RealClimate logo

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. 101
    Hank Roberts says:

    > magically-appearing paragraph-level permalinks

    Can’t see’em at all. (Firefox 4.0b8)
    (I can see they should be there, viewing the page source)

    Users who don’t like them could probably filter them out with AdBlock or something like that if they have a recognizable URL.

    I would prefer to see them.

  2. 102
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oh, turning off all the NoScript, now I see a green pound sign just once after the original main post, and above that a “+share” window telling me to get “addthis for Firefox” — perhaps I’d need that to see permalinks? Dunno.

  3. 103
    Hank Roberts says:

    OK, apparently for Firefox I have to voluntarily install the “addthis” extension to see the sharing/permalink stuff — and it says “…. Each option can be enabled or disabled separately from the add-on preferences.” So I’ll try that.

    People who don’t want to see the stuff should be able to disable it in a browser that lets them control their own computer; if yours doesn’t try Firefox….

  4. 104

    Thanks for a most needed website, writing about the most serious problem which ever hit mankind – and for too many of us living individuals feels just like a slowly creeping problem. That said for those which are not among the millions of people directly hurt in flooded Australian, American or Pakistani cities…

    I’ve got a question:
    The right column heading...: "Other Opinions"
    Should maybe been spelled: "Others Opinions"?

    The “Other” word give me the feeling that these links will lead to some fundamental other opinions? (like denialists…). Just like “other” pointing to “other meanings”, and not to “other peoples opinions” which I think is what the heading want to imply? Certainly we will also understand that other peoples opinions (or Others Opinions), as linked to from, still can’t be given any responsibility from the or its authors.

    Disclaimer: Since my native language is Norwegian, and not English – I may not be right in my interpretation.

    [Response: “Other” here does indeed means “not ours” but it doesn’t imply that we disagree. You are technically correct that we should say “Others’ Opinions” (note the possessive apostrophe) if we want to be clear that we are talking about the opinions of authors. The meaning is subtly different, and your English is very good, evidently!–eric]

  5. 105
    Hank Roberts says:

    hmmm, adding ‘AddThis’ extension and enabling WordPress doesn’t change anything I see. AddThis Prefs shows it changed my search settings to results it provides, and the button to reset search to the Firefox settings doesn’t seem to work. Ummmmmm.

  6. 106
    David B. Benson says:


    The Bore Hole!

  7. 107
    Septic Matthew says:

    96, Brian Brademeyer: Your current comment structure (numbered, in chronological order, broken into pages) is the best format I have found on the web.

    On that I concur, fwiw.

  8. 108
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ Septic Matthew — 4 Jan 2011 @ 6:01 PM and others referring to prior posts.
    The number of a post may be changed as comments are added, but the name + date/time don’t. Brian Brademeyer’s comment might get bumped from #96, but it will always have been posted 4 Jan 2011 @ 1:49 PM

    I sometimes don’t follow topics for several days, and I like the option to open all the chain in one big page. I find that easier to scroll back and forth in than across multiple pages, and “find” will allow me to quickly follow one person or one idea through the entire thread. For instance, “Firefox” occurs in comments 4, 12, 17, 101, 102, 103, and 105 (as long as they don’t get bumped)

  9. 109
    Doug says:

    [Response: Can we get a vote? I’m not wedded to paragraph links, but I think some kind of sharing plugin is needed. – gavin]

    I’d like to hear others’ opinions, but in my experience, people who use social media sites like Twitter & Facebook already know how to share links on those sites. The pop-up window invariably blocks content that I’m trying to read.

    @Hank Roberts: The Add-This and paragraph permalinks are completely separate things and don’t interact.

    Add-This is an external JavaScript that your browser (via NoScript) probably blocks. You don’t need to have their plugin installed to see it, but if you install the plugin, you will have similar functionality on all websites, not just this one.

    The permalinks are completely controlled by CSS and use no JavaScript at all.

    @Gavin: From a user-centric perspective, things that flash or move or pop up command your attention. What do you want commanding your visitors’ attention, flashing octothorpes and social-media links, or your content?

    [Response: We could replace the pop-up with some buttons. Would that work better for people who use these services? – gavin]

  10. 110
    flxible says:

    For my money ;) the pop up as implemented here [on Opera browser anyway] is much preferable to the permanent allocation of screen real estate to a bunch of buttons, if one doesn’t wish to see the pop up, just avoid mousing over it. I prefer to watch the main page where the string of posts are listed, and the Add/Share widgets aren’t there [a good thing].

  11. 111
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “I encountered another person who says we don’t have to worry about climate because “God” will fix it.” – 70

    Only 1? I encounter at least 4 of them a week.

    You really need to get out more.

  12. 112
    Septic Matthew says:

    Is it possible to search a thread? If not, it would be nice if you could enable searches for the long threads. If it is possible, can you teach me how to do it?

  13. 113
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ok, for feedback, I see only one octothorpe, at the very end of the main post, after the AddThis thing. The URL behind the one I see is:

    which suggests there are probably three more of them earlier, I don’t see.

    [Response: Mouse over each paragraph to see. – gavin]

    [Further response: We’ve turned off this feature – it was kind of annoying. – gavin]

  14. 114
    flxible says:

    Septic Matthew – To search whatever page [thread] you have currently in focus, simply use your browser “Find” function, on my browser it’s under the “Edit” dropdown.

  15. 115
    Anna says:

    I’ve been reading RealClimate for a few years and whilst the content of the posts is great, the font is not. I personally find it very unpleasant to read.

    I’ve tried looking at RealClimate using several different browsers and operating systems, the post font sometimes looks good (when it renders as Helvetica) but mostly it doesn’t.

    I downloaded the home page and I’ve been playing around with the CSS and the problem (when looked at through my browser, Firefox 3.6 on Windows XP) lies in the p,li,.feedback class, where Arial has to be listed before Helvetica for the fonts to display properly. If Helvetica is listed first (as is currently the case) the text renders in a very odd mashed and clipped sort of way. I haven’t got a clue why the order would matter so much though.

    I would greatly appreciate it if Arial could be listed before Helvetica in the RealClimate CSS.

  16. 116
    CM says:

    Re: comment threading,

    I’m not advocating any change from the current system. But FWIW, I think the perfect compromise is one I’ve seen implemented on Movable Type-based blogs (presumably there’s a WP plugin to do the same thing, I dunno). Brief description:

    Every comment gets a “Reply to this” button. Starting a new comment as a reply equips it with a permalink to the comment you’re replying to, and some descriptive text, a la “This is a reply to troll76 at #434”. But the new comment appears at the end of the list anyway. All comments appear as a single chronological sequence on the page: there are no branches for disinformation-injecting trolls to hang out on. Still, you can follow subthreads backward by clicking on the links. Moreover, it becomes feasible to extract subthreads automatically, if a really interesting (or really off-topic) exchange takes place over long intervals.

  17. 117

    While we’re wish-listing here, the only relevant frustration I’ve had is that sometimes it’s quite hard to find old posts/comments. I’m sure they’re all there in the archives somewhere, but quite often I’ve not been able to locate specific comments that I or others have made.

    I don’t have a really well-formed idea for a fix, but the problem is that any search method I’ve tried so far only gets you to the right post, leaving you with the unfortunate necessity of manually scrolling through several hundred comments. The first couple of hits are listed, but to find subsequent hits in the post, you’re on your own–and you don’t even know how many hits there are in the thread.

  18. 118

    Just tried flxible’s method to search threads. (#114.) Worked like a charm, once I figured out that you need to use the ‘previous/next’ buttons that pop up. Thank you, flxible!

    So the search becomes a two-step process: use the RC search function to locate relevant posts, then search them internally as flxible describes. Maybe this process could be incorporated in RC “how to navigate” notes somewhere; then queries could be pointed to them. (For all I know, this has been done already and I missed it.)

  19. 119
    wili says:

    Thanks Benson (@77) for your input about possibilities for carbon sequestration. There does not seem to be much political will for this, of course, and, of course, there are huge ironies in spending enormous resources on sequestering carbon while we are at the same time furiously UN-sequestering it.

    Meanwhile, I would very much like to know what people make of this recent presentation by Shakhova:

    This passage from slide # 34 seems particularly…troubling:

    “Interpretation of acoustical data recorded with deployed multibeam sonar allowed moderate quantification of bottom fluxes as high as 44
    g/m2/d (Leifer et al., in preparation). Prorating these numbers to the areas of hot spots (210×103 km2) adds 3.5Gt to annual methane release from the
    ESAS. This is enough to trigger abrupt climate change (Archer, 2005).”

  20. 120
    Septic Matthew says:

    114, flxible

    Thank you.

  21. 121
    grunt says:

    As there has never been a poll on who the science deniers think is organizing the global warming hoax, I was going to suggest RealClimate do one, but then I found an article here where anyone can vote:
    Currently the Lizard People are leading the poll, closely followed by Maurice Strong, Julia Roberts and Osama Bin Laden. Surprisingly the scientists are in the clear – Michael Mann and Phil Jones don’t have a vote between them!

  22. 122
    SecularAnimist says:

    I am grateful to all the maintainers and moderators of this site for what you are doing here.

    At the same time, when I read the articles posted here, I sometimes feel as though astronomers had identified a large asteroid that is hurtling towards the Earth with a 95 percent probability of a civilization-destroying, and probably biosphere-destroying, collision within a few decades; and I am reading a blog where scientists write about their investigations into the intriguing questions of the exact chemical composition, structure and history of the asteroid. And then the comment pages are filled with endless, repetitive arguments with cranks who maintain that the very existence of these things called “asteroids” is merely a speculative hypothesis if not a hoax.

  23. 123
    David B. Benson says:

    wili @119 — It seems (according to a blogger elsewhere) the IEA claims that, world wide, governments subsidize the fossil fuel industry to the tune of half a trillion dollars a year. That sum would do nicely.

    As for methane expression, on a earlier thread a RealClimate climatologist suggested it is not (yet) a concern.

  24. 124
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    SecularAnimist 122 I’m afraid your analogy is quite accurate. This is what drives BPL’s fervour. For myself, I think that we (globally) will change our ways over time, and that then we will then learn, slowly but surely, and for many more of us, fatally, just how much damage we did. I also accept the premises that life is adaptive, complex, and impossible to suppress. Optimism and pessimism soup?

  25. 125
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    SecularAnimist & One Anonymous Bloke. I whole heartedly agree with both of you. I’ts as though no one is taking the issue nearly as seriously as they should be. Your analogy about the asteroid I interpret this way…there is a 95% chance that this will destroy the entire framework of life on this planet but a certain county who’s anagam is ASU says we’ll give that 5% chance the benefit of the doubt as an excuse to sit on our hands and do NOTHING! We will only act if ALL the world’s climate scientists agree that there is a 100% chance that the infrastructure for life will be destroyed within the next 2-300 years. IT seems to me this mentality is increasingly dominant. Dare I sound too conspirational and suggest that the leaders of the western world already realise as they have been informerd by agencies in the know that it is indeed too late for any meaningful reversal of the unstoppable juggernaut that is Global warming so why bother to invest in something that is economically detremental.

  26. 126

    #121–Evidently the question is being treated with the seriousness it merits.

  27. 127

    125 (Lawrence Coleman),

    We will only act if ALL the world’s climate scientists agree that there is a 100% chance that the infrastructure for life will be destroyed within the next 2-300 years.

    I don’t think this would actually do it, either, the key being that the 200-300 year time frame leaves too much wiggle room for both the faux-intellectual argument that by then we’ll have devised asteroid vaporization technology. More importantly, however, on the emotional level, 200-300 years is just too distant for today’s selfish what’s-on-my-agenda-for-today-and-TV-tonight people of the ASU.

    I see two behaviors that irk me more than any other, because they are so quietly insidious.

    The first is that people, emotionally, don’t react to climate change because the real dangers are 30-50 or even 100 years in the future. Yes, they have children and grandchildren that they should care about, but they just can’t wrap their arms around a problem that distant. “So much could happen before then…”

    The second is when deniers say things like “the Arctic hasn’t melted yet — see, there’s no warming” or “the Amazon is fine — see, there’s no warming” or “crop production continues to increase — see, there’s no warming.” They not only aren’t looking ahead, but they’re using the long time frame of events to play to people’s own natural time-sensitivity. If it hasn’t done anything bad yet, then it’s not real.

    It reminds me in an unexpected way of the tale of the condemned man who convinced the king that he could teach a horse to sing, if given the chance. This earned the prisoner a year’s reprieve, with the remonstrations of his cell mate for his idiocy in thinking he could teach a horse to sing, to which he replied “A lot could happen in a year. The king could die. The horse could die. Or I could die. And who knows, maybe the horse will learn to sing.”

    In the climate denial version of this, the condemned prisoner has a choice between hard labor for a month, versus a year of leisure while trying to teach the horse to sing — with execution at the end of that year if he fails.

    And the deniers opt for trying to teach the horse to sing.

  28. 128
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Lawrence Coleman 125, the “economically detrimental” argument is a red herring. AGW won’t be economically detrimental for the entrepreneurs who set up clean (ie carbon neutral) energy generation plants, nor those selling hydrogen for fuel (for example).

  29. 129
    wili says:

    Benson, thanks again. I believe I also have heard the figure of 1/2 trillion for ff subsidies, I believe from Hazel Henderson, the iconoclastic economist (say that ten times fast!).

    This seems a vast understatement if you include the cost of oil wars–Iraq alone having already cost between .7 and 3 trillion dollars (results of first two entries that came up under google search.)

    The problem, again, of course, is that there are incredibly powerful forces insisting that these moneys be allocated in these ways. Essentially ffs are the power–physical and political–behind modern industrial society, and it is difficult to impossible to wrest power from power (especially for the relatively powerless scientific and environmental communities). I’m tending to agree these days with Nader’s recent partly-tongue-in-cheek book that only a coalition of the wealthiest individuals in the world can move us from our terracidal track at this point.

    On the methane thing, I followed that discussion here closely and found it to be the most disappointing thread I have followed on RC. Shakhova is perhaps the most involved researcher in this area, and it seems to me it behooves us to look carefully at her latest findings. I certainly hope I am misinterpreting her statement. Others’ further insights and interpretations would be most welcome.

    Here is the link again:

  30. 130
    Imbroglio says:

    I assume the the so**alism filtering is due to the Scunthorpe problem as applied to 3rd-8th letters of the word in question.
    Spe**alists are presumably also filtered. I hope that this can be fixed without letting a spam-flood through.


  31. 131
    GFW says:

    That’s odd, what happened to my quotation marks? “Test”

  32. 132
    JMurphy says:

    The text has become very small in every comment after 104 – or is it something I’ve done somehow ?!

    I also agree with Barton Paul Levenson’s comment at 59 – his site is a useful addition to any other site that goes into detail on AGW. But perhaps you had to draw the line at a certain number of external links ?

    For the record, BPL’s Climate pages are here.

  33. 133
  34. 134
    Dave Werth says:

    One problem I have is if I use any version of Javaconsole past 6.0.05 the comments pop-up doesn’t work. I’m using Firefox 3.6. Anyone have an answer for that?

    [Response: Odd. The ‘Comments (pop-up)’ link doesn’t use java, I’m pretty sure. Do you have any error messages on the console? – gavin]

  35. 135
    Doug says:

    Another day, another complaint: The post-level comment feeds are broken.

    For example, the link for the comments feed on this particular post is

    Try it, and you will see that it redirects you to
    (which is a site-wide feed of all comments here.)

    This redirection is probably a “feature” of the FeedBurner WordPress
    plugin. You get great stats and other features from FeedBurner, but
    this redirection has two drawbacks for users: 1) It disables a
    valuable feature for users, namely the ability to subscribe to
    comments for a particular post. 2) It defies user expectations because
    the comments feed is still advertised in the post HEAD.

    [Response: I don’t think we ever had post-specific comment RSS feeds – it was always for all the comments. – gavin]

  36. 136
    Hank Roberts says:

    Echoing others, having links high up at the top to the current “chatroom” thread and the borehole would be handy.

  37. 137
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Would a link to potholer54’s youtube channel be appropriate?
    One media outlet that does pretty well.

  38. 138
    David B. Benson says:

    The Bore Hole is a hoot.


  39. 139
    Anna Haynes says:

    Would you guys consider reducing the comment pagination? Right now if I want to see if someone’s mentioned “Z” in comments to a particular post, I have to search multiple times (multiple pages) for “Z”. And (AFAIK) pagination doesn’t yield benefits, since text is so cheap, bitwise – the only benefit to pagination is if you’re serving up ads, and want readers to be inconvenienced by them.

    Or if you can’t eliminate it entirely, could you make it, say, a limit of 200 comments/page rather than 50?

  40. 140
    Anna Haynes says:

    FYI/suggestion, the “comments popup” page (which does have unpaginated comments BTW, unlike the “post page”) doesn’t seem to contain a link back to the post that it’s commenting on; which has tripped me up more than once, when I wanted to see the post. It would be nice if it contained a clearly identified link back.

    And if your comments form does fancy footwork with links w/in a comment, eg by stripping out the “href=…” part of an HTML-ified link, it’d be nice if the Preview did so too (to warn the commenter), and even better if the form itself provided a warning – text or otherwise – that it does this, to keep de-linked comments like this ( from appearing.

  41. 141
    Anna Haynes says:

    Also it would be nice if clicking on RC’s banner image brought one back to its home page.

  42. 142
    flxible says:

    Anna – Not sure what your problem might be, but the banner here does lead me back to the “home page”, which is the main page of post beginnings, where I can still see the posts because the pop up comments only covers half the screen, might be the configuration of your browser . . . also no problem with links in the comment box, which will show in the preview if you’ve completed them, nothing stripped out …. maybe the best thing about the preview, which some apparently don’t take the time to actually read before posting – also makes it easy to copy your whole post in case you blow the CAPTCHA :)

  43. 143
    Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Just perused the Bore Hole. I like it. All the paranoia, conspiracy theories, unsubstantiated opinions, confusing grammar and links to cooked graphs in one tidy place. Quite entertaining. Thanks, and a belated Happy New Year to you all (and Gavin, if I ever see you at a conference I’m going to corner you for a quick juggling session).

  44. 144
    Hank Roberts says:

    Anna is right about the second banner (_in_the_comments_popup, the black and white text “RealClimate” at the top of that ) — that just takes you to, er, itself.

    Note there are two ways to read a post:
    — with pages of comments (and page-up gets you back at the top to the text of the main post), OR, with a popup containing all the comments that’s linked immediately below the main post with “Comments (pop-up) (143)”

    Or if you ignore that and page down, you’re reading the comments page by page, which is indeed much more tedious to search.

  45. 145
    flxible says:

    WOW! Props to Mila on that guide to RC, and thanks for linking to it prominently, although it’ll no doubt be ignored by those who need it most [down there in the deep].

  46. 146
    Hank Roberts says:

    Probably worth losing the ‘borehole’ items from the “Recent” list, else they’ll aim to fill it up.

    And they don’t get added to a Google site search or credited as valid search results for RC, I hope.

    That stuff is amusing for a while, but if you keep the opportunity to land there available it will attract those who like that kind of thing. Keep too open a mind or blog, people will shovel it full.

    Suggestion repeated — give the bore a single button, set well apart from the good stuff.

    And again, suggesting “chat room” button link to the current open thread

  47. 147
    Hank Roberts says:

    Suggestion; lessen the visibility of the borehole, take those out of ‘recent comments’ and give it a new button off in the corner, less visible than a new button leading to the current open thread.

    While it’s a chance for prominence, people will aim to land in it hoping their posting pops up on the recent list and is more easily seen than if lost in a thread and ignored.

    I hope posts there aren’t being indexed by Google as good info from RC.

    [Response: I’ve filtered it from the recent comment listings. And there is a discreet link at the bottom of the categories list. The rest can come soon…- gavin]

  48. 148
    Dave Werth says:

    RE: #134

    … any version of Javaconsole past 6.0.05 the comments pop-up doesn’t work.

    [Response: Odd. The ‘Comments (pop-up)’ link doesn’t use java, I’m pretty sure… – gavin]

    I found the problem by accident. It’s my ZoneAlarm Toolbar. When I disable it any version of java is fine. With it enabled any java version over 6.0.05 that I enable stops the pop-up comments from opening. I’ll inform ZoneAlarm.

  49. 149
    Hank Roberts says:

    > visibility of the borehole
    Thank you Gavin.

    > the spam filter

    Google for lists and you’ll see why it can’t be relaxed — sites that publish their keyword list attract spammers who will use the lists to work around the barrier. It ain’t easy. I found that acquiring a list of commonly spammed phar ma ceuti cals is very helpful (google for one, don’t ask for it here).

    I’d bet the marketers come up with names for new drugs by taking science dictionaries and carving chunks out of words found there.

    I’ll predict new drugs called “aleo” or “atisti” or “pectrom” or “adiati” or “dimenta” on that basis.

  50. 150
    mondo says:

    My own view is that the establishment of The Bore Hole is likely to be the most successful RC initiative in attracting an audience. Good on you for doing it.