Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Announcing: Moderated global change discussion forum

As posted to sci.env and elsewhere (?):



We are creating a moderated newsgroup/mailing list for the discussion of environmental science, economics, policy and politics, especially as related to global change issues such as climate change, biodiversity, and sustainability.

The signal to noise ratio on sci.environment and similar unmoderated discussion lists has dropped to the point where it can no longer sustain interesting or informative exchanges of information and ideas.

The success of the lightly moderated discussions on the realclimate.org blog has revealed that the hunger for serious and informed discussion remains. However, blogs do not fully replicate the broad-ranging conversational style that usenet once supported even in controversy-prone areas of interest.

Fortunately, new tools allow us to recapture most of the usenet experience without going through the tedious and archaic process of setting up a "big-eight" newsgroup.

It is difficult to specify what "fair" or "unfair" moderation means without getting tediously legalistic. To avoid endless haggling about this, we formulate our policy thus:

Posts will be admitted to the list if and only if ANY moderator finds the submission to be constructive and/or interesting, on topic, and not gratuitously rude.

We are not unanimous in our opinions, and are open to submissions from people outside the spectrum of opinion represented by the moderators.

We will endeavor to remove obvious provocations ("trolls"). We also discourage postings that are redundant, in the sense that the poster has already made their points and does not seem to take account of the responses but is merely insistently reasserting points previously made.

Whether, as a consequence of this policy, you find the list useful and interesting or otherwise is left to yourself. If you don't like our list, by all means make your own.



Probably the easiest way to participate is to point your browser to
and you can read the messages immediately.

You may send submissions through the web interface, or by email to

Using the interface in this way does not require you to get a Google login.

"Membership" is encouraged, as it permits us to give individual participants an overall approval, reducing propagation delays and the workload of the moderators. Membership does not automatically imply email delivery of messages. Non-members may also post but all their
messages require moderation.


It is also possible to subscribe to the newsgroup as an RSS feed. See
for more information


We are in the process of setting up an NNTP feed through gmane. When it is available we will offer futher information.


You can subscribe to globalchange as a mailing list, but you have to use the web to sign up. Go to
and click "join this group" and follow instructions.

To use this approach you will need to have or set up a free google login.

If you subscribe to the email, you need not ever use the web interface or your google account again. You may send submissions by email to globalchange@googlegroups.com


Looking forward to reviving the historically interesting and productive usenet-style conversations on environmental matters, we are,

your globalchange moderators:

James Annan
Raymond Arritt
Coby Beck
William Connolley
Michael Tobis


Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking this needed step. I participated on sci.env for a few months about a year ago, and rapidly became less than enamored of it due to the aforementioned signal/noise problem.

James Annan said...

It was Michael Tobis who actually obtained the necessary Round Tuit to get things up and running. No doubt it will have its imperfections - but so long as it is usable, it will be an improvement on the current situation!

William M. Connolley said...

You've fouled up you html...

James Annan said...

Oops. Thanks.

Hank Roberts said...

Anyone using OSX Firefox Google has set its cookie, then tells me my cookies are turned off. I tried their help system and got the usual canned Windows-based advice from someone who doesn't read very well.

Can this group be accessed using a plain Usenet newsreader? I still telnet to a Unix host yo use "nn" -- faster than any web interface.
--- Hank Roberts

James Annan said...

I'm using Firefox with no problems.

There is going to be a nntp feed set up, but it doesn't appear to be functional yet. (I think it's just a matter of waiting for someone at gmane.org to do it, it should only be a few days.)

Anonymous said...

Well I have tried to use it. But I crashed my browser (IE6) seven times before I was able to read all of Coby Beck's 2 replies.


Michael Tobis said...

Still no word from gmane (the volunteer NNTP feed people). I will poke them again.

Regarding the browsers, no clue. Google does tend to push browsers pretty hard. I have had pretty severe problems with gmail when my system clock was set in the distant past, but this is a wild guess only.

James Annan said...

I would recommend subscribing to it as an email list anyway, certainly in advance of the gmane feed starting up - google groups is pretty much the worst option of all (although perhaps the easiest to start with).

Any decent mailer will enable you to filter the mail directly into a separate folder and even killfile any posters who you don't like - if the mods don't do a good enough job :-)