Life in the Ithilien ranger service

People call them the “Dead Marshes”, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The marshes are in fact incredibly biodiverse and productive. Admittedly that productivity has a lot to do with the slow decomposition of the corpses of men and elves, but they are productive nonetheless. The marsh vegetation also plays an important part in detoxifying the ecosystem. There is a slight problem with the level of mithril contamination in the marshes, but there are several marsh plants that sequester this trace element.

 Illithien ranger2

The marshes are also important sinks for carbon. Climate change is increasingly a concern in Middle Earth, what with the dramatic rise in dragon-related emissions and the felling and burning of Fangorn Forest, not to mention the carbon dioxide plume from Mount Doom.

Read More

Comments, Trolls, and Moderation

It was an early winter’s morning in 2009. The participants of Science Online 2009 were slowly, wearily emerging from the haze of the night before — the reputation that marine science bloggers had livers of steel was not yet a stone-carved edict. We sat down for a session, I don’t remember which, that was ostensibly about managing commenters. This was they heyday of Web 2.0, the nascent social media ecosystem was in its early successional stages — no longer larval, but still bursting with untapped potential. Blogs were still king. There were earnest debates about whether Twitter or FriendFeed was a better platform.

Someone stood up, I don’t remember who, but they were certainly qualified, and made the startling (thought paraphrased) statement: “If you moderate comments, your legally liable for anything said in those comments. You’re only protected if you let all comments through.” This is not true, but it was certainly the mentality of the 2000’s, where comment threads were fast and loose. Newspapers took this advice to heart to such a degree that even the spam was left exposed to the world. Even today, articles on your local news site may boast more comments about how much money Freddy Fakename makes working from home than actual responses to the article.

Read More