Category Archives: Truth matters

New comments policy for the blog: factual accuracy and false claims made by sceptics not allowed

Freedom of expression, even putting forward minority and unpopular views, is without doubt a universal right. It is a fundamental belief of mine, and shared by all readers of this blog.

Over the years I’ve received notes from readers about the sometimes rambunctious nature of comments on WtD. I’ve allowed many comments from climate sceptics due to my passion for freedom of expression. I’m aware it can result in long discussion threads, which on occasion become heated. There are community standards for WtD which I developed to help manage this issue, and based on these I’ve banned certain readers.

it is worth stating I have not allowed these long threads to boost blogs numbers. Long comment threads add nothing to the overall traffic of WtD.

Which brings me to my point.

As some of you may have recently heard, the Sydney Morning Herald (see here) and Los Angeles Times (see here) have made a stand on printing letters sceptical of climate change. Put simply, they will not print factual inaccuracies.

To quote the letters editor of the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Climate change deniers or sceptics are free to express opinions and political views on our page but not to misrepresent facts. This applies to all our contributors on any subject. On that basis, a letter that says, “there is no sign humans have caused climate change” would not make the grade for our page…”

I strongly agree with the stance taken by both the SMH and LA Times. It is a wise move, and one that can help rid the internet of information pollution.

Truth matters, as do facts.

This is especially true in the climate change debate.

The discussion about climate change is not helped if it is polluted by misinformation, which is really the intent of climate change deniers.

So for this reason, claims such as “global warming is not real”, “global warming is a hoax” or “there has been no warming for 15 years” will not longer be allowed. I’d much rather the WtD comments section reflect what we all want the debate to be – about an appropriate response to climate change. 

While some may claim this as an act of censorship, I think it is beholden upon myself and other commentators to now take a much firmer stand. The SMH and LA Times have shown wisdom, and I believe it is worth following their example. 

We’ve been far too forgiving of the deliberate attempt to mislead and lie to the public. For the acts of climate change sceptics are just that – acts of deception. 

Perhaps I should have implemented this policy from the outset or much sooner. Nonetheless, I think my original intention to allow free-for-all debate was well intentioned and was acceptable in the first years of this blog.

Deniers of course have their own blogs and space to make there case, and they’re welcome to prosecute their case there.

I’ll be watching comments closely and implementing this new policy – however if a false claim slips through, please let me know and I’ll attend to it. WtD is a solo effort, thus it is not possible to monitor comments every moment of the day.

it will take a few weeks to fully implement, but I hope this change in policy makes reading WtD more enjoyable.

Thanks to the many readers of WtD over the years, and for those who emailed me with their concerns.

I’ve listened to your voices.

~ Mike @ WtD

[Correction: initially I made reference to the number of visitors when I fully intended to make reference to the number visits. A small distinction, and a genuine error on my behalf. I fully intended to state the later.]

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