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Blog updates and suggestions

Filed under: — group @ 1 January 2011

New Year, new blog software.

You’ll notice the new preview function for comments, the AddThis button for distributing our content to your favorite social media sites, and various updates to the plugins and functionality you won’t notice at all.

This is always a work in progress, so feel free to comment on the blog as a whole, anything we’re missing, things that work well (or don’t), and perhaps how we might organise content differently in ways that could be more effective. (Note that comments from other threads discussing these issues were moved here).

Thanks for sticking with us, and a happy new year to you all.

157 Responses to “Blog updates and suggestions”

  1. 1

    Okay, this live preview function is soooooolove it frig’n cool awesome2.


    Now I can only blame myself for my misteakes mistakes.

  2. 2

    Errrppp. The live preview accepts/reflects more tags than the post, so my previous comment lost the subscript, superscript, and span/color tags… I didn’t expect the last to work, but when it did in preview I was shocked.

    Oh, well… the preview function is still mega-cool.

    [Response: I’ve allowed sub and sup for future comments. – gavin]

  3. 3
    Hunt Janin says:

    I’m still a beginner at this blog but I’d like to learn how I can post a question, e.g., about sea level rise in the distant future, without having to post a “this question is on a different subject than the one being discussed here.”

    Any suggestions?

  4. 4
    Wayne Johnston says:

    The live preview doesn’t work in IE8 and Firefox 4.

    Firefox 4 reports:
    14:52:25.366: Exception: syntax error Source File: Line: 1, Column: 0 Category: content javascript

    14:52:25.651: Warning: Unknown property ‘-moz-outline’. Declaration dropped. Source File: Line: 1, Column: 2447 Category: CSS Parser

    IE8 reports:
    Webpage error details

    User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.30; InfoPath.2; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.648; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET4.0C; .NET4.0E)
    Timestamp: Sat, 1 Jan 2011 19:51:08 UTC

    Message: Syntax error
    Line: 1
    Char: 1
    Code: 0

  5. 5
    dhogaza says:

    I love the preview function, thanks a lot. Though my last post over on one of the other threads makes clear I should use it more thoroughly (a couple of typos slipped through). Oh, well.

    Happy New Year, and keep up the good work.

  6. 6
    David Wilson says:

    This whole business can be very depressing, maybe even moreso for the unwashed hoi polloi like myself, and your posts, arriving irregularly as they do, but dependably, cheer me up a great deal, and so I applaud your efforts for that reason if for nothing else.

    I remember that y’all seemed stiffer at the outset; snobby know-it-alls (I hope you don’t mind me saying this – it’s just my opinion); but you seem to have been developing positively in this respect – an example of extreme pressure bringing out the best (as I imagine it).

    I am also glad to see no Facebook or Twitter icons; certainly a relief.

    A preview feature to review comments before you submit them would be nice.

    Keep it up. Be well.

  7. 7
    David Wilson says:

    Oops, silly me, there ARE Facebook & Twitter connections, so small I didn’t notice ’em at least – ok, no problem.

  8. 8
    Wayne Johnston says:

    The preview is now working in IE8. I didn’t do anything other than to close and reopen the browser.

  9. 9
    Didactylos says:

    Hunt Janin: If you can’t find somewhere relevant, then find the latest open thread where you can ask whatever you please.

  10. 10

    Add my voice to the chorus of happy previewers.

    And Happy New Year, while I’m at it!

  11. 11
    Septic Matthew says:

    I already liked the site and I think the preview improves it.

    Sometimes when I post the text is displayed with the notation “Awaiting Moderation”. I think it would be helpful if you always displayed the text (for a given poster) awaiting moderation. If that isn’t asking too much.

    Also, some submissions are deleted because they trigger the spam filter, but there is no hint at the offending words or phrases. It would be nice if you could highlight the offending text. Again, if it isn’t too much work. You do lots of good work already.

  12. 12
    Tim Jones says:

    I wish all my life’s more significant decisions had a preview function. Thanks for the improvements! Typos can make good comments look idiotic. I hope real climate can help with ways for everyone to have a happier new year and for Mother Earth to have a happier future as well.

    It’s only tangentially related to climate change discussions, but a microclimate in Death Valley, California has given rise to some interesting physical effects and much controversy regarding the ways big heavy rocks can be seen to have moved around on the bottom of a playa lake, untouched by external, unnatural forces.

    A solution to what’s been a mystery for decades can be found at:

    I don’t see a way to preview these comments before I click the “Submit Comment” button in either Safari or Firefox on an Intel Mac.

  13. 13
    CM says:

    Thanks for keeping on, and a happy new year to you!

    The new preview is neat.

    Just testing a couple of other things, please ignore:

    \lambda \equiv \frac{\Delta T}{\Delta R_f}

  14. 14
    James Staples says:

    Good for all of us! But then some one calling themselves RoveRoveRoveYourBoat is my “fan” on one of these sites I’m linked to; and injecting a lotta validatable truths into cyberspace, like the kinds of Scientifically Assessed Truths I find here, is why.
    And the more ‘fans’ progressive, scietifically minded, social lefties like me (and some of you EU Citizens’, I’d wager) have on ‘that side of the aisle’ the better.
    Maybe I can even draw “K.R.” into the debate!
    Happy New Year!

  15. 15
    CM says:

    S. Matthew #11, re: “awaiting moderation”, when I submit a comment I consistently see it displayed the way you describe. If it’s not consistent for you, might it be a browser issue on your end?

  16. 16
    Didactylos says:

    There are two reasons it may not say “awaiting moderation”. 1) It didn’t make the cut, and 2) sometimes the comment appears on a different page to the one you get redirected to.

  17. 17
    Hank Roberts says:

    Live preview is visible for me: Firefox 4.0b8, Mac OSX

    A few errors (parsing value for ‘filter’ and ‘font-size’; unknown property ‘-moz-outline’) cause those declarations to be dropped, per Error Console.

  18. 18
    David B. Benson says:

    Hunt Janin — Just ask anyway. Lotsa people do it. As for SLR eventually, first read David Archer’s The Long Thaw. Then note that even at current levels of CO2, we are back to Miocene conditions,
    The impact of Miocene atmospheric carbon dioxide fluctuations on climate and the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems
    Wolfram M. Kürschner , Zlatko Kvaček, and David L. Dilcher
    with sea highstands ~60 meters above current sea levels.

    So if CO2 concentration remain so elevated, a couple of millennia ought to be long enough.

  19. 19
    David B. Benson says:

    Two opposable thumbs up for preview!

  20. 20
    Hank Roberts says:

    Didactylos gave good advice:
    If you can’t find somewhere relevant, then find the latest open thread where you can ask whatever you please.

    Suggestion — keep an open thread, and put a nice big fat blinkenlights button for the currently open thread smack in the middle of the banner — below the picture, since the buttons along the very top often are missed?

    It might help.

  21. 21
    Septic Matthew says:

    CM and Didactylos, thanks for the comments. I’ll try some experiments.

  22. 22
    David B. Benson says:

    Hank Roberts idea @20 might help to keep comments more on-topic.

    If that matters.

  23. 23
    andrewo says:

    I’d suggest adding the “WinerLinks” functionality, which allows direct linking to individual paragraphs in posts. In case it’s not clear what I’m talking about:

    [Response: Your wish is our command… – gavin]

  24. 24
    Edward Greisch says:

    “some submissions are deleted because they trigger the spam filter, but there is no hint at the offending words or phrases. It would be nice if you could highlight the offending text.”

    YES. Please make the spam filter light up the offending word(s) instantly. I find it very difficult to identify the problem and usually just email my comment to A highlighting spam filter would save time for you as well as for me.

    How do you put formulas into comments? I see that 13 CM did it. I used to be able to write formulas with the Word formula maker, but I don’t have that on this machine. I now have NeoOffice.

    [Response: The math functionality comes from QuickLatex – gavin]

  25. 25
    Damien says:

    Can you do threaded comments, where comments can be directly replied to?

    [Response: We’ve tried it, but the threading gets very complicated and it’s hard to see what is new. Sorry. – gavin]

  26. 26
    Didactylos says:

    Do you need the spam filter in addition to ReCaptcha? I mean, it’s a really, really rubbish spam filter. It can be defeated by a three year old, but blocks perfectly good comments due to perfectly legitimate words.

    If you do feel you still need a spam filter, there must be a better one out there. Maybe even one good enough to dispense with ReCaptcha.

    Agree with you on threading. Threads are great, but WordPress just can’t cope.

  27. 27
    Jim Galasyn says:


  28. 28
    Greg Simpson says:

    CO2. Excellent, this is only the second site I know of that allows subscripts.

  29. 29
    Pete W says:

    Testing from an iPhone.

  30. 30

    There is a vast assortment of media articles which are related to many of the subjects raised at RC, sort of a parallel universe of information streams coexists simultaneously feeding info not necessarily accurate scientifically.

    At the bottom of each subject there should be ALL the current relevant text and links which are related , these links could be provided by RC readers. This in turn would give any commenters here a chance to redress the misinformation directly, in near real time, which in turn gives the reporter blogger who wrote the related article feedback for the main stream readers in on a better opinion, corrections and other obvious scientific obscenities.

    Responding in a quicker time stops bad science from metastasizing into TV
    or into the anti-science pop culture, which is even harder to correct.

  31. 31
    Tom says:

    Hey guys,

    I’ve enjoyed reading the blog for several years and have decided to chirp in occasionally. I’m a former US government meteorologist but I’ve learned a lot about climate here and from the links. Plus the commentary can be very entertaining.

    As far as AGW is concerned, I believe the empirical evidence; the temperature record and the physics. But like many I have questions about feedbacks.


  32. 32
    Thomas says:

    The biggest problem with the spam filter, and even more with Captcha, is that (at least for me) one mistake in either and all your words vanish. I’ll have to look into the quicklatex. I hate not being able to express math in a readable manner….

  33. 33
    dhogaza says:


    “We’ve tried it, but the threading gets very complicated and it’s hard to see what is new. Sorry. – gavin”

    In reality, threading mostly sucks. Don’t go there.

  34. 34
    Charles says:

    Thanks for the updates and all the hard work and patience.

  35. 35
    adelady says:

    Threading is horrible for a busy site like this. Once you’re beyond 20ish comments, someone sometime will want to address a response to more than one previous comment. So they have to write two or more separate comments? Numbering comments is much more important.

    The convention of @ or # with a commenter citing comment number and name of writer they’re addressing is much better.

  36. 36
    Edward Greisch says:

    QuickLatex: Reading
    I see that I have to learn a computer way of writing math formulas. I also have to get special characters one by one out of my system special character thing. OK.

  37. 37
    CM says:

    Re: LaTeX — the basic syntax is:

    [latex]…your latex code here…[/latex]
    The usage details are worth reading.

    It’s nice to have, but I think anyone who’d like to use it should consider themselves obliged to preview the latex output on their own system first — the new preview function here cannot help with this, and comments like “sorry I screwed up the formula above, it should look like this” are boring.

  38. 38

    I’m author of and I want to thank you for using it.
    It is really motivating that such respectful website relies on our service. We appreciate it very much.

    We are planning to release updated version of the QuickLaTeX plugin for WordPress soon, which will support native LaTeX syntax embedded directly in the webpage (copy-paste compatibility with offline LaTeX papers), tikZ drawings, automatic equation numbering, styling through CSS and many more.

    Hope you will like it too.

  39. 39
    The Ville says:

    Sometime last year I browsed through most of the links in the menu on the right and found a few broken or dead links.

    If you haven’t done so yet, maybe someone can do a bit of house cleaning and tidy up or fix the links??

    [Response: We do so every so often, but if people would notify us of any dead links anywhere on the site, we will endeavour to fix them. Thanks. – gavin]

  40. 40
    Louise says:

    I read many of the climate change blogs of all ‘sides’. I frequently find other blogs pointed to as proof of a particular issue – especially WUWT. I would like to be able to go directly to a science based site where somebody knowledgeable has already provided a rebuttal to the WUWT article so that I can see just where they’ve got it wrong.

    A good example is this article –

    It does seem that several folks even at WUWT have shown that there are significant flaws in this but I can’t always find such posts in the comments section.

    I know that it would be quite a burden to ensure that every WUWT article has a rebuttal here (or somewhere linked) as that is quite a prolific site but I think it should be done. I do use the Skeptical Science site too but rebuttals specific to WUWT items would be better I think.

    If there are thousands of scientists working on climate change (as we are told in concensus pieces), perhaps these others should be encouraged to contribute. After all, if the denier meme becomes dominant, they may find it harder to access funding so it is in their own interests to ensure the truth is known.

    [Response: This isn’t quite what you are looking for, but there is a web site devoted to bringing Watts to task. It’s called wottsupwiththat–eric]

  41. 41
    Adam R. says:

    The live preview function is great.

    Happy New Year and thanks to all who bring us this excellent blog.

  42. 42
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I don’t think there is a sort of “rapid action force” to combat bullshit papers. The thing is that if you are a scientist (as opposed to an idjit pretending to be a scientist on a blog), you know better than to attach much importance to a single paper, especially one that purports to overturn a theory that has been established for a century.

    Unfortunately most laymen have zero understanding of how science is actually done or what scientific concensus is, and there seems to be a minor industry publishing crap that takes advantage of the public’s credulity when they hear the word “peer reviewed”. Energy and Environment was one of the first–it makes no secret of its political nature. Other publications aren’t political, but merely provide an outlet for researchers to publish crap. Scientists know that these journals should come printed on 4-inch squares and wrapped around a cardboard roll. The public, not so much.

    If it’s climate related, at some point, it will probably be mentioned on the most current thread of Realclimate. Tamino’s Open Mind also does absolutely beautiful demolitions of WTFUWT’s cerebral flatulence. Rabett Run occasionally skewers an idjit or two. Deepclimate follows the oily money, and anything you can find by John Mashey is worth reading. is good against the denialist memes.

    About this particular incident of dumber-than-owl-droppings idiocy, Rattus Norwegicus vectored me to this nice, little evisceration of the publisher:

    So, in short, “Watch these spaces” and ask questions. It will become very clear that the two “sides” of this debate are science vs. anti-science.

  43. 43
    Louise says:

    Ray Ladbury – thanks for your reply

    I do have a science background (long time ago) but do not have sufficient knowledge of climate science to be able to instantly spot the problems in the non-science stuff posted at places like WUWT (and even worse, I lack the confidence in my own ability to state what I believe to be the problems without confirmation from another source). Hence, I would like a site that I could click on that I know will be keeping tabs on WUWT.

    I list that site in particular as it does seem to be the main home of the deniers and whackos and so I feel a team of dedicated WUWT rebutters would be useful in a similar way that keeps an eye on Monckton.

  44. 44
    Hank Roberts says:

    > that site in particular

    Only at the moment. Over years, there’s slow movement.
    Look back a few years and you’ll find the gathering place changes over time, to wherever a blog host can be relied on not to challenge bogus claims.
    When the host encourages that stuff, the site fills up with what you see.

    If you’re dubious, ask people posting the usual talking points where they found what they believe and why they consider their source reliable and trustworthy. Such claims usually aren’t cited; those who’ve discovered them want to post them as their own ideas and argue them yet another time again.

  45. 45
    Anne van der Bom says:


    The idea of a one-stop-shop for providing balance (to use a word they like so much over there) to WUWT was exactly what I thought of too. If done right (eg providing all data and ready-to-run scripts to replicate the correct results), it could be very effective.

  46. 46
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Really, your best bet is to go through Realclimate and skepticalscience and get familiar with the recurring memes. There really aren’t that many, and they keep being recycled:

    1)”It’s all a fraud”–absurd on its face, as it would have to include not just climate science, but physics, geophysics, chemistry,…
    2)”It’s all down to UHI, GCR, black carbon…”–Invariably these arguments restrict themselves to a tiny portion of the evidence available and show they can “sort of” explain that with some other cause than greenhouse gasses. I guarantee they will not simultaneousl consider tropospheric warming and startospheric cooling, spatiotemporal characteristics of warming, etc.
    3)”The models are all wrong…”–again, these arguments restrict themselves to a tiny portion of the evidence, usually a cherry-picked dataset. They also invariably distort what the model outputs mean
    4)”CO2 sensitivity vs positive/negative feedback”–This one can be subtle–that’s why actual climate scientists like Lindzen and Spencer play in this arena. Often, they obtain low sensitivity estimates by distorting the timescale of climate response (e.g. exaggerate the speed with which the system comes to equilibrium). Also, there tends to be a good bit of cherry-picking datasets and questionable analysis (e.g. Lindzen & Choi 2009). Finally, they utterly ignore all the things you can’t understand about Earth’s climate without a significant positive feedback on energy input into the climate system.
    5)Finally, my favorite–the contention that there is no greenhouse effect. This one is so absurd that it ought to be disproved simply by the volume of laughter it generates. Invariably, though, you find these papers to be riddled with errors–e.g. G&T, Miskolczi…

    It took me, with a physics PhD, about 3 years until I felt comfortable with some of the more subtle aspects of climate theory. However, one can pretty quickly learn that the denialists don’t have much in their arsenal, and that the memes repeat themselves with about a 1-2 year periodicity.

  47. 47
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    I don’t think much of a site devoted to debunking rubbish since there’s an infinite amount of rubbish. The editorial process of scientific journals is kind of the sentinel to obvious bilge.

    If a blog appearance is all a theory has going for it, why worry about it?

  48. 48
    Hank Roberts says:

    > that site in particular

    This may help:

  49. 49
    Didactylos says:

    There’s an odd bug in the live preview. It can’t cope with URLs that end in a digit. Just testing to see how it behaves in the actual comment:
    same link (this breaks the preview and doesn’t render) (this line doesn’t render in the preview)
    same link with an extra / (this works, but the workaround is only valid for some URLs)

    It’s more broken than I thought, the link that doesn’t display in the preview totally screws up the preview text following it, too. View source, and it’s a total mess.

  50. 50
    Didactylos says:

    Good news: this bug only affects the preview. It may even be browser-specific.

    [Response: Well, I can replicate the bug, and it is related to a specific string replace line in the php (line 101): s = s.replace(/(\d+)"/g, '$1″'); . I commented it out, and the bug disappears, but it may have broken the preview in other ways. I will notify the authors and see what they suggest. In the meantime, my ‘fix’ is in. – gavin]