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30 Comments

      1. Maybe ask for a volunteer of good character, level temperament and good atomic experience, maybe retired, who could share the moderation as a labor of love?

        1. It could be worth asking. Perhaps even a handful of volunteers.
          I have really enjoyed the discussions here. The participants tend to be informed, thoughtful and respectful — and I’ve tried to make my comments fitting.

  1. Worth a try. Track you web stats for a week or two. My “guess” is 10% come only because they like to engage in the comments. But most are here because they appreciate your informed input. Web stats will give info to reconsider your decision. If your hits mostly go away… well?

  2. Here I thought Rod had just gone on vacation, all quiet-like.

    I get nothing from the trolls, but the informed Q&A often brings out things that are new to me.  I don’t know if I ever would have learned about Cal Abel’s inventions were it not for discussion here.

    Any post without open comments is unlikely to get a second read from me, that’s for sure.

    1. As someone new to nuclear energy, I would like to echo E-P’s comment. The comment sections is gold mine of information and insights from other very knowledgeable people, allowing questions, points and counter points. It would be very unfortunate if the comments were removed.

      Possible solutions??:
      1. Just allow self regulation, let the readers determine the spam/trolls and ignore them.
      2. Create an “advisory board” of volunteer moderators (long time contributors) to assist in the process.
      3. Post the article on A.I. and the Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum (or other nuclear forum) and direct any comments to go there.

      1. I have been following nuclear energy discussions since the days of Usenet. There can be a lot of dross in some comment threads here, but there are also many nuggets of gold to be found as well. I appreciate the amount of work it requires to moderate.

        Tom d (above) offered a few suggestions. Let me toss in a refinement of his suggestion #1. Establish a voting system where discussion posts can be “voted off the island” into an “Additional Discussion” section. Perhaps only those who have contributed to previous discussions could vote. It might be valuable to have several choices beyond “Like” and “Don’t Like”. I could see a category such “Don’t Like But Keep in Main Discussion Section”, so that the discussion don’t turn into just so much preaching to the choir.

  3. There are various tools that could make things easier.

    1. A Recent Comments stream allowing anyone to see or jump to the latest discussion without plowing through lots of recent articles.

    2. A set of Commenting Guidelines. The more hot-tempered the general level of discussion is, the more the stress levels go up and the more energy is drained from those involved. None of us need that! Brave New Climate seems to have a good balance of informed discussion and abbreviation/binning of obvious tripe, thanks to its comments policy (play the ball, not the man, back up your assertions with references, be informative and respectful.) Maybe also a TL;DR-type rule against vacuous verbiage.

    3. Trustworthy and responsive third-party moderation.

  4. I enjoy both Rod’s posts, and the comment streams here on AI.

    I don’t know anything about the mechanics of running a blogsite like this, but I can certainly appreciate that moderating the comments is a huge effort. Further, I imagine it is also like tending livestock – a never ending job you can’t turn your back on for a minute. I have seen comment threads go horribly bad, even in a closed list-server (jtan) environment where all of the participants are known to the host.

    So, I suppose I will miss the comment streams here. But I look forward to whatever Rod does with his new found “free time.”

  5. One of the reasons I stopped posting comments on this and other pronuclear sites was that I determined that fencing with trolls is not an effective use of my time. However I have continued to read the lead articles and certainly, as the recent post by Evan Twarog proves, if someone else has something useful to bring to this place, Rod will make room for it.

    I have come to the conclusion that the value of open debate in forms like this has long passed, and energies need to be refocused into more productive actions and I have always questioned the practice of giving a platform to those from the other side, as they have never demonstrated that they are willing to do the same in their spaces.

    Thus, for what it is worth, this initiative has my full support.

    1. Agreed. I’ ve heard enough of the “Zero is the optimum level of Ionizing radiation” dude, and the “more birds bump into and die from containment buildings than windmills” perspective;
      I’ve heard and laughed at the perspective that Nuclear has higher CO2 production than sunshine and breeze energy too. Enough is enough. If I need more comic relief, I’ll read the funny papers.

      Rod, concentrate on the book ( you have enough material), and please do the requisite book tour after your publication. Scare the willikers out of the Oil and Gas industry.

      Perhaps comments could still come in, and perhaps volunteers could read them (not me), and you could ask the great comment authors to expand their perspective in guest posts. The recent post from Evan Twarog gives great evidence that this may be a productive way to go.

    2. I agree with DV8 on this, and I am fortunate that I can keep my comment brief, because he has already written almost exactly what I otherwise would have.

  6. From gmax137 – “I don’t know anything about the mechanics of running a blogsite like this, but I can certainly appreciate that moderating the comments is a huge effort. Further, I imagine it is also like tending livestock –”

    I imagine the task is like herding cats.

    You’ve got years of material from your website. A well written book could be gleaned from the information. If limiting posts allows this book to be written, go for it!

  7. I dont know. I like the varied perspective. It doesn’t belong next to some pieces or technical discussion I guess, and there are technical tidbits that are important that also dont always belong too.

    How bout a more loosely “unmoderated” and somewhat unguarded general discussion thread? Like the twitter panel perhaps, or whatever. Yes its all a chore to keep up with id imagine, but I wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The lively and diverse comment section is not only information, feedback and perspective, but also provides motivation and is something of a measure of the success of this site.

    And also: If it ain’t broke …..

  8. As a perpetual lurker on the site, I’m quite divided over the new policy. I fully understand Rod’s desire to focus effort, but so many of the regular responders bring so much to the table it’d be a shame to see that go by the wayside.

    I’m sure some sort of medium will be determined, and all will go forward as more or less desired by Rod and the community. To the point of engaging the trolls, I do enough of that on other sites to get my. I’m rather amused by it, but I also think it has a somewhat serious side. So often tripe is spewed as knowledge, and there are damn few folks who will attempt to wrestle with the trolls so as to at least provide an alternative perspective.

    Though I am not trained in nuclear matters I believe I grok it fairly well, and I’m willing to be one of those willing to tangle with the underinformed out there. I really don’t think there are enough folks doing this, and on this forum it is, if I may be so bold, quite the echo chamber, much of the time. 🙁

    Having the informed comments provides me with ammunition. I hope you won’t let the powder run dry…

    Tom Herrera aka TemplarMyst

  9. Rod said “As much as I enjoy the give and take here, I’ve decided it’s time to be more judicious in my time management.”

    I certainly understand your predicament, and while I will miss the give and take of the fine comments often left on your Blog, I would encourage you to take steps to defend your time and preserve your personal resources for larger worthwhile projects.

    I wish you success in all of your future endeavors.
    —–
    Kirk Sorensen, who I greatly admire, has found experimentally that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of time he spends on social computing including Blogs and Facebook pages and the amount of anything else pro-nuclear that he is able to get done, including actual nuclear engineering and managing a small nuclear startup. Kirk has had some success in delegating comment supervision on the Energy From Thorium Blog and the EFTh Facebook page.

  10. Rod,

    I have learned a great deal from the comments over the past several years. Please leave them attached to the existing posts so that their information remains available, but you can close additional comments so you don’t have to moderate the old ones. Over and over the responses to a negative person have been amazingly rich. Occasionally we have a cat fight, but that is fairly rare. I have enjoyed the conversations on this site better than any other ones I see. Your moderation style is rare and extremely helpful.

    If you want to make all new posts without comments that is fine, I will miss them, but please leave the old comments in place.

    I often follow the links that people give here and the quality of experience in the comment section is amazing.

    I have noticed that generally the arguments for and against Nuclear power are becoming “tribal” as commenters on various sites get used to the arguments given. We need a way to break out of the mold. The ability to say “Fukushima” and end a debate is frustrating. How can we reach a broad audience with a clear message?

  11. Rod, I do read the comments and (1) learn about things and (2) meet new people. Could you (a) turn off comments a week after the post, (b) set up the machinery to block repeating trolls automatically, (c) delegate troll-deletion to trusted friends [but I’m not volunteering].

  12. I agree with others that comments are useful. I sometimes learn as much from them as from the original post. While I understand your desire to moderate discussions, I am not persuaded that it is necessary or ultimately useful. People can filter comments very quickly on their own. Since the majority of posts are from repeat visitors, an intermediate step would be for you to examine the first few posts a person makes and if they are reasonably on target, respectful, and informative (even if, or maybe especially if, they disagree with the conventional wisdom) automatically allow all posts from that person going forward, and conversely.

  13. Thank you all for your thoughts and encouraging words.

    There will be selective opportunities for comments and intriguing discussions in the future. When I have some available time and a post that begs for additional input, I’ll enable comments on that particular post for a while.

    I’d also like to encourage those of you who are interested in producing guest posts to get in touch with me. As Evan can testify, I put a bit of energy into the task of “editor,” but the results can be quite valuable.

    One part of the moderating challenge that people who do not run blogs never see is the vast quantity of real spam that gets filtered into the moderating queue, especially on blogs that have been around a while and have a pretty decent following.

    It’s not unusual for 50-100 spam comments per day with 2-5 real comments in the same moderating queue. Some of you have experienced frustrating delays in getting your comment approved. Imagine the effort required to dig through pages and pages of spam advertising disheartening products for things like ED, imitation NFL products, or fancy sneakers on a mobile device while on the road in order to find the few real comments to approve.

    Imagine the thankless nature of that effort when people complain that their comment hasn’t shown up.

  14. You have been too generous with real trolls. Your usual posts on “differing opinion” issues usually give background (and reference links for study) on both sides of an issue, so you have been fair handling other points of view.
    Keep the comments for all the positive reasons mentioned.
    Block the real trolls.
    If they are not here they can not steal your time on your own web site.
    If they are not here they can not contaminate the folks here to learn.
    The neutral folks here to learn should expect to do some external homework too, as the subject matter is complicated with a lot of history. In short, you do not hide different points of view and you do provide study links on both sides. But there is obviously real constraints on much time you can spoon feed.
    I like the comments too.

  15. Rod – thanks for this thread and to all the commenters. I think you’ve come to the right decision about very selective discussion to go with specific posts.

    You definitely need to finish your book and be on the book circuit. I’d also like to see you getting involved with Gordon McDowell to add additional perspectives to his nuclear and energy videos. At the very least, make sure you get a good recording of your voice when you do a presentation. As Gordon pointed out, you don’t necessarily need great video, but you do need good audio.

    Will you be attending the Small Modular Reactor Summit conference you posted about? That would be an opportunity for McDowell as well. We need to get your ‘thousand flowers’ perspective into his videos. We can’t let Kirk be the only ‘nuclear video celebrity’ in the world….

  16. Yes, a few trusted “topic deputies” would well lighten busy Rod’s load. I also believe it might help to have a non-topic nuclear topic on the side to siphon off stray topics or make off topic suggestions. For example, the other day I saw something that simultaneously reminded me of the gifted blog “10 Things Worst Than Nuclear Power” and a year-old comment in the NRC blog where this anti-nuker shrieked that Indian Point was so radioactive that airline pilots use it as a beacon (I kid you not! It’s around 1 or 2 years old in NRC comments).. I LOL over that then thought why can’t nuclear blogs list up the “Top Anti-Nuke Whoppers Of All Time” just to see what the public’s gullible to and to knock each bogus “fic-fact” down like ten-pins for the benefit of truth for the public? I’ll be asking around others too.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  17. Rod, I’m the guy who asked you that question about blue/gold crewing on civilian nuclear ships.a few months ago – I guess your lack of reply to my follow up question was due to the lack of time you cited above.

    If this comment lands in the spam bucket, well, c’est la vie – life is full of irony.

    To put the brakes on those spam comments, what about looking at something like http://www.areyouahuman.com?

    I’ve found it’s a massively less-suckier version of CAPTCHA without the rage-inducing pants-on-head stupidity and all around crap user experience, and it looks like they have an official WordPress plugin for integration (assuming I’ve guessed right about your site).

    Here’s one of their case studies about a mob that was similarly crapflooded by spammy comments and the (claimed) results: http://areyouahuman.com/public/full/case_studies/spam-annihilated-with-playthru/

    1. @Alex

      Thanks for the plugin suggestion.

      My lack of response to a question several months ago might have been a result of it getting lost in a deep comms pile. I don’t remember the question. Feel free to ask it again.

  18. @Rod

    Cool – glad I might be able to help.

    If this is OT – tell me via email and we can keep yakking there.
    My follow up question was about the training and career pipeline for said crews – I guess your initial cadre (and some fraction of ongoing crew needs) would be drawn from nuclear navies and mobs like Atomflot (thinking of the Arktika class of nuclear-powered icebreakers).

    How would that be supplemented/sustained to fill out such a venture’s complete crew needs?

    1. @Alex Goodwin

      I would expect any commercial endeavor using nuclear propulsion technology to adapt the training and manning construct that has been so successful for the Navy for the past 60 years. Sure, it’s a little pricey but it results in well-paid, well-trained people. The additional cost is less than the fuel cost differential between operating high powered ships with cheap uranium fuel and operating them using distillate fuel oil.

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