Immoderate moderation at the DT

My friend Locusts has just put up a piece at his place about the decline of debate at the Daily Telegraph to “just above the level of public toilet graffiti.” I left it shortly after Disqus was rushed into service and a bizarre censorship regime imposed, leaving the comment below. Sadly, occasional visits since then have confirmed that there is no intelligent debate occurring, just screaming matches. A forum like that will never persuade the average unaligned reader of the merits of the anti-AGW case; they’ll simply walk away.


As I said earlier on, I will no longer be contributing to this blog. This is in no way a reflection on James nor on the other contributors to it.

I’d like to say up front that being a part of such a vibrant community for the last few months has been a very real personal pleasure. The wit, erudition and experiences shared have underscored my belief that there is intelligent life in the universe and it sometimes comes complete with an A10.

My reasons for leaving the party are twofold. The first and minor reason, is the new blogging software. Apart from its bugs and the serious security loopholes, it positively inhibits the meaty discussions that were the backbone of the blog. As an example of this, another poster in his farewell post took the time to write a long and thoughtful piece on what he considered to be the direction blogging in general (and on the DT) was going. It was hardly discussed. Why? Because it was quickly buried somewhere in one of the ‘pages’ with no way to reference or locate it except to trudge through page after page. I doubt if the non-contributing readership even know it was there after it slipped off the first page. To put it bluntly, the blog software encourages the Tofu nibblers of debate and buries the big free-range carnivores.

The big reason is the censorship. This blog was always subject to light moderation but the accent is on light. You had to be going at it hard to lose a post and speaking as a veteran of the occasional troll war we had, some of it wasn’t altogether pretty – a back alley knife fight with no rules of engagement. They came to close down debate so we fought them to protect the debate and I never had a problem with that. This was one of the few, if not the only, places in the UK where skeptics of AGW could gather and present their side of the story and we’d be damned if we’d be elbowed off the ball. James, to his credit, let those battles play themselves out to whatever conclusion.

I’d like to thank James for providing this platform here, especially as I suspect he’s taken more than a few bullets from an overwhelmingly pro-AGW press establishment. Consensus journalism, like consensus science, is a cancer gnawing away inside institutions.

If you care about what is being debated and I do, then you must have the freedom to speak your mind. If you participate in a debate shaping your words to avoid possible censorship, then you’re not debating. You’re taking part in a show debate and what’s infinitely worse, lending it a bogus integrity by your participation. I won’t have any part of that.

Sticking with the blog would be like watching a good friend going down to progressive Alzheimers. I’d rather remember the good times.


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8 Responses to “Immoderate moderation at the DT”
  1. Blackswan says:

    There were some good times weren’t there Pointman?

    When it was fun and funny and informative and educational and inspirational and a pleasure to check in to see who had said what while we were away from our screens.

    The Disqus format, as you say, pretty much disallowed that and only seems to provide some sort of weird instant gratification for those who like sniping at each other, with sarcasm, ridicule and abuse being the order of the day, not reasoned debate with JD’s post.

    The splinter blogs that have evolved from those earlier times (with a couple of notable exceptions), each has something unique to offer readers, each has its own character and integrity – integrity being the operative word.

    The DT has obviously placed its priority on ‘hits’ not the quality of debate or otherwise, with its measure of success being, as always, money and advertising revenue.

    When we contribute to blogs, we genuinely offer something of ourselves – after all, are our thoughts not who we really are? Our real-world lives come with all the trials and tribulations, joys and successes (or failures) that we all contend with every day, but the blogosphere is simply made up of people’s thoughts and ideas, knowledge and experiences that we often wouldn’t share with a relative stranger or the bloke across the street.

    A year ago I didn’t understand what ‘a meeting of the minds’ really is – I thought it was just when people totally agreed with each other. I’ve learned that it’s about Respect. Respecting the right of someone else to have a different opinion, to debate issues without personal ridicule and abuse, and to find support and validation in like-minded individuals who understand Integrity and Respect.

    The rest is mere dross and not worth my time of day.

    Thanks for your new venture with this site, a worthy home for Line of Descent and your other literary works. Now I’m waiting for an Art Gallery – you once showed us a peek into your artistic talents and I know you have other contributors who have shown they are dab hands with a paintbrush (pun intended…LOL) I know this blog will grow into something unique that offers much to your visitors.


    • Pointman says:

      Yes, they were fun times. I enjoyed the debates and speaking to people, met more than one who had moved from a neutral position on AGW to a skeptic one because of them. Disqus makes debate of any meaningful kind impossible.

      As you quite rightly say, when we contribute to a blog, something of one’s self is added to it. While trolls represent the dark side of internet anonymity, there is a brighter side. One can express oneself totally honestly on controversial subjects in a way that might not be possible in one’s private life, either for social or professional reasons. I do enjoy that freedom.



  2. meltemian says:

    Swanny – Yes, when I first started following JD’s blog, pre-Disqus, I used to track back so I could read all the posts to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. It was like a voyage of discovery. Nowadays I just skip-read a couple of pages.


    • Blackswan says:

      Hi Mel, yes it was pretty mad at JD’s a year or so ago. I’m not a very good skip-reader, especially if the comment was full of detailed information and I was trying to learn something. By the time I ploughed through the thread there were even more rapid-fire comments piling on at the end and I’d despair of ever catching up.

      But learn I did, and scrolling through the bed-wetting comments wasn’t hard at all. Funny how the blogs and the people have evolved in such a short time.

      It’s certainly interesting to have a review of our participation and draw some conclusions about why we contribute, exactly who we are dealing with and make more informed choices about where and when we use our time most effectively.

      Always good to catch up with you Mel.


    • Pointman says:

      Hello Mel and welcome. On JD’s I tend to read the topic but rarely get past page 1 of the comments. Have you noticed that the spambot Heliumlady has filled up the first 50 pages of the old topics with spam, making them unreadable. Why they just can’t ban and delete the posts is beyond me.



      • meltemian says:

        Hello Pointman – No I hadn’t noticed all the old blogs. I must go and investigate, She’s so surreal on the current posts that I have to admit she makes me laugh!!
        Good to have found your home blog, I knew you had one but hadn’t got round to finding it.


      • Pointman says:

        It is actually an automated spammer with an operator who occasionally adds a sentient post. I suppose it inflates the hit count at the DT, which is extremely important to advertisers. I wonder if the latter know the figures the DT are feeding them about hits is fradulent?



  3. Annie says:

    I’ve only just seen this and concur with your description of what happened to the DT blogs with DISQUS…it was a complete pain and I stopped bothering with it all but missed JD and some others. I really missed Gerald Warner, also Damian Thompson. On the odd occasion when I had a quick look it was a mess and there were a lot of really pointless comments.

    I had a different blog name years ago.

    The DT has chickened right out of blogs now it seems.


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