Thursday, March 6, 2014

Help wanted: Mr Bloggie is open to suggestions.

Sou | 1:58 PM Go to the first of 22 comments. Add a comment

The outcome: The Bloggies have committed hari kari.

Tallbloke won the best European blog, GWPF won the best politics blog, ClimateAudit won the best topical blog, JoNova the lifetime achievement and WUWT a couple of equally ridiculous categories!

Sou 31 March 2014

Yesterday I wrote about how I wrote to Mr Bloggie.  I was making the point that last year's infestation of Bloggie awards by climate science deniers has spread rapidly this year.

This year Anthony Watts is urging his fans to vote up climate denier blogs in seven categories.  (Last year they mostly flocked just to the now defunct science and technology category).

A problem needing a fix

Mr Bloggie (Nikolai) replied to my email and said that he is:
open to suggestions of what can be done to fix this.

The process at the moment is described on the Bloggie website here.  It's a fairly simple two-step process that currently involves no input from experts.

I can't think of any sure-fire simple fixes off the top of my head.  More fundamental changes would work, but that would change the nature of the Bloggies.  Things like disqualification or independent vetting before announcing finalists, with stricter criteria for entry into each category.  It's too easy to game the system when it's purely based on popular vote at every step in the process.

Ideas wanted

I know that Greg Laden and others offered Mr Bloggie some suggestions last year, when the situation became so ludicrous that the only finalists in the science and technology category were climate science deniers.

So put on your thinking caps and give Mr Bloggie a hand!


  1. I'll start the idea process with an analogy.

    Back in the old days when there was less money but a lot less competition for the dollar, there used to be a road block at the state border to inspect cars for fruit. You'd see cars parked by the side of the road with children eating oranges, apples and bananas before they crossed the line.

    The aim was to prevent fruit fly infestation of Victoria's horticulture.

    So, my first suggestion is to put in a road block and have expert inspectors check to see if a blog meets criteria for each category (and tighten up the criteria).

    Perhaps not the whole solution. The advantage is that by having voluntary panels of experts in each category (photographers, travel writers, scientists etc) the status of the Bloggies would be lifted to a whole other level.

    Note: that's not just my idea. It was suggested last year by others.

  2. To add to the above. That would change the character of the Bloggies. Perhaps it's time for that. The logical other change would be to have an award chosen by the expert panel as well as a "people's choice" award.

    Lots of possibilities and opportunities would flow. Would need more than one person to run it though.

  3. I'd have thought that blogs promoting ecocide ought not to be eligible for awards any more than blogs promoting (say) genocide.

    1. Fair point. I believe Nikolai said last year that he didn't feel in a position to judge science and tech, so he probably would say the same about this.

      That's why anyone who has a passing interest in helping him out suggest he pulls together some volunteer experts to help him filter out the dross.

      As it stands, his Bloggie awards are being taken over as "freebie" promotion for fake sceptic blogs denying climate science. It has parallels in the not for profit sector where a bunch of people descend on a little NFP organisation, join up as members and take over the joint and use/abuse it for their own purposes.

      The way Nikolai's set it up it was bound to happen sooner or later by one group or another. It just happens to have been taken over by climate science deniers. It could equally well have been young earthers or anti-vaxxers or any group wanting to push a particular single issue barrow.

      With the growth of the internet I doubt Bloggies as they are constructed have any purpose or meaning any more. It will need to move up another level if it wants to survive. That means adding some authority - from experts in different areas. (Eg science is so much more than climate science, politics is so much more than anti-carbon mitigation, Europe is so much more than Tallbloke :D)

  4. What about weighting the votes by using average page views over the past year? It wouldn't completely rule out gaming, but by introducing a measure of the blogs actual observed popularity it should make it more difficult (and given it would mean that anti science blogs could still be nominated we'd be spared their pitiful whining about about how they're being oppressed).

    1. The problem Bloggies has isn't assessing popularity. (The blogs listed can claim to be popular.)

      The problem is that the Bloggies has been infested with a small single issue group managing to be accepted under multiple categories, making the competition and award meaningless and worthless and irrelevant to anyone but a science denier.

      If Nikolai can't stop this, the Bloggies will wither and fade into further obscurity or die altogether.

    2. Sorry, I was heading out for work and was so rushed I substituted quality for popularity. I seem to recall reading on Jeff Masters blog a couple of years back that there were metrics - page views per visitor, average length of visit - that could serve as proxies for quality and sites like WUWT fare pretty badly on these. If these were reliable and it could be easily incorporated then weighting votes by quality would require low quality sites to gather much more votes to win. Per your road block notion, a minimum quality standard could even be enforced for nominations.

      My thinking was, all that would be required is a decent web traffic tracker and a simple weighting algorithm and that this might fall within the, from what I gather, limited resources of the Bloggies.

    3. Oh yes. That makes more sense, Kevin, and would be interesting info in its own right.

  5. I would just second Sou's comment about road blocks.

    My first reaction when reading the previous article was "Best Community or Group weblog? WUWT? WTF?". WUWT is not a "community or group" blog by any stretch of any imagination. Look at the other entrants in that category and the scope of the award. Presumably this is intended for blogs that engage a community by reaching out to them, help them get together to do productive things, or allows a rich group-driven content.

    WUWT does not reach out to a "community" in any real sense, and its content is top-down driven by Willard Anthony. There are climate-related group weblogs, where the majority of the content is generated by the readers/commenters - Neven's is a good example, or Real Climate. Having a couple of people post articles generating a stream of comments that add little or no value is not an example. With no disrepect at all, Hotwhopper is not a candidate here either, because it is also top-down driven, by Sou's top-notch deconstructions of (mostly) WUWT burblings.

    If WUWT's nomination for that category got up, the nomination process is broken. Fixing it won't solve all of Nikolai's problems, but it would be a start.

    Small Dead Animals and Climate Audit may be run by Canadians, but they are not Canadian blogs in the sense I would assume that award was intended. Any more than Neven's is a Dutch-Slovenian blog. Or that Hotwhopper is a particularly Australian blog (though there is certainly some Australian content). These blogs have very little Canadian content and I would say their nomination is also a bit bogus.

    If Nikolai wants his awards to have any meaning, me might have to become a bit expert on a few things he doesn't really care about, or get a team of reviewers.

    1. Sorry, Frank - just when I thought the problem was solved it happens all over again.

      If it's any consolation, I've never once been able to get a comment posted at ClimateProgress since it went to Facebook a couple of years ago. I even opened a Facebook account for the purpose. I was starkly reminded of this when Joe Romm featured HotWhopper prominently in his recent article on Pielke/Holdren but I still couldn't get a comment published - tried twice before giving up. :( (I used to comment there quite often back in the old days.)

  6. The only way to get round the problem is to split out climate from the 'science' category, as otherwise it will completely swamp it due to the following for both climate science and climate anti-science. That will allow the science category to return to some sort of normality. Then climate science should be split into two categories 'Climate-Consensus Science' and 'Climate-Skeptic Science'.

    I've carefully chose the names for the two opposing camps so that everyone will happily put themselves into one or the other category and, what's more, be ideologically opposed to trying to take over the opposite category. It would be tempting to call the second category 'Climate-Denial Science' but we all know what response that would get.

    It's not a perfect solution but then I don't think there is a perfect solution to this problem. The idea of a gatekeeper or panel to decide is unworkable, because who would choose it? As sure as eggs is eggs, one or other camp would object to the people chosen to sit as gatekeepers and it would be easy to take over the panel. Only a method which allows self-selection would work. My simple proposal is the only way round it.

    1. I don't think that would work, John. This isn't about climate science vs denier blogs. It's about denier blogs taking over the Bloggies. (AFAIK climate blogs have never been particularly interested in the Bloggie awards.)

      The science category is no more. (There were no science finalists last year and no technology finalists.)

      Anyway, now that deniers have successfully become finalists in a whole bunch of other categories, why would they be happy to stick to one category? What they've managed to do is find a way they can all get a prize, mostly without having to compete with each other.

      Even if the science and tech category was brought back and deniers were allowed to take it over, now they've had a taste of freedom they'll still probably enter all the other categories as well.

  7. I'd suggest something like:

    Where there is a suspicion that websites belonging to a given class are susceptible to being 'gamed', Bloggies reserve the right to move such websites to a separate, isolated category and remove them from all other categories.

    So they can go in a "Most Popular Climate Contrarianism" category and crap on each other as much as they wish.

    1. I don't think this is about being "gamed". It's more about denier blogs taking over the categories just because they can. Between them they have the numbers to do practically whatever they like. They orchestrate it among themselves without having to play any tricks other than making sure they get all their readers to vote. Now they've got their readers interested, it's self perpetuating. In that sense they've managed a Bloggie "takeover" without having to pay a penny and without having to do any work other than getting their readers to vote each year.

      Now it's becoming known as the "science denier bloggies" it might be too late to fix it. Nikolai would have his work cut out for himself to get some credibility and support from the broader blogging community.

    2. I'm used to watching comments on the Guardian where for years the deniers upped their "recommend counts" using a script. One day they messed it up so that one comment got so many recommends it was obvious to everyone.

      If you are interested in that look for the comment by 'bananachips' which appears on page 2 (assuming similar layout to my PC)


      I have also seen their sockpuppetry go awry when one of them inadvertantly continued a conversation having logged in using the wrong username. Who knows how many other identities they'd registered under.


      So here (on page 6) chaszx at 04 September 2011 5:27pm has metamorphised to danishkeith by 04 September 2011 9:42pm. Oopsadaisy.

      So, in my experience, there is nothing that these people will not stoop to. And it seems that even Watts recognises the issue with his 'instruction' to not cheat - should there be a 'wink wink' there? Or, I dunno, does he want the cheating left to the pros this time round so it will be a little less obvious?

    3. And lets not forget what the moderators at Reddit found:

      "We discovered that the disruptive faction that bombarded climate change posts was actually substantially smaller than it had seemed. Just a small handful of people ran all of the most offensive accounts. What looked like a substantial group of objective skeptics to the outside observer was actually just a few bitter and biased posters with more opinions then evidence."


      I think these people are accustomed to making themselves look like a multitude. I think its how they operate every day: I think its how the fossil fuel industry wants them to operate.

    4. You're right about that part, Millicent. Public polling supports that deniers are a minority of the population - the hard core extreme deniers among them being less than 10% of the general population according to the Yale surveys.

    5. I imagine the volunteers who engage in this behaviour justify it on the grounds that "the other side is doing it". (Professionals need no justification beyond the pay-packet, of course.) As Davids against the Goliaths of Agenda 21, the IPCC and Al Gore they are obliged to use any tactics to save mankind, however reluctantly. History will judge them (well, at least they've got that bit right).

    6. Speaking of gaming the system, who can forget the hilarious CRU spamming affair instigated by McIntyre four years ago, where one of the numpties forgot to modify the template?



    7. Bernard - black humour. (It wasn't hilarious for Phil Jones or the people at CRU.)

      "With contempt, disgust and boredom" probably best describes my opinion of Steve McIntyre. I followed his incompetence for a while before giving up on him as having permanently shifted to irrelevance. That dismal episode is probably the one that shows him at his ugliest. His last ditch effort to stay in the picture and muddy the waters.

      I don't think any respectable scientist would do anything but ignore him these days. I hope so.

    8. My contempt for McIntyre knows no bounds. Only Dickens could really do justice to his style of slimy innuendo, false outrage and obsequious self-preening. Obsequious self-preening does require some remarkable contortions, but McIntyre is well up to it. Rumour has it he's not up to it any other way, but I'm just reporting rumour there. I report, you judge.

  8. Some bits on "astroturfing" and sock puppetry - really nice video instruction on how to pump up books that follow your "religion" and push down those that don't.


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