This being, then, the promised brief update to the situation reported on in Spam and Censorship the other day.
To recap, Christian Shorey – a geologist from the Colorado School of Mines, who appears to indeed be a Christian but not a young-Earth creationist like the powers that be on the Science Essentials site – has been posting comments pointing out some of the places where the site’s author, Rhonda Forlow, has got it wrong. He was being quite polite and reasonable, but nevertheless one of his postings went missing. Where we left off last time he had just complained about this fact, suspecting censorship.
And then there’s the spam. The comment sections of the Science Essentials site are riddled with unsubtle spam. Indeed, what it surprisingly lacks is genuinely subtle spam, where the spammers make up a name rather than call themselves “download music to my phone.” I documented an example of Dr Forlow responding to one such spam comment as if it’s flattering comments were the real thing, and it wasn’t the only one of its kind either…
To his first complaint – “Um, why was my comment taken down? I thought we were seeking truth [in] an open community here?” – Lawrence Ford, editor of the ICR’s Acts & Facts magazine, has responded like so:
Christian, please read the commenting policy of this blog.
“Science Essentials is a place primarily designed for Christian teachers who teach on the K-12 level, both in Christian schools and in Homeschool. Our goal is to focus attention on getting you resources that will help you in this important task you have. Those who are not Christian teachers are welcome to join in the conversation, understanding that the Science Essentials blog is not a place for debate. (Comments intended to harass and disrupt the conversation will be deleted so that the rest of us can focus on constructive conversation that encourages the teaching of creation-based science.) Science Essentials will present materials from the young earth perspective of Genesis, the Bible, and science. Your sincere feedback and conversation is always welcome.”
That still doesn’t explain why the comment was removed. In no way can it be claimed that the removed comment, which you can see in my previous post, “intended to harass and disrupt the conversation,” and it sounded more like “sincere feedback and conversation” to me than an attempt to “debate,” something that they seem to be quite afraid of. If you’re wondering, the link that Ford’s name links to is merely “www.icr.org”.
Next, we have Dr Forlow responding to Shorey’s second comment of complaint:
Dr. Shorey, Science Essentials is a place primarily designed for Christian teachers who teach on the K-12 level, both in Christian schools and in Homeschool. Our goal is to focus attention on getting resources that will help the teacher in this important task . Those who are not Christian teachers are welcome to join in the conversation, understanding that the Science Essentials blog is not a place for debate. (Comments intended to harass and disrupt the conversation will be deleted so that the rest of us can focus on constructive conversation that encourages the teaching of creation-based science.) Science Essentials will present materials from the young earth perspective of Genesis, the Bible, and science. You may view the commenting policy on the front page of the blog. Sincerely, Dr. Forlow
As you can see, that’s remarkably similar to what Ford copied and attributed to the page. Forlow, however, signs it “Sincerely, Dr Forlow.” Note also that she leaves out the final sentence – “Your sincere feedback and conversation is always welcome.” What that it is unsurprising that we have never heard from Dr Shorey since, at least as far as I am aware.
Next, the spam:
Following on from my post the PseudoAstronomer, Dr Stuart Robbins, commented on the subject of those spam comments under a pseudonym:
Um, Dr. Forlow, do you realize that the last several comments here are spam? And you’ve responded to them as if they were real people and not bots posting spam to your site? It does not speak well for the quality of your postings …
He has a bit of a point here. This is a Google Reader screenshot (from some days ago, if you’re wondering about the time thing) because by the time I got to it the comment had been taken down. So had the three offending comments seen in the previous post that were above this, which is a good sign, at least.
However, the comments above that are just Forlow doing pretty much exactly the same thing, and since then another spam comment has joined them:
Additionally, Stuart reports that he tried to comment again, but was unable to. He reckons that his IP has been blocked from commenting. Considering that it seems not unlikely that the same has happened to Dr Shorey, and I’m debating whether or not to contact him in an attempt to determine if that is the case, and perhaps ask him a few more questions about why he decided to comment in the first place etc. We’ll see if I get around to it.
There does seem to be less commenting on the blog right now (at least, less that makes it into the public view) which includes less spam. On Stuart’s blog post some commentors have suggested that Forlow may be allowing the spam to appear to make it look like more people read her blog and like it, which may explain the lack of spam of the type that complains about poor (in my case, non-existent) SEO. Whatever the reasoning, there does seem to be less of them.
I’ll keep you posted, especially if I do contact Dr Shorey.