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« Sheer heart attack | Main | A tree ring blog »
Wednesday
Jul132011

Feedback to SJB

Sir John Beddington is seeking feedback on the climate impacts report I blogged about yesterday.

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Reader Comments (71)

Bish

I have posted my remarks from yesterday on his website, with a shameless plug for your thread. Hope you don't mind. Maybe he will even drop by himself. 'Uncomfortable reading' as Richard Betts has said.

It will be very interesting to see if my mildly expressed remarks pass moderation. Since they discuss the content and style of the document but not the science, I can see no technical nor procedural reason why not, but I doubt they want to open their blog with some reasonably robust criticism.

Cameron at PMQs was stressing again and again the need for 'transparency' today. We shall see if that applies to his minions!!

Jul 13, 2011 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I've just posted this:

Dear Sir John,
You say the world is warming, but according to data collated by Professor Jones at UEA, it has not done so for some 13 years.

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1990

I fear you may be labouring under a misapprehension.

Yours sincerely,
Neil McEvoy

It is 'awaiting moderation'. We will see.

Jul 13, 2011 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterErik Bloodaxe

I too posted some feedback for 'SJB' - which is in moderation. On the off-chance that the question does not pass moderation, I posted a screen shot here: http://climatologyplagiarism.blogspot.com/2011/07/input-for-beddington-preparing-for.html.

Jul 13, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

In the event that comments do not pass moderation, would their Moderation policy , plus deleted comments be FOIable?

Jul 13, 2011 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

'Sir' John will receive several hundred messages from someone in Truro suggesting that taxes are too low, one or two anonymous comments from Julia Slingo predicting the position of water molecules over the Atlantic to 20 decimal places, and a small number of useful comments from Bishop Hill readers, which will be ignored.

Jul 13, 2011 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

He has my feedback.

"As an aircraft engineer I am amazed at this report. It is not based on science , but pal reviewed computer models and manipulated data.

In the aviation industry , modern aircraft and systems are designed on computers and with computer models. A prime example of this is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The difference is , after design , the 787 was subjected to real world testing , which it failed, leading to a three year delay in its entry in to service.

None of the climate models has succesfully predicted the climate , either past , present or future. The only way they can is by data manipulation.

To restrict our countries wealth and development because of the wishes of vocifereous NGO's, and a group of scientists who have failed to provide any evidence whatsoever of anthropogenic CO2 induced climate change is suicidal, and bad science."

Jul 13, 2011 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Hyde

Well at 18.12 no comments have made it through moderation including mine. So the field is wide open for ZDB - she can have a whole blog to herself!

Jul 13, 2011 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hewitt

Just posted a brief response to the gentleman's post (at 6.58 pm) I am waiting with bated breath. Not.

Jul 13, 2011 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

I somehow doubt that he'll be at all keen to hear the views expressed above!
I bet mine won't make the cut either.

"Just on the off-chance that you may actually, honestly, want to hear views that don't toe the party line.
A report that looks at the potential effects and mitigation strategies for a range of climates, ranging from the 2C increase, to the high likelyhood of a return to temperatures last experienced in the 1850s, ie the "Little Ice Age", as shown by the climate model reported here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/07/13/archibald-climate-forecast-to-2050/
would be highly desirable."

Do I hear the sound of snipping?

Jul 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

Oh, I misread their title, I thought it said the "BS Blog"!

Jul 13, 2011 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

I see no comments on that link!

Jul 13, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

This report has used peer-reviewed evidence to consider the effects of climate change that could occur outside of the UK, but which could give rise to threats and opportunities which need to be considered by UK policy makers”
I would be interested to know how you conclude that the UK WILL be affected by climate change that COULD occur.
Furthermore, in so far as the IPCC has been completely discredited, I wouyld be interested in the peer reviewed sourse of your findings

Posted this at 8.15pm GMT. Thursday 13/7/2011
So far no comments have appeared.

Jul 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Left my comment at 19.15, still 0 comments. As polite as possible in the circumstances suggesting he must have been poorly advised.
Suggested that climate is not the problem but our suicidal dash for wind and solar which has the potential to ruin our already fragile economy for no gain in CO2 output whatsoever is a very serious and urgent problem.
Primum non nocere !

Jul 13, 2011 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterG. Watkins

Posted at 6.58pm - still waiting moderation, 0 other responses visible.

Jul 13, 2011 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Did any of you really ever think that such "drive-by" comments were ever going to be accepted?

Further , I would hazard that very few of the comments by even the other "great and good" are going to be looked at very closely.

This is not the place to choose to fight the battle. Sir John went over to the Dark Side a long long time ago.

Jul 13, 2011 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

SJB, as you are looking for feedback, may I suggest you start with;

http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/7/5/ipcc-on-climate-sensitivity.html

which may have escaped your attention while you were otherwise engaged in publishing.

And no, I have not left that in his comments box as having just checked, it clearly isn't working (0 comments).

Jul 13, 2011 at 8:41 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Regarding Moderation: this is what it says

We encourage lively debate and discussion within the BIS blog.

However, by submitting a comment you agree to abide by the following rules. BIS reserves the right not to publish any comments that contravene any of these rules.

Identification
We will not accept anonymous comments. All comments must include a name and a valid email address.

Conduct and use of language
Comments should be relevant to the blog post. Off-topic, abusive or defamatory comments will not be accepted. Comments should not attack an individual’s personality or character.

Spamming and advertising
No advertising or promotion is allowed except when an event, service or product has direct relevance to the topic of discussion.

Legal liability
You are responsible for your comments. By submitting a comment you undertake to indemnify BIS against any liability arising from breach of confidentiality or copyright, or any obscene, defamatory, seditious, blasphemous or other actionable statement you may make. The views of visitors to this BIS blog are not necessarily endorsed by BIS.

Propriety
As this is a Government website and comments used for party political purposes will be removed.

Moderation
Comments on BIS blogs are pre-moderated: that means they are approved by us before they are publicly viewable.

We will endeavour to publish comments that meet the above guidelines as soon as possible. However, there maybe some delay in publishing comments made over the weekend or public holidays.

Jul 13, 2011 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

In February, Beddington authored a blog post in Newscientist about 'consensus' and scepticism. Amazingly, many robustly sceptical comments got published.

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/thesword/2011/02/science-scepticism-and-consens.html#comment-7962915

Jul 13, 2011 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

I fear the swine would "moderate" my carefully callibrated input

Jul 13, 2011 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterursulatb

If the Bish will allow, It think it's an excellent idea to repost all responses to Sir John's feeback request here - so the record will persist, even if they all disappear into a moderation black hole.

I just posted this:-


Dear Sir John

Page 18 of your report includes the following statement:-

A word of caution
This Report conveys the threats and opportunities to the UK from particular outcomes related to climate change, but does not attempt to assess the likelihood of such events.

In the body of the report, however, can be found the following statements:-

We already live in warming world, and this trend will continue over the next 30 years.

Effects of global warming that are already apparent are declining sea ice extent.............. changes to weather patterns, including indications of more frequent and more intense..............extreme weather events, and changes to precipitation.

Human activity is changing our climate

The extent of climate change in the future will depend upon the achievement of lower stabilisation levels of GHGs

The impacts of climate change will arise not only through large-scale changes and immediately damaging effects, such as severe weather events, but also long periods of moderate variation which may have equally significant impacts, and present greater challenges for adaptation.

There seems to be a serious dichotomy here.

These bald statements are presented as established fact, without any qualifying language - in direct contravention of the cautionary clause above.

They will now doubtless be endlessly repeated by media, political, activist and environmental business agencies who have a vested interest in promoting the AGW hypothesis.

In plain language, your report is saying:-

Here are a number of serious threats to humanity and a detailed analysis of their probable devastating consequences.

Please feel free to make use of this information to advance any agenda you wish to promote - but bear in mind none of it may ever happen.

All in all - a completely dishonest waste of time and public money.

Jul 13, 2011 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Maybe they are embarrassed by comments only being submitted by regular readers of our Grace, the Bishop.
Sadly, few others understand or care about the stupidity of our 'leaders' and the MSM concentrates on the Westminster Village and themselves.
No doubt, we will all check how many negative comments are accepted. Hopefully, everyone who is a regular here will comment and ,perhaps, Andrew can coordinate some figures.

Jul 13, 2011 at 10:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

For those who were following the previous thread on this report, I have posted a final comment there trying to address comments I wasn't able to last night. Hope it helps!

For those who have posted comments this evening (UK time) and noted they've not shown up yet, I suggest checking back tomorrow. It may be that the person doing the moderating only works normal office hours.

Jul 13, 2011 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

Richard

Please don't feel you have to take all criticism of the CAGW industry on your shoulders. You have done a great deal to open doors between 2 entrenched communities, but it is not all down to you. If discussions can become more friendly and fruitful - involving 2-way criticism, then that would be a fine thing. However, that might mean you have to find another job, because we know how intransigent the CAGW tribe are.

Jul 13, 2011 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

My question is a little more technical. Given that the Stern Review of 2006 received worldwide acclamation for its novel conclusions, I would have thought Sir John Beddington would have utilised this work. Apart from a footnote or two, the only reference is in a box on page 63.
Dear Sir John,
I am a humble beancounter, who spends his time in analysing complex project costs and application forms for capital expenditures. In this vein, on page 63 of your report you claim that the Stern Review had a social discount rate of 1.4%, whilst
- The Economist (http://www.economist.com/node/14994731?story_id=14994731),
- Prof William Nordhaus (http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/stern_050307.pdf)
- and Tol & Yohe (WORLD ECONOMICS • Vol. 7 • No. 4• October–December 2006)
- along with my search through the archived report - especially Part II (http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/stern_review_report.htm)
conclude that the Lord Stern used a discount rate of 0.1%. Have we all misread the report?

Jul 14, 2011 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

@Foxgoose

Bravo!

Just count up the wasted millions thrown at producing this report and its supporting material in the first place. Have they nothing better to do than study imaginary problems?

Jul 14, 2011 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

@Richard Betts

The paper you cite in the previous Beddington thread about extreme events doesn't seem to back up your assertion about rainfall where you say:

Well of course extreme events happen anyway irrespective of climate change, but there is evidence that the frequency distribution of rainfall events is shifting towards the more intense end.

The paper says:

For the precipitation indices there are fewer clear signs of change (see Figure 9), although the most recent time period is significantly different from the 1901–1950 period for every index. In general statistical tests show changes in the precipitation indices that are consistent with a wetter climate. However, these results are difficult to quantify and their significance may be affected by the very non-Gaussian nature of the precipitation indices.

May I suggest that you procure for Sir John a copy of 'The Weather of Britain' by Robin Stirling ISBN 1-900357-06-2. Whenever an 'extreme' event occurs in Britain he should refer to the book. It is highly likely that something worse is described in this absorbing compendium. If not, he may claim that the event actually is extreme (for Britain).

Jul 14, 2011 at 1:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

I now have a response in moderation as well:

Hilary Ostrov says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

July 14, 2011 at 2:19 am

Sir John,

Your introduction above states:

"This report has used peer-reviewed evidence to consider the effects of climate change that could occur outside of the UK, but which could give rise to threats and opportunities which need to be considered by UK policy makers. The message is clear – the UK will be vulnerable to adverse impacts from climate change abroad and more attention needs to be given to how climate change effects in other countries may have impacts here.

It is likely that these impacts from abroad will have implications across wide ranges of government policy [...]"

It is not entirely clear to me how two "coulds", one "may" and one "likely" can yield such certain "will". But that aside ...

On the matter of "peer-reviewed evidence", as I'm sure you are aware, Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet has observed (p. 131, "Independent Climate Change E-mail Review" aka the Muir Russell Report):

"Everyone – scientists, the public, policymakers, politicians – would like to believe that peer review is a firewall between truth and error (or dishonesty) (15). But as the editor of one leading specialist medical journal has rightly pointed out, ―There is no question that, when it comes to peer review, the reviewers themselves are the weakest (or strongest) links”.

In the same report, Horton also observed (p. 132):

“Unfortunately, there is evidence of a lack of evidence for peer review‘s efficacy”

[Source: http://www.cce-review.org/pdf/FINAL%20REPORT.pdf]

Further, as I'm sure you are also aware, much of the "evidence" pertaining to climate change is - in fact - not evidence as the word is commonly understood to mean, but rather the output from computer models. And, as you had noted during your presentation at SDUK09:

"There is enormous uncertainty in the climate change models about that particular target [of 2 degrees centigrade]. [...] the only information we have is really enormously uncertain in terms of the climate change model.

[...]

"These are major uncertainties and we know that the climate change analysis that we have does not enable us to answer these.[...]

[Source: http://www.govnet.co.uk/news/govnet/professor-sir-john-beddingtons-speech-at-sduk-09]

Consider also that much of the "peer-reviewed evidence" on which this Foresight report depends is not from primary sources: 66 of the citations are to material in IPCC reports. In light of the InterAcademy Council's recent review (August 2010) of the IPCC, one wonders if it was wise to depend to such an extent on IPCC products.

In your foreword to this Foresight report you note:

"This Report aims to encourage UK policymakers to consider the international impacts of climate change alongside domestic impacts. It is timed to feed into the UK’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment".

It seems to me that perhaps this risk assessment should have been conducted some time prior to the implementation of policies on which the U.K. government has already embarked. Equally importantly, in the light of all the 'enormous uncertainties' inherent in the available evidence which you, yourself, have noted - and on which this Foresight report appears to depend - I trust you will forgive my skepticism regarding the usefulness of this Foresight report to the forthcoming risk assessment.

Jul 14, 2011 at 3:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Dr Betts,
I admire your honest and straightforward approach.

If you have not already so, I strongly urge that you set aside a considerable amount of your time to meet and discuss the evidence suppporting and refuting the concept of human caused global warming and related issues, with Dr Judith Curry and also, seperately with Dr Bob Carter of Cooktown University in Australia.

Until you hold such converations and listen closely to what they will tell you, you are not at all equipt to understand the current dispute concerning these matters.

Jul 14, 2011 at 5:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

the wost thing about this is under the link to the gentlemans name

'The GCSA has also been responsible for increasing the scientific capacity across Whitehall by encouraging all major departments of state to recruit a Chief Scientific Adviser.'

If thats the quality of 'science' we can expect then its obviously 'more jobs for the boys'

Jul 14, 2011 at 7:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

As this post is about risks from climate change, the following is of interest. Quoted in http://latestnews.virginmedia.com/news/uk/2011/07/14/rising_flood_risk_being_ignored

The Committee on Climate Change report on how prepared the UK is for global warming said the country was close to the limit in coping in areas such as water supplies and flooding - and climate change could push it over the edge.

The UK could be increasingly vulnerable to expected climate impacts including more floods, heatwaves and droughts, because the risks are not being taken fully into account in decisions on areas such as planning and water supplies, it said.


Does anyone know where the risks that "are not being fully taken into account" have been quantified, what the risks are and what are the uncertainties in the risks?

Jul 14, 2011 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Foolish me! Like an eager schoolboy, I raced to the PC as soon as I could, logged into the Bishop's blog then hit the link to Beddington's plea for responses. Gosh, 0 responses! And mine still in moderation, more than 13 hours since I posted it.
Oh well, my chance to hob-nob with one of the good and the great has, I fear, slipped away from me.
The thought has occurred that perhaps he or his minions are employing the 'black hole' technology displayed on WUWT recently. Nah - he doesn't 'do' physics.

Jul 14, 2011 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Foolish me too! I went to see the Defra Climate Change Risk Assessment at http://ccra.defra.gov.uk/bgos/archives.asp
I then registered for the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment and looked at the Energy Sector where there was the result of a workshop. http://ccra.defra.gov.uk/rp/D03/Energy_CCRA_Sector_Workshop_Record_02Aug.pdf
Looking at page 33 of the workshop I find that:

Tier 1 Identify impacts
Preliminary qualitative assessment
Tier 2 Semi-quantitative risk analysis (risk metrics, etc.)
Systematic mapping (indirect and cross-sectoral risks)
Policy risk assessment (gap analysis)
Tier 3 Quantitative risk analysis (where possible and if required)

How silly of me to think that the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment might actually start off by doing a risk assessment! Oh no, they will only do a risk assessment where it is possible and required.

Jul 14, 2011 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Perhaps we should cut Sir John some slack. I don't suppose he's used to dealing with the Great Unwashed.

Jul 14, 2011 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Jul 13, 2011 at 11:34 PM | Richard Betts

For those who were following the previous thread on this report, I have posted a final comment there trying to address comments I wasn't able to last night. Hope it helps!

OK, I have looked at your "final comment" on the previous thread, and here is the bit in which I am interested.

Brownedoff, you ask why I don't say "everyone must be open and honest" not "everyone should" be open and honest. Well I think that's a bit of a nuance, but I try not tell to people what they must do - however it doesn't stop me having an opinion on what they should do. To answer the specific question, I think all speeches on climate change, whether by ministers or anybody else, should use language which appropriately reflects the level of certainty or uncertainty - hence "may", "could" etc instead of "will" etc.

From 33 dictionaries we find that the consensus meaning of "nuance" is a "a subtle difference in or shade of meaning".

see http://www.onelook.com/?loc=lemma&w=nuance

Let us try to apply this definition of "nuance" in other situations:

(a) to a child - you must not steal, or you should not steal - phew, this is tough one to detect the subtle difference there,

(b) to a climate scientist - you must release your data, or you should release your data - hmm, this is getting difficult,

and now, when billions of £s are being committed based on scientifically uncertainties:

(c) to a Minister - you must be open and honest, or you should be open and honest - oh wait, this is politics.

Jul 14, 2011 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

even "scientific uncertainties"

Jul 14, 2011 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

I didn't realise until now that Beddington was an LSE economics grad.

In my pedestrian, muddled, old engineering brain, I had always imagined that the government's Chief Scientific Adviser would be a scientist - so that he could advise on technical scientific matters related to disease, public health, food safety, things falling out of the sky...... etc etc.

AFAIK economics is a branch of social science - involved in the study of human behaviour rather than the physical world and therefore involving considerable subjective opinion.

Since politics is mainly about organising human behaviour and governments have social scientists and economists coming out of their ears - why on earth would they appoint another one to advise on "hard" science?

If you were an Oxbridge PPE politico without as much as a physics "O level" to your name - who would you choose to advise you on matters of science - another frigging economist????????

Madness.

Jul 14, 2011 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Quote, Sir John Beddington, "I would keen to hear your views – you can comment on the report here on the blog, and you can follow me, UKsciencechief and Foresightgovuk on Twitter as well."

It looks like comments have not passed moderation. Perhaps the BIS Blog are employing CIF moderators.

It doesn't exactly give any faith in the feedback process when comments on public documents are in effect being censored by the government.

It would appear the so-called consenus over climate change suffers from selective deafness when dealing with legitimate criticism.

So much for David cameron's much vaunted claims over his Big Society being open and responsive to the public.

Jul 14, 2011 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

"the so-called consensus over climate change suffers from selective deafness"

It wouldn't be a consensus if it didn't.

Jul 14, 2011 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Mac: Give the civil servants a break. They will just about be warming up the computers by now. Soon the first post will have been moderated and will be visible. I'm an optimist.

Jul 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Sir John says, “I would keen to hear your views”

My dictionary says that ‘keen’ used as a verb means to “express grief verbally” - do you think that’s what he meant?

It could have been a typo, I suppose, but I like the thought of the unintentional truth appearing deus ex machina.

Jul 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Phillip - I was thinking along those lines. 'Normal office hours' are probably around 10-4, with a generous lunch break.

Jul 14, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Quote, Richard Betts, "For those who have posted comments this evening (UK time) and noted they've not shown up yet, I suggest checking back tomorrow. It may be that the person doing the moderating only works normal office hours."

It would be highly embarrassing for all concerned if the person(s) doing the moderating didn't post up comments.

It's 10.27am - still nothing.

Should we do a betting sweep on when the first comment appears?

Starting at 11.00am, and every half-hour and hour after that. It would be a test of our predictive power.

Perhaps a personal Josh cartoon could be the prize on offer.

Jul 14, 2011 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

After lunch is my guess. They'll be feeling better then.

Jul 14, 2011 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Although 'never' is also a possibility.. :-)

Jul 14, 2011 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I think having multiple attempts at predicting the future is perfectly acceptable, after all this is what climate people are actively doing all the time.

So far

James P: From 2pm onwards, and never.

Jul 14, 2011 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Thanks, Mac. Tricky things, probabilities...

Jul 14, 2011 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

@Mac

My bet is just after 4.00pm. By then they might actually have a comment that supports the report. So they will show that one. Then they will choose the least critical of the ones sent in from here and show that one. In the interests of balance of course.

Jul 14, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterLC

Actually, I've changed my mind. They won't show any of our posts. They will be deemed to be part of an organised and vicious campaign of attack on the democratic process of government and deleted.

Jul 14, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterLC

BIS Moderation

Moderation

Comments on BIS blogs are pre-moderated: that means they are approved by us before they are publicly viewable.

We will endeavour to publish comments that meet the above guidelines as soon as possible. However, there maybe some delay in publishing comments made over the weekend or public holidays.

Jul 14, 2011 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

From the man in charge of BIS Digital Team (yes it appears there is more than one person involved).

Brom Neil Williams, Head of Digital Communications, BIS.

http://neilojwilliams.net/missioncreep/2011/the-bis-blog-why-were-we-waiting/

Quote, "So why has it taken me* until now to launch a blog for BIS?

Well, various reasons.

1.You can lead a horse to water

But you can’t make it blog. Finding a minister who wants a blog is easy. Securing time in his or her diary to write, dictate or even approve posts less so. Getting them to commit to regular posts and engage in the comments is practically impossible. And if you do find one, you’ve then got to convince his or her private office to help too. After Miliband left ODPM/CLG, we flogged at least one such thirsty horse pointlessly to death and I’ve no intention of doing that again.

2.Corporate blogs can be deadly

It’s hard to be interesting and manage reputation at the same time. Clearance can squeeze all that is good about a blog post dry. Arguably Ministers are the people least able to say something fresh, because anything in their name can and will be construed as policy no matter what disclaimers you wrap around it. That’s not to say it can’t work – just that the constraints make something already difficult, harder. Small wonder our focus has been on enabling specialist, topical conversations instead.

3.These things take time
Truly, it is a massive timesink. Once that machine starts churning you’ve got to keep feeding it and feeding it with choice cuts of prime blog meat. People have quite reasonable doubts whether doing so will get the best return for their scarce time. If the audience is small, was all that effort worth it? If the audience is big, who is going to read and respond to all those comments? Not me, says everyone in unison.

4.It still feels – actually is – a bit risky

You’d be amazed at just how much buy-in there isn’t to opening up discussions on all but the nichest of niche topics on a government department’s own website. The spectre of the diary story or front page PR own-goal is ever present, and very real; the frustration for authors of unanswered comments even presenter and realer.

5.It, and I, feel a bit older (possibly wiser)

I don’t subscribe to any of that blogging is dead nonsense but it’s certainly true that the game has changed. Comments on posts (that once great measure of success and motivational aid to the blogger) are on the wane thanks to Twitter and Facebook, and the idea of trying to attract an audience to your site to engage with you feels archaic rather than talking to people on the blogs and sites where they already hang out.

Jul 14, 2011 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

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