I started this blog mainly as my personal research notebook. I like to post about ideas I’m working on, things I’m struggling with, notes from talks I attend, and so on. Blogging them (rather than keeping them personal) helps to make sure I do write them down (semi-)coherently. Of course, blogging about my research brings another important benefit – critical discussion and feedback.
I run the discussion threads in much the same way as I would run a graduate seminar course. I encourage people to speak up, and join in. But there’s a big entry price. In grad school, to get in, you have to demonstrate aptitude for advanced research. For my blog, you have to demonstrate an ability to think critically, explore the evidence, and be constructive. If you just repeat stuff you’ve read elsewhere on the internet, without demonstrating any ability to think critically about it, I will probably delete your comment. On the other hand, if you add something thoughtful and constructive to the discussion, no matter what viewpoint you adopt, I’ll welcome your contribution, and I will try and respond to it if I have time.
Above all, I strive the make the comment threads as interesting and readable as possible; that means I will often edit them (sometimes savagely) to increase the signal to noise ratio.
And I don’t feed trolls. I don’t want them to get any bigger.
Sorry – not really related to software and still mulling over some parts of this, but I set out on a similar track a while back from the start point of – what can I work out about climate change using only A level (high school level) maths and physics (e.g. radiation balance), plus things that could be checked in a lab, (effect of CO2 etc)? In the UK we have a well known Christmas lecture series given by the Royal Institution which is aimed at children and televised but watched by many adults too. I think this approach could be presented in a simple enough way to be a candidate for that.