Posted by TonyN on 16/03/2008 at 7:12 pm Admin Add comments
Mar 162008

Continuation of the New Statesman blog

Size matters

The most pressing problem at the moment is the success of this thread. With 650+ comments and 100,000 words it is becoming noticeably slow to load. Also the very much-improved preview plug-in that I installed at the weekend can’t cope resulting in infuriating delays when typing comments.

This thread cannot be allowed to grow indefinitely; WordPress simply is not designed for such vast amounts of verbiage. Here are some ideas about this:

1) A contributor has suggested that when there is an overload like this, a new page should be started, which seems very sensible. In this case I would move the most recent 30-50 comments to the new page. Somewhere around 400-500 comments would seem to be the limit if WordPress is to function efficiently This is NOT a plea to write fewer or shorter comments.

2) The total number of comments since the NS published Paul Whitehouse’s article on global cooling in December is heading for the 4000 mark. Although the group is now a far smaller one than it was at the NS (more about this below), it is generating comments at a similar pace and these cover a very wide range of topics. However the totally unstructured nature of the thread means that it is very difficult to find interesting and useful information that was submitted even a few weeks ago. One solution would be to open new threads (within the New Statesman Category - see right hand sidebar on this page) for particular topics. I’m thinking particularly of JZ and Max’s very interesting statistics on per capital CO2 emissions, but there are many others, such as Arctic Sea Ice, the ‘iniquities’ of the IPCC AR4 SPM etc. This would spread the load of comments among a number of threads while retaining the hurly-burly spontaneity of the main unthreaded pages as that exists at present. It would also mean that there are obvious places to post on particular topics and that these can be revisited as new development occur.

3) In response to a request from JZ I have uploaded a searchable archive file with all the pre-Harmless Sky comments here:

Please will someone try downloading this so that I know that it is accessible to all, but beware, the file size is over 3.6 Mb.

4) Any other suggestions will be welcome.

New blood

As I said above, the group is quite a small one and it would seem sensible to think that we encourage new participants. The simplest way of doing this is always to leave a link back to the NS thread when commenting on other blogs. Example:

You might copy this URL to a Notepad or other text file on your desktop and then it will always be handy for a quick copy and paste. If the site you are on has a button for making a hyperlink live, then remember to use this.

Before long I intend to change my domain hosting arrangements and when that happens URLs should become a bit more user friendly.

My webstats – the information that I get about visitors to the blog – suggest that there are a lot of people reading the blog, but not contributing. This seems to be common to most blogs.

The dreaded blog rules

I have said just about all I want to on the subject in this comment on the NS thread:

If you look at the top of this page you will see the title of this blog, and a strap-line that defines the subject matter that it was set up to deal with. My blogname also appears.

I do not want either world politics or comparative religions discussed here, except in the very narrow context where these topics have a direct bearing on climate, the countryside and landscapes. There are plenty of other forums that deal with such things. What happened yesterday was nobody’s fault. A stray remark got blown up into a major issue. It is in the nature of an electronic forum that this should happen; one of the unique advantages of blogging is that ideas are developed by the participation of a group of – more or less – like-minded people.

The blog rules were drafted in a considerable hurry at a time when I had no experience of running a blog and little expectation that anyone would read them. It may be time to have another look at these. But I must make it clear that, although I am very happy to discuss them (and genuinely grateful for spelling corrections), what is said on this thread has an impact on Harmless Sky as a whole, and that is obviously a matter that concerns me. At present we are averaging over 1000 hits a week and the trend is strongly upwards.

I am delighted that the NS threads have successfully transferred to Harmless Sky and astonished to see that, in the four months since this happened, over 650 comments have been submitted, amounting to over 100,000 words; the length of a 250 page paperback.

At this point I think that we need to consider a few administrative matters. Later today I will post a special page with some suggestions and a request for feedback. Please do not respond to what I have said in this comment here, but do so on the special page when it appears.

Perhaps I should add that I am very conscious of the fact that I am the host of the NS thread and not its proprietor.

I do not believe that rules should be automatically and rigidly enforced, but there do have to be one or two lines drawn in the sand if we are to escape the flaming, rancour and mindless abuse that afflicts some other sites that deal with controversial subjects. So far we have been free of it and I want things to stay that way as Harmless Sky continues to grow.

I look forward to hearing what people think about all these things. There probably will not be solutions that will suit everyone, but with luck a consensus (Oh! how can I use that term?) can be found.

The problem with comment overload on the present thread is pretty urgent.

80 Responses to “Admin”

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  1. 51
    tempterrain Says:


    I’m just wondering why the postings on the NS continuation thread seem to be behaving oddly.

    For instance I just answered BOB_FJ’s posting of 5921 (which was originally 5920) and my answer was then given the number 5920 and Bob_FJ’s comment renumbered to 5921 making it appear that I’d posted it before Bob_FJ.

    I noticed the same thing before with a reply to Robin. See my comments in 5908.

  2. 52
    tempterrain Says:

    My last posting was time stamped 8.03 am. This was 6.03 pm Brisbane time. By my calculation that should have been 9.03 am if you guys in the UK have put your clocks forward for the summer.

    Maybe that is why the postings are happening out of order?

  3. 53
    TonyN Says:

    Thanks for the feedback Peter. WordPress provides very little control over date stamps and numbering of comments. If the problem persists then I could revert to GMT: see #49 & #50 above.

  4. 54
    TonyN Says:

  5. 55
    Alex Cull Says:

    Hello Tony, just a quick message to say that a comment of mine on the “Ofcom to investigate government’s ‘dodgy’ climate adverts” thread appears to have vanished into the spam filter. If you can retrieve it, that would be great; if it has disappeared forever, I can always repost it tomorrow.. Cheers,

  6. 56
    TonyN Says:

    James P:

    The email address that you are using for Subscribe to Comments no longer seems to be valid. This means that I get a mail failure notification every time a comment is made on the threads that you have subscribed to. I’ve therefore had to delete your subscriptions. If you want to continue with them it will be necessary to set them up again with an email address that works.

    These things happen.

  7. 57
    James P Says:

    Thanks, Tony. Not quite sure what’s going on there, as I have a pile of comments notifications up to and including today. My email client (Opera) is a bit overzealous identifying spam, though, and sometimes includes you – I’ve no idea if that translates to a mail failure, which I would expect to come from my ISP.

    I’ve had the same email address since 2003…

  8. 58
    James P Says:


    I left a comment (would have been 8580) in the Whitehouse/Lynas discussion, but I assume you remove it. OK if you thought it was OT, but wanted to be sure it wasn’t finger trouble…


  9. 59
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Tony N,
    You wrote an excellent lead article on a recent computer modelling talkfest in Reading (?) that I wanted to cross-post at Chris Colose’s warmist site:
    However, I can’t find it now that it has dropped off the recent comments list. Does it have a category?

  10. 60
    TonyN Says:


    You’ll find two posts, here:


  11. 61
    TonyN Says:


    The number of comments on the New Statesman thread will probably reach the 10,000 mark sometime in the next few days. This presents two problems.

    1) It is by no means certain that the WordPress software and database that powers Harmless Sky can cope with five digit comment numbers; blog threads just don’t normally get that big. If five digits is out of range then that could lead to the database becoming corrupt and locking up. As this aspect of he site has worked faultlessly since I installed it two years ago, I have not the faintest idea how to cope with such a problem should it happen.

    2) Because of the size of the NS thread it is no longer possible to load all comments on any of my machines, rather than individual pages. Attempts to do so produce a fatal server error at just over 9,000 comments. That means that the thread is no longer completely searchable. If anyone else can persuade all comments to load as a single page I would be interested to know.

    For these reasons I will probably close comments on the present NS thread before it reaches the magic number, which seems a pity I know, and open a new NS No2 thread as a continuation. This will, of course, start at number one again.

  12. 62
    manacker Says:


    No problem with starting a new thread.

    This one has been enormously successful, and the discussion has been both lively and educational.

    Many posters cited interesting articles or did quite a bit of research into the subject matter before posting. In the process I learned quite a bit about the science surrounding the AGW debate.

    Let us know when the new thread takes over.


  13. 63
    TonyN Says:

    Thanks Max, it looks as though it will be very soon.

  14. 64
    Robin Guenier Says:


    We seem to have moved to 10,000 without a problem. So are you still moving to a new thread? Either way, congratulations and thanks for keeping this going.

  15. 65
    TonyN Says:

    Thanks Robin. Yes, I’m moving it anyway because of the size problem. In the process I’m afraid that I’ve nicked your place as commenter number 10,000. It seemed to be the perfect number to end on.

    If anyone spots problems please let me know on this thread.

  16. 66
    Robin Guenier Says:


    Well, I’d been carefully pacing my comments so as to make that 10,000 slot. So, to make it and then lose it, was a disappointment. But having the number one position on the new thread is some consolation. In any case, you are far more deserving of the honour of closing the old thread.

  17. 67
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Hi TonyN,
    I tried to post a short comment on the “ASA bans Ads” thread, twice and nothing happened.
    It contained a link back to here, and was originally intended at the Guardian, until I found that thread closed.

    NOT IMPORTANT, I’m just puzzled

  18. 68
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Testing html tag for font size
    How about this?

  19. 69
    TonyN Says:


    If you are likely to scan more text, here’s an idea:

    There’s a free programme that you can download called PDFCreator. This installs on your computer as an additional set of printer drivers, although it doesn’t print in the normal sense.

    When you scan text, you can then ‘print’ it using using PDFCreator which will produce a professional quality pdf file. This has the advantage of the text being clear and searchable.

    It isn’t perfect, no freeware is, but it works well most of the time. The only downside is that you may have to set your scanner to 300dpi and greyscale to get accurate pdf files. This will mean the scanned file is quite large, but of course this can be deleted once the pdf file has been created.

    It works with most web pages too, and I find it very useful.

  20. 70
    Chris Holehouse Says:


    I’m the Environment editor at Before It’s News. Our site is a People Powered news platform with over 1,000,000 visits a month and growing fast.

    We would be honored if we could republish your blog RSS feed in our Environment category. I believe the content on Harmless Sky would be a great fit for our readers.

    Syndicating to Before It’s News is a terrific way spread the word and grow your audience. Many other organizations are using Before It’s News to do just that. We can have your feed up and running in 24 hours. I just need you to reply with your permission to do so. Please include the full name and email of the person who will be attached to the account, and let me know the name you want on the account (most people have their name or their blog name).

    You can also have any text and/or links you wish appended to the end or prepended to the beginning of each of your posts on Before It’s News. Just email me the text and links that you want at the beginning and/or ending of each post. If you know html you can send me that. If not, just send me the text and a link to your site. It should be around 200 characters or less (not including links).

    You can, if you like, create a custom feed for Before It’s News that includes multiple links back to your blog or web site. We only require that RSS feeds include full stories, not partial stories. We don’t censor or edit work.

    All the best,

    Chris Holehouse
    Editor, Before It’s News

  21. 71
    Alexa Beratung Says:

    I just want to say thanks for this interesting thread about Harmless Sky – climate, the countryside and landscapes » Admin! Regards, Alexa Beratung

  22. 72
    TonyN Says:


    I would be very grateful if someone could do the following:

    1) Go to the Harmless Sky home page
    2) Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page
    3) Click on ‘Previous Entries’
    4) Let me know in a comment on this thread if you get an error message

    There seems to be a bit of a glitch with this link.

  23. 73
    tonyb Says:


    Did as you asked-I could see no problems on home page and no problems on further entries. I got no error messages


  24. 74
    Maurizio Morabito Says:

    How do I get to subscribe to the HS blog, rather than to individual posts’ comments?

  25. 75
    TonyN Says:

    Many thanks Tony. I’ve recently upgraded to the latest version of Firefox and it looks as though that may be the problem. I’ve tested it with Explorer now and it worked fine.

  26. 76
    TonyN Says:

    Hi Maurizio

    Many thanks for that very obvious question! I am now in the process of installing ‘Post Notification’. Until now I’ve relied on an RSS link and a comment subscription plugin.

  27. 77
    peter geany Says:

    TonyN I have IE9 on my laptop and I get the error. Looks like the latest browsers have some compatibility issues with your site.

  28. 78
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Hi TonyN,

    Just testing
    I’ve opened a Windows Live- WordPress free blog as a means of conveying MS Word documents etc to other blogs.

    Could you please check this out to see if the embedded document therein opens ok and whatnot? It is a complaint that the ABC CRU failed to handle within the statutory period of 60 days, and I think you will find it interesting. If the ABC ignore or refuse to apologise, as requested, I may try ACMA

    Regards, Bob_FJ

  29. 79
    TonyN Says:

    Bob: See comment that I’ve left on your site.

  30. 80
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Re my new website, and trial post:

    I loaded the word document by pasting it as a separate post initially into Windows Live Writer before uploading to WordPress, and then linked to it on the original post and it seems to work fine.

    The only thing is that the formatting changes, and needs some work, and like I should probably reinsert the images because they shrank and lost quality.

    However, I see that there is a more direct way of doing it, and I’ll try that

    Thanks your advice

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