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Comments: The Crackdown

24 Apr , 2009 by

I’m sure you all knew this was coming. I enabled comments on Universe Today about 6 months ago, and it was great to have everyone’s feedback. But now people are abusing the system, being rude to each other and advertising their personal theories, so it’s time to crack down. I’m going to implement some new policies that should keep things cleaner. This is a shortened version, inspired by the powerful (but fair) rules over at the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today forum.

The writers and I will be deleting any posts that break the following rules:

  • Be nice – Don’t abuse other readers, the writers, or the Universe in general. Don’t swear, make racist or sexist comments, etc. I think you know when you’re being rude. Stop it.
  • Be brief – Don’t write a long rambling comment that’s longer than the original article.
  • Don’t advertise – Don’t use the site to promote your product, service, or your own website. If you’d like to promote your stuff, buy advertising.
  • Don’t promote your personal, alternative physics theories – This is the same as advertising. You’ve got an idea and you want the world to know about it, then start up your own website, and blog away, but don’t do it here.

I’m also going to make commenters register with the website shortly, so you have to create an account to be able to comment.

By  -          
Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.


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Ian O'Neill
Member
April 24, 2009 1:13 PM
From my point of view, this is the best thing I’ve heard for months. Too many times have our articles become the forum for rudeness, insane theories and comment box flaming. Yes, you can disagree with the article, that’s one of the points of including comment boxes. But debating the facts of the article is completely different from inventing your own theory. For example: An article may say: “This observation could indicate the presence of a black hole.” An appropriate comment could be: “The researcher mentioned this could be signature of a black hole, could it be something less massive, such as a neutron star? There is no indication about mass, perhaps Chandra might be…” An inappropriate comment… Read more »
vagueofgodalming
Member
April 24, 2009 1:14 PM

Thanks, Fraser.

I see you’ve implemented the registration thing, too.

Mike
Guest
Mike
April 24, 2009 10:47 AM

I do hope that a ban for sexist comments or somefink do not mean GOCE satellite goes without further mention.

In other respects sounds good.

Morellio
Member
Morellio
April 24, 2009 11:12 AM

Yay thanks!

The Open File
Member
The Open File
April 24, 2009 11:15 AM

Hmm…no personal alternative theories. I laugh at the irony. What about the ridiculous December 21, 2012 ad that smears itself all over the site? Yes, I know it’s paid-for advertising, but gee, don’t you guys have any standards?

watchful.stone.guardian
Member
watchful.stone.guardian
April 24, 2009 11:49 AM

“Don’t promote your personal, alternative physics theories.”

While I agree that this forum is for the discussion of scientific topics we’re not all scientists. Don’t be too draconian when it comes to scientifically valid (even if they’re wacky) alternative theories.

Rules a good way to keep order but sometimes then can be used to oppress/suppress as well.

For example I may not agree with the global warming deniers but on occasion they may have a point.

La
Member
La
April 24, 2009 12:14 PM

OK, while I love this site, and agree with most of the rules, this one makes no sense for this site:

— Don’t promote your personal, alternative physics theories —

I am therefore am not allowed to disagree with every global warming story? GW is a theory, ask any real scientist. I can produce volumes of scientific data supporting an opposing view. If I can’t do this, you shouldn’t either…..

Jess
Member
Jess
April 24, 2009 12:33 PM

Thank you, Mr. Cain. >>
I got hooked on this website a while back, and I liked to read comments on the articles- the ones that weren’t hostile, that is.
With the recent bout of disagreement between several parties (And I never could quite decipher their stances- it may have been gravity versus electromagnetism- not that it really matters) that got out of hand, i’ve just been sticking to the articles.

These rules are a good idea- i’m speaking to everyone here- if you’re here, it’s probably because you’re interested in what this website has to offer and enjoy the articles. Why spoil the experience by fighting?

E320lifegr8rlimitsofcreated
Member
E320lifegr8rlimitsofcreated
April 24, 2009 12:40 PM

Boundaries and limits are important. Without them someone could get hurt.. The Without the “Crackdown”, credibility would be in question. Thanks for establishing boundaries and limits. “Open File” does make a good point about standards though… where do you draw the line on advertisements. What would you not post for the modest ‘going rate advertisement’ contrasted to say … $1,000,000?

Andy F
Member
April 24, 2009 12:52 PM

This is fair enough, as all other websites, blogs and forums have usernames and passwords. It is a shame they’re needed, but we are part of the real universe, and otherwise abuse will happen.

I would suggest behind relaxed on the other alternative physics theories though. As a non-scientist (but amateur astronomer), I don’t think I’ll be offering many myself (!), but I do understand that some of the greatest advances made in science have been due to folks thinking “out of the box” – General Relativity, Newtonian/Galilean Mechanics, Copernican Revolution etc.

Wylie
Member
Wylie
April 24, 2009 1:18 PM

I as well agree with most these standards of conduct on the website.
I did not realized it was out of control to the point of needing to register but that must because typically I just read the articles.

Again as many others have pointed out what was written about alternative theories seem quite harsh and I think only stifles creativity.

HelloBozos
Member
April 24, 2009 1:30 PM

Hiya Editers, Bozo here,my names not calling anyone a clown,i’m the clown,hope i’m accepted here, i’m realist an see into things pretty easy,own a telescope i use religiously,an film rocket launchs from the Cape..Thanks for this site, Very Imforitive!!!
(quickest updates on the net i’ve found)

Greg
Member
Greg
April 24, 2009 1:55 PM

This has been long overdue. I remember a time when I had to log in, my posts were tallied, and I had a title associated with the number of posts. So I guess we have gone back to the good old days. Unfortunately what happened says something about human nature that is not encouraging. Considering what happened when the Fed decided to deregulate the economy and let financial instututions police themselves via the honor system, this result is not at all surprising.

Jon Hanford
Member
Jon Hanford
April 24, 2009 2:15 PM
While looking up the definition of ‘transpermia” at the Wiki site (which redirected me to the panspermia page), I noticed a warning at the top of the page that the following article contains ‘weasel words’. Being curious as to exact meaning, I followed the link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Avoid_weasel_words .Although this relates to their writing guidelines, I found many sensible statements and examples (along the lines of Ian’s post above) regarding arguments and statements, and how to avoid ‘weasel words’ in general. As stated on the page “This page in a nutshell: Avoid using phrases such as “some people say” without providing sources.” Makes for sensible reading. Thanks for the improvements, Fraiser, as UT is a favorite site of mine… Read more »
mgmirkin
Member
April 24, 2009 2:20 PM
watchful.stone.guardian Says: While I agree that this forum is for the discussion of scientific topics we’re not all scientists. Don’t be too draconian when it comes to scientifically valid (even if they’re wacky) alternative theories. MGmirkin responds: Agreed. Please let it not be quite as draconian as BAUT where stepping out of line with the current “consensus” “hand count agreement” science gets you immediately banned for a year with no appeal rights and nobody to even appeal TO, should you feel unfairly treated. watchful.stone.guardian Says: Rules a good way to keep order but sometimes then can be used to oppress/suppress as well. MGmirkin responds: Yes, the main rule should regard decorum and avoiding interpersonal rancor, NOT censorship of… Read more »
ukdave
Member
April 24, 2009 2:20 PM

Just checking out the registration – all seems to work! Looking forward to enjoying prodictive and informative discourse without having to wade through reams of silly comments

TD
Member
TD
April 24, 2009 2:27 PM

Limiting the length of a comment is good. Prohibiting offensive or abusive comments is good. But sitting in judgement of whether a theory is accepted or whacky, for the purposes of censoring a comment, is just wrong. I happen not to agree with many “theories” I’ve seen pushed here, but it’s not up some self-appointed group to sit in judgement. Censorship of ideas – a sad day for the freedoms that America stands for.

Middenrat
Member
Middenrat
April 24, 2009 2:31 PM

Thankyou Admins, my IQ just went up ten points and I didn’t feel a thing wink
Seriously, thanks for returning the facility to usefulness.

Darnell Clayton
Member
April 24, 2009 2:32 PM

I’m not exactly a fan of registering for sites (as I prefer open commenting systems as anyone else–hence the reason I love Blogger and WordPress) but if you are getting overwhelmed with flamers and spammers, I can sympathize with the reason behind it.

My only suggestion would be to allow OpenID, Facebookers, etc. to post their thoughts without requiring them to register with your site itself (I’d recommend RPX plugin as it has helped me out).

Anyways, take care!

~Darnell

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