conspiracy-minded, unsupported, or hand-wavy bluster.  There are plenty of sites for that.  If that means fewer comments, so be it.  Improving the signal to noise ratio is far more important than web traffic.

  • Tom Fuller

    Careful you don’t build a Potemkin village.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Overconfident and incorrect is something we are in a position to judge on our core scientific interest.”
    Having so much experience of both?
    You published an article full of much snark concerning the opinions of sceptics and journalists.
    You admitted that the explanation of the physics offered in that article was incorrect. (There were several errors actually, but I picked the least controversial one.)
    You admitted that you had previously expressed an opinion on the subject yourself and had it shot down.
    You admitted that you didn’t actually know what the real explanation was – while still being supremely confident that I must be wrong – and asked for suggestions.
    When I said it was because of the lapse rate being negative you dismissed it, but when I quoted Ramanathan in the peer-reviewed literature saying it was because the lapse rate was negative you passed it through – with the inconvenient bits censored – and with a patronising pat-on-the-head that this was “much better”.

    And you still think you are in any position to judge?

    I’ll tell you, I am absolutely delighted. When sceptics want to discredit RealClimate the comments policy is always a favourite. They’ll let in the peanut gallery for the home team, but sceptics whose points are too good will have them blocked, distorted, or censored, and will not be allowed to reply. It’s a killer argument – if somebody has to censor the opposition to win, their position must be the weaker one. Even if they were right, they’ve just lost the argument.
    And so we have yet another partisan site where respectful disagreement is not tolerated. Hurrah.

    The approach is also directly contrary to the principles of science and rationality – another good sceptic argument. Have you ever read Mill’s essay on the subject?
    “There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation. Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion, is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right.”
    “If even the Newtonian philosophy were not permitted to be questioned, mankind could not feel as complete assurance of its truth as they now do. The beliefs which we have most warrant for, have no safeguard to rest on, but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded.”
    JS Mill, On Liberty, 1859.

    “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
    Climate science, 2005.

  • willard

    If you insist, I could read Mill with you, Nullius.  I get the feeling you’re conflating many issues about Liberty.

    Please, do publish your comment.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  Offer Tony a guest post.  Go for it.  You are free.  Completely free to do so.  

    And why not decorate your devastating demolition of climate science in just a few paragraphs with gentle jabs?  More fun with gentle jabs.

  • willard

    > Careful you don’t build a Potemkin village.

    Yes, be very careful.  Every moderated site has to.

    It might be interesting to list all the moderated climate sites.  How many can we name?  I’ll start with this one:

    See? A Potemkin village, perhaps. 

  • Pingback: The Blackboard » Michael Tobis: New Blogging Outlet?()

  • lucia

    It is unwise to edit comments and attribute your paraphrasing to the commeter. It is borderline unethical to edit comment, attribute your version to someone else and then ‘rebut’ the your version of the comment.
    I’m not an attorney, but you are going to make editing comments a practice, and most especially if you are going to ‘rebut’ them after editing,  you might want to consult an attorney.  Ask then about “false light” torts.  I suspect there is a possibility you could get yourself in hot water even if you believe you are paraphrasing accurately and fairly.  It might be wiser to not let the comment appear.

  • TerryMN

    @29 – that was my immediate reaction also.

  • Dan Hughes

    From Wikiepdia, ” . . . sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. “

    I have a couple of questions.

    (1)  Will representatives from the less-developed world, those who are looking froward to an un-compromised fulfillment of their future needs, be among the invitees? 

    (2)  Can these people be correctly and truly represented by people who have personally, on their individual basis, decided to experience a state of development that could not under any circumstances be sustainable on a world-wide basis.

    I suspect that every aspect of the ‘carbon footprint’ of every invitee far exceeds that which could be sustained on a world-wide basis. Starting with the salary, which is solely carbon-based, for the work they do and the choice of food, housing, transportation, and consumption of products and services that are not essential for life. What percentage of the world-wide population, for example, could the Earth’s systems support if every one made even one trip to an International Conference.

    Invitees under (1) above could provide insight into the vast chasm between The Talk and The Walk.

    In summary, has the level of resource consumption that is world-wide sustainable been quantified and do those who advocate sustainability meet this requirement?

  • Lazar

    “You are free.  Completely free to do so.”
    Indeed. Post it here. You are free even to conflate climate science with Phil Jones.

  • NewYorkJ

    Nullius: They’ll let in the peanut gallery for the home team, but sceptics whose points are too good will have them blocked, distorted, or censored, and will not be allowed to reply.

    A quick look through a recent RC thread indicates that Nullius believes comments from Alex Harvey, Pielke Sr., Norman Page, and isotopious aren’t very good.  Else, we can conclude Nullius is stretching the truth (to put it conservatively) with regards to RC’s comment policy.  Methinks one shouldn’t flatter themselves.

  • Michael Tobis

    So be it. I will take the advice. If no editor is totally convinced that a contribution from a nonmember is wholly constructive, no mention of it will appear on the site. We err on the side of silence and may choose to communicate with the contributor by email.

    Many of us want a venue where like minded, scientifically acculturated people can address each other and the honestly uncommitted, mutually correcting and advancing knowledge, without the heavy burden of snark and the constant irritations of lobster chess.

    My experiences with Lucia, in particular, have been that her interest in engaging in a common search for knowledge is quite overmatched by her desire to appear smarter than her opponent. She plays that game honestly and fairly, but she plays to win. This is a style which has some place in science, as this sort of challenge can serve to clarify collective knowledge, perhaps at the expense of bad feelings and mistrust. But it’s one of the traps that we want to avoid at P3.

    So, regarding this typical instance of lobster chess: Nullius did identify an error in Kate’s piece, but presented an explanation that I found impossible to understand and still reads to me as wrongheaded. (Nullius is free to republish it.) His second attempt was better in that it made more sense (indeed, greatly clarified what he was trying to say in the first instance) and also in quoting a credible reference, but worse in that it was dripping with sarcasm and venom which I snipped.

    And here we are playing <a href=””>lobster chess</a> again. Because all of this is hopelessly tangential to Kate’s main point, which is that the press hopelessly garbled the story.

    (I heard NPR refer to the ozone hole as due to a “brutally cold” winter in the Arctic, which of course by Arctic standards it most emphatically was not. One tends not to speak of the “brutality” of cold in the lower stratosphere, where the brutality of near-vaccuum would probably be more salient for the casual visitor. This error is vastly more consequential than Kate’s erroneous statement en passant.)

    It appears that in trying to build an online community of shared purpose I am at risk of tort. Perhaps I cannot proceed without engaging an attorney. Worse, it will have to be an international law attorney. Well, maybe, but I hoe not because it puts me out of the game immediately. Maybe that’s why the mainstream press is afraid to say anything or filter anything.

    Maybe that’s why the public has no clue what is going on.

    Well screw that. That kind of fear is destroying us. The whole point is that we want the media to stop being such chickenshits and start telling the truth. On the front page.

    If our effort reaches critical mass so that we can start to look at funding it, we will be exploring the space of comments, fora, and other online conversation in detail, experimenting extensively with custom software.

    For the present: applications for membership will be approved if they make a reasonable case that they support our goals, until we reach a critical mass at which point we will go to invitation-only.

    Comments from nonmembers will be included if they are constructive. Constructive means civilized and respectful in tone, and where there is a topic, on topic. We will do no paraphrasing, no snipping. If an editor thinks a comment from a nonmember has mixed value, we may contact the commenter via email to reach a mutually agreeable phrasing.

  • TerryMN

    @34 – Tobis, you’re missing the point.  You cannot edit / paraphrase / correct / reword someone else words and attribute those words to that person without (proper) fear of reprisal.  Ever.

    It isn’t any of the things you mentioned, and it isn’t wrong, sad, or dangerous to “educating the public.”  You just can’t do it, no matter how noble the cause.

  • Michael Tobis

    #35 I really find that hard to believe, but I don’t plan to mess with it again.

    Can you defend your claim?

  • Michael Tobis

    #31 Excellent questions, very much the sort of thing we should be discussing.

  • lucia

    We will do no paraphrasing, no snipping. If an editor thinks a comment from a nonmember has mixed value, we may contact the commenter via email to reach a mutually agreeable phrasing.

    That said: Reading what you are describing. I think you are about to create a totally closed echo chamber.   But maybe you’ll prove me wrong.

    I suspect that would be ok. That way, you don’t misrepresent what you wrote as being their words.  Of course, they might want you to add a note to indicate you’ve paraphrased. Or not. 

  • lucia

    Heh– I must have clicked my mouse and put the 2nd paragraph I wrote before the first!

    Michael– With respect to what TerryMN wrote: Obviously, if someone wrote something, you can paraphrase. But it’s not right to paraphrase it and represent it as word-for-word what they wrote.  Also, if you distort what some wrote so as to make what they said mean something different, you can end up with a false-light suit.
    I’m sure in life you’ve seen really distorted out of context quoting and paraphrasing.
    The difficulty with edited comments, is they really, really do look like person X wrote exactly what appeared in comments.  So you probably need to be very, very careful.
     If you are going to have multiple editors each possibly “paraphrasing” things could get very bad. 

  • TerryMN

    But it’s not right to paraphrase it andrepresent it as word-for-word what they wrote.

    This.  Just saying that if you edit the wrong person, you’re in for a ride of the type you’ll probably not enjoy.

  • Michael Tobis

    Oh, ok, edit AND attribute is out. Of course, I agree with that. I am not interested in misquoting.

    I can try as best I can in good faith to summarize. In the context of a submission to a comment thread that is apparently more trouble than it is worth, though, so I won’t repeat the error and hopefully the other editors will have more sense.

  • Nullius in Verba

    I think I might need to clarify. The paraphrase occurred in a separate comment written by Michael. It wasn’t being represented as my words, it was quite clearly a paraphrase. And I didn’t particularly object to the content of the paraphrase – it wasn’t presenting it as any kind of nasty parody version – I just don’t think Michael had quite understood what I had meant. Easy to do!
    I’d also like to say that I’d never even consider litigation over a blog comment. Besides not taking it that seriously, it’s against my principles. And in any case I doubt the tort would be applicable here since I don’t think I can claim for damage to the reputation of my pseudonym. In a sense, that’s exactly what it’s for.
    However, if you’re talking about comments in general, then yes, it’s probably a bad idea to muck about with other people’s comments without making it very obvious what you’ve done. People who do have reputations to defend could object.

  • harrywr2

    19 MT,

    Anyone with scientific training who is writing for a broad audience is in my way of looking at things a scientist-journalist.
    So if Thomas Alva Edison would return from the dead he would be ‘unqualified’ in your view?

    According to this story about Albert Einstein, he began work on his ‘Special Theory of Relativity at age 16…hardly an age where someone could be considered ‘scientifically trained’.
    How about the college dropout, Bill Gates? Is he qualified?
    Here’s a nice factoid – Billionaire dropouts…it would appear the college dropout billionaires are worth more then the Phd billionaires.
    It would appear that the list of people who created ‘innovative solutions’ to complex problems includes quite a few people who lacked ‘formal training’.

  • lucia

    Ahh! Ok. Well, if Michael posted a comment clearly written by Michael, I suspect he’s less likely to have a problem that if he edited and had it appear as Nullius. But, I’m not entirely sure he would have no problem under all possible hypothetical circumstances. It sort of depends on whether he eventually makes some big blunder paraphrasing, and also paraphrase someone litigious. 

    The reason I bring it up is Michael seems to be starting what he hopes to be a larger enterprise, needs to carefully consider his practices.  If the practice of blocking a comment then paraphrasing the comment and rebutting becomes a habit, he might get a nasty surprise someday.  So, yes, I’m talking in general. I’m not suggesting that what he did to your comment specifically is going to cause you to sue. I could hardly be able to begin to predict that.  Also, most people aren’t going to sue– especially not those who use pseudonyms.

  • Greg Wellman

    Harry gives us a fantastic example of a straw man eating a red herring.
    Training can be “self taught”.  The quality of the self-education of an Edison or Einstein (or even better example, Ramanujan) is usually apparent to the more traditionally educated members of a field.
    Those Billionaire dropouts are highly qualified … in their fields of demonstrated expertise.

  • Eli Rabett

    As opposed to this popstand where you got super secret moderation?  GEAFB
    [No invites required to participate here, and you’re only on moderation because of your inability to temper your language and insults.//KK
    In your dreams Keith.

  • TerryMN

    Lighten up, Josh

  • Paul Baer

    @45 – “A straw man eating a red herring” – Brilliant! (and true)

  • William M. Connolley

    Keith – it has already been said, but: there was no need to be so snitty. You could just have asked mt.

    mt: please don’t make editorial policy based on the bozo comments here. 

  • Tom Gray

    re 49

    William Connolly writes:

    mt: please don’t make editorial policy based on the bozo comments here

    If one wanted a succinct reason why the AGW communication strategy has failed and failed so utterly, William Connolly has provided a good example.


  • William M. Connolley

    TG: oh dear, did I touch a nerve?

  • Keith Kloor

    I’m not sure what I was being snitty about, or what I should have asked MT. I based my post on the what was written at the site. Should I have checked with MT to see if what appeared on the site was accurate?

  • harrywr2

    #45 Greg Wellman,
    A strawman easting a red herring
    Let me take the example of ‘Bill Gates’.
    The consensus opinion within the computer industry when IBM introduced the ‘PC’ with Bill Gates’s operating system on it was that it was a ‘technological heap of crap’ that would never sell more then 2,000 units a year.
    The PC was nothing more then a ‘bait and switch’ loss leader to get small businesses in the door so the sale people could talk them into a more technologically advanced System 34. (I know…I was sent by my financial director to IBM to try to purchase a PC).
    So you ‘hypotheses’ that those ‘within a field’ with formal training can recognize ‘novel ideas’ produced by someone who is ‘self taught’ is not universally true.
    A similar story applies to Ross Perot of EDS…he went to IBM’s board(Obviously trained experts) with the novel idea of selling turnkey computer systems packaged with support and management and was politely told they didn’t think the model would work.
    Steve Jobs didn’t invent the mouse… Xerox did and decided it had no possible commercial application.
    The Macintosh was never supposed to have seen the light of day…the investors that bought Apple off of Steve Jobs brought in the best electronics engineers they could find and they built the ‘Lisa’ that turned out to be a complete flop.
    In industries with high levels of innovation the ‘experts’ and ‘consensus view’ is frequently upset by novel ideas that the ‘leading experts’ within the industry viewed as having little or no value.
    “Black Swan Events” are named “Black Swan Events” precisely because the “experts” didn’t believe them probable or possible.
    /sarc on
    The Apple was a dumb idea, the PC was a dumb idea, the mouse was a dumb idea, in the future 6 mainframe computers will provide all the computer processing power the world needs.
    It’s best that all the decision making in the world be left up to ‘the experts’.
    /sarc off


  • Tom Gray

    re 51

    William Connelly writes:

    TG: oh dear, did I touch a nerve?

    One thing that I would like to have is rational action of the potentially very serious problem of AGW. One of the major impediments to this is the way in which AGW action is being proposed and communicated by its proponents. Preventing discussion of the topic and excluding other viewpoints from the discussion insures that the proposals will not the accepted.


    So, yes Mr. Connelly, you did hit a nerve.

    A RealClimate 2.0 with a description of people as “bozos” would fail just as RealClimate 1.0 has so completely failed.


  • Tom Fuller

    Connelly wants all moderation to be like at his site, where he sits in master control of all that he sees. That way he can imagine he’s overseeing a debate and pretend that he’s winning it.

  • NewYorkJ


    On the topic of moderation, I’d strongly recommend you don’t automatically put posts with more than 1 link in moderation.  Sometimes they don’t appear for a day, if at all, and often after discussion has moved on.  It tends to discourage those who want to actually back up their statements, and relatively rewards others in comparison, as Lazar put it, to “spray their art”.

    I hope Planet 3.0 does the same.  It seems the policy of allowing members real-time posts and putting all non-member posts in the moderation queue might account for this issue.

  • Paul Kelly

    Why not just make comments open to members only? Planet 3.0 is an affinity blog. I’m sure some with contrary views (if there’s such a thing as anti sustainability) will be invited in. The academics and science and/or policy types MT is looking for understand confronting well reasoned arguments improves one’s own.


  • Bart Verheggen

    Planet3 is a work in progress, like an open document. I think it’s thus prudent to withhold judgment untill its modus operandi and quality (or lack thereof) materializes over time.

  • PHI

     Like-minded people – means that group of people to whom you can express your deepest prejudices unguarded and not get called on them.


  • W. Reymond

    Mr. Tobis,
    On the whole of your discussion to this point legitimizing your construct at Planet 3.0.
    Do you realize how paranoid and DOMINATOR your position comes across to ordinary people? this essential need to censor and control the discussion?
    Remember writing this? [4/21/2011]
    “Let me explain why. It is not because I am a pusillanimous chickenshit, Mosher. It is because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake. And if we narrowly fucking miss pulling this out, it may well end up being your, your own fucking personal individual fucking self-satisfied mischief and disrespect for authority that tips the balance. You have a lot of fucking nerve saying you are on my “side”.” [your bold]
    I will certainly never forget, and will keep a copy handy to remind you, if it should ever slide down the internet memory hole.
    After publishing something like this in a public forum you shot your credibility FOREVER, with at least one person.  It is obvious to at least me that your paranoia gives you license for a great many things, others might consider unethical.
    But nothing is ever unethical if, “…the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake…” is it?
    The Noble Rot.
    Just my opinion,

  • NewYorkJ

    Tone trolling (#60) and the concern trolling to which MT was responding to, should be moderated out as well.  Not useful.

  • kdk33

    Tone trolling…

    Is that euphamism for impeaching the witness?  It’s allowed.

  • lucia

    I think tone trolling is 34what William Connolley was doing when he complained that KK was “snitty”  writing
    Keith ““ it has already been said, but: there was no need to be so snitty. You could just have asked mt.

  • Tom Fuller

    2 suggestions for Planet 3.0. First, a minority report where an invited person outside the consensus posts on a topic. Second, a regular debate feature (no comments allowed) between 2 people with differing views on certain topics.

    Just in case they want mortals to attend… 

  • Eli Rabett

    Oh yes, Eli is so. . .<a href=”″>unable</a> to temper his language. 

  • Nullius in Verba

    Why would they want to do that? Either they see the value in allowing dissent, or they don’t. So long as it is clear and obvious what the comment policy is, I don’t think anybody should be bothered by yet another echo chamber or private club. What annoys sceptics is when they claim to allow dissenting comments but don’t – or only just enough to give the impression they do but unreliably – or when they try to give the impression the lack of visible disagreement is any sort of indication that they’re right. A consensus of the select doesn’t even have the minor value of consensus. Don’t go round telling people “For the most part we hope to have a broad representation of opinion” when it’s not true.

    It’s unscientific and intellectually incestuous, but it’s also private property and they are free to limit discussion there as they choose. Sceptics can simply ignore it, and if anyone cites them, point out that their comments policy renders them an anti-rationalist and unreliable source. Why confuse matters?

  • Michael Tobis

    The P3 site has a simple and specific ideology. Specifically

    1) It is unethical to substantially reduce the viability of the planet.
    2) The most immediate corrolary is that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced, as quickly as is possible, to zero or below in a few decades, so as to avoid a very high risk of very substantially reducing the viability of the planet.

    People seeking to reopen these questions are, we believe, so severely wrong (in some cases ethically wrong and in other cases just wrong in their understanding of the substance) that engaging with them is an enervating waste of time, in circumstances where far too much time has been wasted already.

    Had the mainstream press been competent, it would already be affirming the two points above and trying to build consensus around them, rather than prolonging belief in the disastrous idiocy that these questions are arguable by sane, informed people.

    We are interested at P3 in civilized, respectful, open-minded debate, but mostly in debate given the two premises.

    Want to argue those premises? There are plenty of other places to do that. Do you call this “unscientific and intellectually incestuous”? I call it obviously necessary and long overdue. Opinions differ, as they say, on the shape of the earth.

    Even if you don’t agree, you can post comments on the site. But you have to be respectful and polite, as if we might have some reason besides ideology or greed for believing what we say, you have to say stuff we haven’t already heard a thousand times.  At least don’t be tedious. Because above all, it is the key goal of the site to overcome the patina of dire boredom that has descended over the key topics of our collective future, largely as a result of the endless rounds of lobster chess.

    Sorry, we aren’t playing any more.


  • Tom C


    I get a thrill when Tobis uses his tough-guy language.  I hope his new site seves up lots of that!

  • Bob Koss

    Here is a comment found below an article where the first 6-7 paragraphs discuss the anomalous neutrino speed found in the OPERA experiment. In his wisdom, MT found it necessary to chastise the commenter for being informative.
    All I can say is WTF?
    David B. Benson
    October 7, 2011 | 7:03 pm

    Sheldon Glasow pointed out that superluminal neutrinos would “radiate” (maybe an electron-positron pair) and so slow down.

    There are two other laboratories around the world which may now attempt to replicate the work; be patient.

    [-0: tending off topic. +mt]
    Here is the post.  

  • Bart Verheggen

    I’m somewhat sympathetic to Tom Fuller’s suggestions in 64, though within the boundaries as outlined by Michael Tobis in 67.

    Tom Fuller:
    “First, a minority report where an invited person outside the consensus posts on a topic. Second, a regular debate feature (no comments allowed) between 2 people with differing views on certain topics.”

    As an example, a discussion solely between Gavin and RPSr (as now occurring at RC) on a well defined topic, perhaps facilitated by a capable, uh, facilitator, could be very informative and interesting.

    A little bit like Keith has occasionally done here: Providing a forum to different scientists (eg Gavin and Judith), or transcribing a live discussion between bloggers (eg Lucia and me).

    However, a debate between say Lindzen and a mainstream scientist on whether there is a climate crisis at all is perhaps interesting to some, but most definitely not informative anymore. That would be the kind of stuff about which mt rightly says: “Want to argue those premises? There are plenty of other places to do that. “

  • kdk33

    Sorry, we aren’t playing any more

    Are you taking the chess board home?

    I did get a smile from this:  we might have some reason besides ideology or greed for believing what we say.

    Given that:  The P3 site has a simple and specific ideology.  And the content is copyrighted.

    Good luck storming the castle!

  • Michael Tobis

    Original material on the site is copyright by us for one year (and then released into Creative Commons) unless otherwise noted. Planet3.0 is among other things a commercial venture and relies on no institutional or public support.

    We will use copyright as originally intended – to support original work, not to squelch conversation. I strongly support Lawrence Lessig’s initiatives in copyright and finance reform.

    The comment policy I described above is my own, and has been quite successful in making for very interesting conversations at my own blog.

    On reconsideration, based on this conversation and others I have had in the past, I should and will say that it is not a site-wide policy. Individual authors set the comment policy for their own articles. 

  • Tom Gray

    I submitted thecomment below to the Earth 3.0 blog posting on faster than light neutrinos and skepticism. The posting itself is not about the reported result but a play on what it identifies as real skepticism as opposed to the skpticism of climate skeptics including some climate scientists. If this is typical of Earth 3.0 then it is just RealClimate 2.0. it is not infromative but jsut another example of excluding people from the debate


    An extract from the article
    This is not skepticism, it is the opposite of skepticism. Both the authors of the paper and the media threw any semblance of skepticism out the window because the results of a study that was ultimately flawed were the results they wanted.
    This is a scientific statement. It states that the authors threw out any semblance of scientific skepticism because the results were waht they wanted. It is a statment which cna be true or false. It can be falsified. Do you have any evidence to support this statment?

  • Tom Gray

    bob Koss writes
    Here is a comment found below an article where the first 6-7 paragraphs discuss the anomalous neutrino speed found in the OPERA experiment. In his wisdom, MT found it necessary to chastise the commenter for being informative.
    All I can say is WTF?

    Tobis is correct in indicating that the comment is trending off topic. The article is not about the neutrinos but is a play on what real skepticism is and why climate skeptics do not practice it.

    This is just another shot taken at climate skeptics. Nothing new ““ just RealClimate in another form [sigh]

  • Michael Tobis

    Just received this in my mailbox:

    WHY_DO_YOU_WANT_AN_INVITE: I would like to be part of a community that takes discussion of climate change and what to do about it seriously. I have followed many of climate blogs for some time but in my experience they tend to attract pointless trolling, so I avoid participation. Planet 3.0 promises to be different, and I want to be part of that.

  • Tom Fuller

    Best of luck. Work hard to avoid the outcome that Joe Romm has experienced.

  • willard

    > Sceptics can simply ignore it, and if anyone cites them, point out that their comments policy renders them an anti-rationalist and unreliable source.

    Here we go again.  How many counter-examples do you want to prove that it is not “anti-rationalist” to moderate?

    I pointed earlier at Roger Pielke Jr’s site.  Here’s another one:

    Really, this should be simple to understand.

    Claiming “yes, but moderation” does not make sense.  

    This is so easy to understand that there are more plausible hypothesis than it makes sense. 

  • willard

    > This is a scientific statement.  It states that the authors threw out any semblance of scientific skepticism because the results were waht [sic.] they wanted.

    This is a normative judgement.  This judgement lies outside scientific disciplines.  This judgement can be made by scientists.  But this judgement is not scientific.

    Deciding what constitutes scientific skpticism is not yet a purely scientific endeavour.

  • steven mosher


     My bet is that if you, Josh Halpern, had to use his real name that you might moderate what you say.  I suggest that Deep Climate ( dave clarke)  and Tamino ( grant foster) and Dehogza ( Don Baccus) would also benefit from using their real names.  

  • Tom Fuller

    Moderation is not in and of itself objectionable. There are practices that make it so.

    1. Interjection within a comment. Moderators should not go into a comment to reply. They should submit their own comment. At worst, they can reply at the end of a comment.
    2. Inconsistent policies and/or favoritism
    3. Delay to deny. Moderators should not hold onto a comment for hours while the thread passes the subject by and renders the comment invisible to new entrants to a conversation
    4. Holding a grudge. My last bad comment doesn’t make my next good comment suspect. If someone is permitted on a blog, they should be fully permitted to participate. I’m sure none of you will believe this, but I… even I… have written comments I would like to have back. It doesn’t mean I won’t return to my usual level of brilliance in my next endeavor. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    your behaviour is repugnant. 

  • Tom Fuller

    Forgot one: Moderators should not be like the basketball referee who always catches the second foul. 

  • Tom Fuller

    #81, well it’s good to see we have the Moral Arbiter on hand. There is nothing in comment #79 that is new. Those names are widely diffused and associated with their blog personalities. Nobody is being outed.

  • steven mosher


    “As an example, a discussion solely between Gavin and RPSr (as now occurring at RC) on a well defined topic, perhaps facilitated by a capable, uh, facilitator, could be very informative and interesting.”

     we’ve discussed this format and variations on it for some time. personally, I think its something I would PAY to read. 

    The other thing I would pay to do.  Once at CA we discussed parkers paper  and luckily one commenter knew him. Parker agreed to answer 20 questions ( or something like that )  so the commenters spent time thinking up and voting on the best questions they wanted to ask parker. Scientists have day jobs, then cannot be expected to wade through the crap in comments, but the fact that he was willing to answer what we thought were the best questions spoke well for the man. 

    MT wants a conversation, some people want a dialogue, other’s want a debate, some want a shouting match.  I would say this, if you want a conversation you are going to limit your dedicated readership to something very small. That’s ok  as it is currently structured it’s clear that the site wont bring in new readers it will just steal traffic. The issue is the mission wasnt structured with this question in mind: do we want to bring in new readers or steal traffic? When you don’t answer that question up front, you default to stealing readership.

    Consolidating traffic was an option that was open to you, but that would require a less strict mission.  

    Anyway, good luck to you guys


  • steven mosher

    WRT 81.

     You would think that Eli would get it by now. He shows up on a thread, any thread, and drops a rabbit turd. I find the rabbit turd and set it on fire. The solution is simple, Eli stops dropping rabbit turds. Moshpit moderation. 

  • steven mosher


      at some point I suppose I will point out the climategate mail where private information about a “skeptic” was shared. Maybe not, since so many people have missed it.  

  • willard

    Yes, perhaps UC and bender will lead by example and show us how revealing their names change everything.

  • willard

    > That’s ok  as it is currently structured it’s clear that the site wont bring in new readers it will just steal traffic. 


  • willard


    Now, where was the last place where I’ve seen interjection within a comment, held up comment, favoritism and grudges?


  • Marlowe Johnson

    it’s no fun when it’s this easy… 

  • Nullius in Verba

    I understand regarding the simple and specific ideology, and I understand that having made your minds up, you don’t want to listen to anyone contradicting it. That’s perfectly OK if you’re open and up front about it. As I said, you can interpret that your way, and we’ll interpret it in ours.

    The problem is that the way you describe it gives people a different impression. You say the site is about sustainability, and seeks to avoid the old and boring arguments. The first article I had a look at didn’t mention or even allude to sustainability, and seemed mainly to be a swipe at the media for propagating one of the common weather-is-climate stories, and recited the usual list of old – and somewhat contentious – arguments against.

    Now I know perfectly well that pulling out all the sceptical rejoinders concerning extrapolation over areas with no thermometers, confusing weather with climate, confirming the consequent, and so on would almost certainly not get past moderation. Nor would sarcasm about how funny it was media getting the science wrong while criticising the media for getting the science wrong. Fine statements about the science editors acting as gatekeepers to prevent any nonsense getting through fall a bit flat when you let through an inaccurate article.

    But I was intrigued by your statements about seeking a broad representation of opinion and not only tolerating respectful disagreement but thriving on it, and decided to test it out. My cynical expectation was that given the list of editors and contributors that this description was highly unlikely to be accurate, but I do try to be open minded.

    So without contradicting either item of your two point ideology, I picked the least contentious issue – where even from the point of view of the mainstream the article was wrong – and pointed it out without any rudeness, sarcasm, insults, subtle denigration, personal comments, or disagreement with mainstream peer-reviewed climate science. It does the same sort of thing as the article itself does, and meets all your stated requirements for accepting contributions from outsiders.

    And of course it didn’t get through! There was one sentence, intended descriptively and as a clarifying simplification, that you didn’t understand (that you somehow misinterpreted as a statement on the causality), that and the fact that it poked holes in the article’s propaganda value, and you had made your mind up.

    It’s just another partisan site pushing the same boring ‘climate war’ arguments and where dissent from the orthodoxy is not tolerated. Pointless, because nobody outside your select circle will listen to whatever it is you conclude.

    From a partisan point of view, I couldn’t be more delighted at you making it so easy. It’s exactly the sort of high-handed behaviour that drives people away from mainstream AGW. I encourage you to do more of it. And the best bit is, I can tell you all this and know that you still won’t stop doing it.

    Sincerely, I hope you gain great satisfaction and happiness from it, and that it keeps you very busy.

  • lucia


    3. Delay to deny. Moderators should not hold onto a comment for hours while the thread passes the subject by and renders the comment invisible to new entrants to a conversation

    I agree that to delay is to deny.  It’s just not 100% denial.  I delayed  TCO (who seems to be gone), Shoosh and Andrew. I told them I am doing it. My intention is to deny– but not 100%; I am totally unrepentant.

    4. Holding a grudge. My last bad comment doesn’t make my next good comment suspect. If someone is permitted on a blog, they should be fully permitted to participate. I’m sure none of you will believe this, but I”¦ even I”¦ have written comments I would like to have back. It doesn’t mean I won’t return to my usual level of brilliance in my next endeavor.

    Maybe I do what you call holding  ‘grudges’. There are people who consistently insist on behaving certain ways– and also posting a zillion comments a day.  I wrote a plugin to give people “time outs”, where they can only post every hour, or possibly longer depending on what they are like. (Everyone, including me, has a few minute time out.)

    Some can only post very short comments.  I use the plugin to reduce the comment load from these people. I totally unrepentant.   I generally announce the moderation– I’m quite up front about it.
    One inline commenting by the blogger:
    I often dislike bloggers responding inside a comment, but there are exceptions. I’ve sometimes done it at my blog if there seems some reason why it is important that the response not be separate from the question.  

    When I visit language log or collide a scape, the response inside comment seems to be done more-or-less fairly. Many other places it seems to be done unfairly.  My impression is many of Keith’s in comment responses are about moderation. That seems fair enough– but maybe Eli disagrees with my assessment that the way Keith does this is fair.

    At language log, there is no snark or nastiness in the inline comment. So, that makes a difference too.  At other blogs, sometimes the entire point of the inline comment seems to be to break up the flow of the argument posted by a commenter and insert snark.  When it appears so, I don’t like it.

  • Tom Fuller

    #87, it happens on many sites, unfortunately. It is used maliciously as a weapon by some on your side.

  • Tom Fuller

    Hiya Lucia

    The fact that you and Keith practice restraint in your use of techniques that I criticize is sadly not as relevant as the abuse of those techniques by others.

    Your two sites are probably the best in the biz, if biz it is. But even the two of you can get irked some times, and I’ll bet you wish you could pull back some of what you’ve said, too.

    And I don’t want to punish you two for the sins of Lambert and Romm. But if there were a set of standards to abide by, I would volunteer my list, even if it inconvenienced you and Keith. 

  • lucia

    Your list isn’t bad.  But I don’t buy into the idea that there can be only one list of rules.
    The fact is, every blogger does eventually have to ban some people.  TCO was often so annoying I worried that I would wake up to a troll eruption (which happened.)
    I think the only fair thing is for people to admit that they do what they do. Michael Tobis is going to moderate everyone he has not approved to enter his list of “planetati”.  He’s up front. I requested permission to comment and I haven’t gotten it. That’s that. I’m certainly not going to lose sleep over it.
    Of course, people like you or me are free to comment on what they think a particular commenting moderation policy tells us about the attitude of the blogger.  People can also decide how they are going to interact with a blog with a particular moderation policy. 
    I think MT’s policy will limit traffic to a trickle- but who knows?  Whether it limits traffic or not, it’s MT’s blog. So, he can do as he and others involved in running that blog like. Not my problem.

  • willard

    A relevant comment from The Leiter Report:

    > The Right-Wing Blob, as you can see from the preceding links, is very, very angry–especially since Krugman did not permit comments on his post.  This is a sign of his “cowardice” according to the Right-Wing Blob (an example).  The other possibility doesn’t occur to the Blob:  every civilized person knows that if you write something offensive to the Blob, it responds hysterically and stupidly, and just as you wouldn’t want the Blob pissing on your carpet at home, you don’t want it pissing on your website.   Who wants to hear from know-nothings, after all?  That’s not cowardice, just a wise allocation of time and energy. 

  • willard
  • willard


    > To whom it may concern: Comments from people using “anonymizer” services will be moderated. I’ve added to my list, since it lists itself as an anonymizer.

    PS:  I’m not Ilya.  Anonymizers have their own security issues. 

  • Tom Fuller

    Well, sadly, Planet 3.0 is just more of the same. I went over there and commented on Neven’s reposted essay in praise of Dr. Malthus. Stayed on point, was rigorously polite. Tobis snarked on his mistaken opinion about my comments, edited one comment and refused to post another.

    Same old, same old. 


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About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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