Policy change for comments on the FM website

A persistent problem on the FM website is the number of belligerent commenters.  They make big statements, usually laced with insults (sometimes nothing but insults).  When called on their statements, they usually disappear (often to appear again on another thread, repeating this behavior).   When I email them, asking for a response — the email address they gave proves to be a fake.

The most recent case are comments by “Steel Rain” (a great nome de plume).  After insults in 5 comments, he at last gave a few specifics to which I responded with considerable detail.  36 hours later, still no response.  As usual, I emailed a copy to him — receiving a notice “Delivery to the following recipients failed.” 

So I have activated the “comment registration” feature, commonly used  by active websites.  Perhaps this will either screen these people out, or force them to back up their statements.  We’ll see. 


  1. Of those people posting the nine thousand comments during the past 12 months, I’ve taken the extreme step of banning only two. 
  2. The opposite kind of comments are treasured (if not always treated here as well as they deserve).  People like Oldskeptic, Atheist, and FxConde.  They are willing and able to back up their statements, often devastatingly so (as I painfully learned!).
  3. These two sets of characteristics have no relation to their politics.  Both sets of behaviors appear among with politics both of the left and right.

12 thoughts on “Policy change for comments on the FM website”

  1. I don’t think it will make a difference. Someone can just as easily ignore your emails.
    FM reply: True, but it will make me feel better. Answering these comments is sometimes quite depressing.

  2. Fabius, I think you did the right thing. No-one should have to wade through fifty comments from jerks who only want to attack you, and have contempt for the conversation. (Like that “Steel Rain” commenter, or the other swarmers on the same thread.)

  3. OK, back to business. Is anyone else worried that commercial pilots may soon “dummy up” with regard to frank, open, and honest reporting of safety incidents, especially when they screw up? The old policy of “No harm no foul, especially if you fess up.” was highly successful in opening up the safety review process. Now, it sounds like it’s, “If we catch you, we’ll screw you. For life!”. We are sticking our jaws out for a punch from the law of unintended(but foreseeable)consequences.

    See “FAA Revokes Northwest Pilots Licenses“, Aviation Week, 27 October 2009.
    FM reply: To “lawyer up” is just good sense in our society. It’s what police do when investigated.

  4. “OK, back to business. Is anyone else worried that commercial pilots may soon “dummy up” with regard to frank, open, and honest reporting of safety incidents, especially when they screw up?”

    Pilots were forced to dummy up UFOs reports.

    In all seriousness I thought the black helicopter crowd were nut cases. Then I lived in Salt Lake City for 2.5 years and did a lot of driving to neighboring cities. I saw a lot of unmarked black helicopters and some things flying that didn’t seem conventional. I’m not saying we have “visitors”, but there is some odd things flying around out west.
    FM reply: Do you have any evidence about pilots forced to dummy up on UFO reporting (other than peer pressure)? I’ve spent a fair amount of time looking at UFO reports, and see no substantial evidence — a consistent finding during the past 50 years.

  5. I can’t blame you Fabius. It’s very hard to have a reasonable discussion through the noise created by some.

  6. I’m not saying pilots are running in to aliens and being forced to hide their encounters. But NatGo, Discovery, and History do tend to draw a line between speculation and filed reports for aviators.

    The government has done a good job of encouraging the UFO crowd. Roswell is the most classified weather balloon in the history of man. NASA cut off live transmissions in 86 after some odd space video was broadcast.

    Are there aliens visiting earth? Hundreds of millions of years ago, an alien probe could have come through the solar system and found life on earth. Over the years they developed the technology to come here.

    I find it most unlikely, but FM doesn’t like never or always. All I know is I saw some odd things flying in the skys of Utah.
    FM reply: The repeating theme of the USAF investigation of UFO’s is the frequency with which even expert observers cannot correctly identify things they see. This supports the broader evidence of psychologists that human’s are poor observers (police and trial lawyers also know this). Please, no more about UFOs.

  7. It interesting how you take a post, negative to the UFO idea, and view it as Pro UFO.

    My view was:
    1. The government likes to feed the UFO fire.
    2. If you live in Utah, you see a lot of odd things flying about.
    3. I don’t endorse the little green men party.
    FM reply: My apologies if I was unclear. Your post was not “pro-UFO.” I was making a general comment about UFOs. When I give rebuttal I usually cite specific text, to avoid misundertandings like this.

  8. I agree with FM. We have had some massive arguments in the past (and I mean massive), many off post. And I can say he has never (and I hope I have been the same) not responded to a private email (well except the one where I invited him to Australia .. when are you coming?).

    But, in one case mine (mea culpa), personal invective or just silly put downs is out.

    Fine to disagree, but use logic, data and even humour (not FM’s srong point though, he missed some of my best pieces) but satire is very good sometimes at putting a point across.

    For arguers here, never forget the great ‘reductio ad absurdum’ technique, which I love to use against those who propose infinite population growth and get all twitchy about “we are all getting older” nonsense, Spengler (Asia Times) is the poster child for that absurdity of an ‘argument’ .. its not an argument because simple (and I mean simple) maths shows that you will always have a bulge of older people if you level off your population growth. The alternative (R-A-A) is that (say) the US will have to have a trillion and growing population soon to keep young and ‘vital’. Piffle I call those arguments, because they are mathematical nonsense.

    Argue hard here folks, but be polite and at least fair. And plus you can use the word ‘piffle’ here as much as you want.

  9. I think FM is being petty on policy. He takes a posts off subject and then is upset that comments are off subject. He likes to issue warnings to people for on topic posts that he doesn’t agree with. He wants citations on opinions. Lets face it, he’s in the pro poverty crowd.
    FM reply: The vast hours required to run this website earn me the right to set the rules. The comment policy is consistent. Brief detours, a bit of topic drift, are fine. People hijacking threads to discuss their views are not. As for citations, that is perhaps the defining characteristic of this site. In the posts and the comments. There are thousands of other websites for people to express their views without the need to provide a basis. The FM site is different.

    One reason requiring evidence is to prevent people circulating urban legends, as you do here.

    You don’t pay to come here, and the door is always open to leave.

  10. FM: “One reason requiring evidence is to prevent people circulating urban legends, as you do here.

    I’m not circulating urban legends so much as my words are being misunderstood. Having lived in Salt Late city and seeing unmarked black helicopters doesn’t equal the government or aliens are killing cows and draining their blood. Nor does pointing out that America was aware of suspicious Japanese military movement equal FDR let it happen.

    Citations are useful if they reference data , but if they reference other peoples opinions, why not let the commenter think for themselves. I may think Paul Krugman is a hack but my view doesn’t gain or lose value depending on whether I provide a link to someone else that thinks Paul Krugman is a hack.

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