Watt about the blog spawn?

I notice Anthony Watts has a new page dedicated to his Blog Spawn. This includes myself, HotWhopper, Wotts Up With That, Vvatts Up With That, and Whats Up With That Watts. Anthony comments that

In any successful enterprise, there will always be people that want to tear down that success and of course WUWT is no exception.

I certainly can’t deny that Watts Up With That (WUWT) has been remarkably successful but, in my case, it’s certainly not to tear it down. I simply address some of the things that are said on WUWT and have, on occasion, actually been complimentary. It’s a free world and WUWT is free to say what it wishes and I’m free to write what I wish (within reason).

Anthony goes on to say

They say Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but these imitators just don’t seem to have what it takes to hold an audience, as their view numbers are in the low 100′s per day where WUWT typically has 100,000. Still, I find it amusing that these people devote so much time and effort to stalking/satirizing what goes on at WUWT.

Again, he’s quite correct. His readership is certainly much greater than mine and the 100’s per day is probably about right in my case. There is a quantity versus quality argument that one could make, but I certainly wouldn’t do that. He’s also right to find it amusing that these people devote so much time and effort. I sometimes shake my own head in wonder; as do my family, to be honest.

The only thing he says about this blog is

feels he needs to rebut everything on WUWT by making clever counter-titles with “Watt” in them.

Don’t think it’s everything on WUWT. It was more in the beginning, but I’ve toned it down a little recently (what with having to actually do some real work and slightly running out of things to say). At least Anthony thinks using “Watt” in the title is clever.

The only real issue I have about his new Blog Spawn page is that he outed the person who writes HotWhopper. Anthony does say The information about each is freely available on the Internet. This may be strictly true, but Sou had chosen to write anonymously and there is no obvious/easy way to link the person Anthony claims writes HotWhopper to HotWhopper itself. As far as I’m aware, it wouldn’t have been possible to do so by simply searching the internet, but I could be wrong. I believe that Sou has acknowledged that he has correctly identified who she is and I’m not suggesting he’s done anything fundamentally wrong, just that it seems unnecessary and unfortunate. There’s no obviously positive reason for identifying who writes HotWhopper, so at best it’s neutral and at worst negative.

Anyway, at least I know Anthony must have read some of my blog and maybe his new page will enhance my readership. Having said that, I’m not convinced that that will necessarily be a good thing.

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45 Responses to Watt about the blog spawn?

  1. Rachel says:

    Well done for maintaining your anonymity. I can’t believe Anthony Watts describes his website as a “successful enterprise”! I think he has a slightly inflated ego.

  2. I don’t now how long my anonymity will last. I don’t think it’s that easy to work out who I am, but maybe someone could make a clever guess. Not that keen to be outed, but if it happens, it happens.

    I guess it depends on what you define as successful. If it’s readership, it seems that he’s doing quite well 🙂

  3. Sou says:

    Yes, Wotts, it’s not true in my case. Someone may have told Anthony who I am because it’s not ‘readily available’ on the internet. The only people I’ve told about HW haven’t ever heard of WUWT or Anthony Watts (and probably wouldn’t have believed such a site could exist). Or if they have they wouldn’t pass my name to Anthony Watts in a pink fit. The only other people who would know who I am would be HotCopper management. Seems a bit of a stretch but who knows.

    As for Anthony, he must have really gone to town and scoured the net to find my old photo site. I guess it’s possible he’s spent the last six months or so trying to match up the photo on HotWhopper with Mount Beauty and it wasn’t a dob by someone else. If so, that would say a lot about him. (Something tells me Anthony doesn’t like people correcting all the “wrongs” and “not even wrongs” on WUWT and elsewhere.)

    Anyway, it’s all good. Sadly, the extra publicity has barely made a mark on my website visitors. I’m looking forward to the huge jump in page views but so far the visits from WUWT are a long way short of the tens of thousands Anthony boasts of – not even a dozen from his Blog Spawn page 🙂

    I expect that WUWT lurkers who are interested in climate stuff already knew about our websites and came by other routes. Anyone but hard-core WUWT-ers will probably be amused as they go on a tour of HW, and enlightened as they tour your blog and the others 🙂

  4. Odd that he tries to discredit critics by the amount of traffic they get. It doesn’t matter in the context if someone is right or not.

    The few times someone did that with me it was because they had no interest in listening at all to what I was saying. It was more about trying to distract and not address what I said.

    Of course I don’t know if this is actually what he’s doing (i.e. his motivation), but It’s hard for me to give him the benefit of the doubt. Just because it shouldn’t matter at all.

    Shame I’m not on the page despite the amount of posts I’ve written about his blog and garnering his ire on Twitter. I think it means I need to write more to achieve a mention on that page. 😉

  5. You’re not alone in your disappointment. I feel somewhat overawed to have made the list while others with much better pedigrees than me have been left off 🙂

  6. In my experience networking with people from your blogging niche and creating good content is the best way to get traffic.

    The little traffic boost I got from uknowispeaksense when one of my blog posts was linked there was nice to see. Same goes if one of my videos ends up on climatecrocks.com.

  7. Well in the case of Anthony it seems to be that the more you annoy him for some reason the more likely it is you’ll get his attention. Apparently you succeeded in that.

    For me it just ended in being blocked on Twitter by him when I dismissed his Alexa ranking.

  8. Fox is the most popular TV channel in the US. The Daily Mail is the most popular on-line newspaper. Watts nestles in nicely there, n’est-ce pas? You’d have more cause for concern were he to compliment you.

  9. A very astute comment. I was accused yesterday of simply regurgitating Guardian articles. Although clearly not true, it was hard for me to see that as a particularly stinging insult 🙂

  10. James Westwood says:

    If you’ve commented on WUWT he can get hold of your IP address. I’ve seen him trying to ‘out’ commentors before using the e-mail or IP address the give when commenting. I noticed on Twitter they were trying to get Wotts to ‘debate’ on WUWT shortly after trying to get his real name.

    It really a little creepy how much effort he’s gone into to trying to find information about the blog owners.

  11. dana1981 says:

    Exactly, I often refer to WUWT as the Fox News of climate blogs. It’s a popular source of propaganda for those who want their ‘news’ to match their ideological bias. People love being told what they want to hear. Both Fox and WUWT pretend to care about facts and accuracy, but in reality neither does.

    Wattsy craves respect and validation. The closest thing he can get is high traffic volume, which he in turn exaggerates by claiming he’s got the most viewed climate blog and ‘best science’ blog, neither of which is even remotely true.

  12. dana1981 says:

    If you’re going to regurgitate articles (which you obviously don’t do), the Guardian would be a good choice!

  13. Sou says:

    My IP address(es) would tell him nothing at all about me. So that’s not it. I made some enemies on another website by calling them out for sexism. The forum managers knew my name. It might not have been them but they are of similar bent to Anthony so it’s quite possible they’d hold a grudge that long (even though it was I who was aggrieved, not they.)

  14. BBD says:

    When you cannot play the ball, play the blogger. They are desperately short of options.

  15. I haven’t commented on WUWT, fortunately, but I don’t think he could tell much from my IP address if I did (although maybe he could identify my university if I commented from there). I agree, that it’s all a little creepy. I find it odd (although maybe not surprising) that there is no attempt to hold some kind of moral high ground.

  16. Skeptikal says:

    which he in turn exaggerates by claiming he’s got the most viewed climate blog and ‘best science’ blog, neither of which is even remotely true.

    Since you obviously care so much about facts and accuracy, maybe you’d like to tell us who actually has ‘the most viewed climate blog’.

  17. bg says:

    Horse shit is a good fertilizer to grow things.

    Interesting that if he uses the word spawn, that is what is used to describe mushroom spores. And his site is exactly what they do to grow mushrooms, feed ’em horse shit and keep them in the dark.

  18. BBD says:

    So, do blog views change the laws of physics? There’s a PhD in that, if not a Nobel!

  19. BBD says:

    I find it odd (although maybe not surprising) that there is no attempt to hold some kind of moral high ground.

    This is purely a personal perspective, but I find it neither odd nor surprising. Holding the moral high ground while engaging in sustained mendacity and misrepresentation is something only the chosen few can manage. And AW et al. are not that good.

  20. Perhaps a more important metric than the most viewed anti-science blog is the most cited papers in the most respected journals.

  21. The irony here is that while Anthony Watts is big on calling others “Trolls”
    when one stands back and looks at it – Anthony Watts’ non-stop attacks on serious science and learning have all the characteristics of a genuine super Troll who couldn’t care less about the actual substance of what he’s flailing away at.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Allow me a couple paragraphs from my reply to Anthony
    “Mr. Anthony Watts, What’s up with You?”
    ~ ~ ~

    “… The reason I started these blogs was that I was sick and tired of seeing the climate science denial industry’s {of which Anthony Watts is a major spokesperson} strangle hold on Google searches and there simply needed to be more exposure of the valid information folks like Anthony have made a career out of avoiding, misrepresenting, denying and out-yelling.

    Mine is a modest effort, but someone(s) have to step up to confront the strategic assault on pragmatic rational learning in order to understand what our society’s Grand Geophysical Experiment is doing to our planet and our collective future. …”

  22. BBD says:

    Perhaps a more important metric than the most viewed anti-science blog is the most cited papers in the most respected journals.

    My God! I think you might be on to something there!

  23. Hmmm, would it be fair to label Watts a “Science Troll” ?

    In case anyone is interested… sharing some thoughts over here
    ~ ~ ~

    PS. John Samuel, excellent observation, I hope you don’t me sharing it – though I only listed your initials : – )

  24. @Sou: You’d be amazed what you sometimes can tell via an IP address. I used it once to confirm a commenter was indeed who he said he was. Not 100% of course, but it gave me enough information to be reasonably sure.

  25. Rachel says:

    That’s very creepy and maybe even unethical. If someone uses your IP address, which is essentially not known to the rest of the world, and then discloses information about you on their very public blog, then surely this is an invasion of privacy.

  26. @Rachel: An IP address is public knowledge, your computer sends it with every single thing you do on the internet (without it the internet wouldn’t work). So having that data and sharing it in itself wouldn’t be a breach of privacy laws.

    However, when you tie it to a person and then publicly talk about data gathered from that IP address it can be a breach of privacy laws.

  27. Rachel says:

    Collin, but as far as I’m aware, you do not know what my ip address is unless I comment on your blog. Let’s say I do and you then disclose my ip address on your blog for everyone else to see, I would consider this an invasion of privacy. My IP address wouldn’t tell you anything about me because it’s just the shared BT-wifi, but for other people, it may give away their place of work and this is surely unethical to do if the person wishes not to have this information in the public domain.

  28. That’s why I said this:

    However, when you tie it to a person and then publicly talk about data gathered from that IP address it can be a breach of privacy laws.

    IP addresses aren’t really sensitive information. If I for example shared it wouldn’t help you identify who it was. But that’s also dependent on how you share it (tie it to a user for example), if it’s a static or dynamic IP address, where it’s pointing, or if it’s a proxy IP address. And any further information that’s attached to this IP address. That’s what determines if it would be a breach of privacy.

    And yes you can get someone’s IP address without them commenting on my blog. As an IP address is part of everything you do on the internet (it’s basically the return address for the information you’re requesting). If I set myself up somewhere in the communication chain I’ll have it. But that would be sniffing and would be illegal in this case.

  29. Maybe one could produce a new metric : the number of readers on your own blog, divided by the sum of all the readers on the blogs that devote a significant amount of time to pointing out what you’re getting wrong 🙂

  30. Oh, and I already have your IP address. You visited my blog and with you saying you’re using BT allowed me to find it. I already had 3 potential candidates just from the traffic logs on my blog, with one likely candidate. Your provider narrowed it down to that one likely candidate.

    It’s that easy to get an IP address for a user (if you doubt me I can send you the details).

  31. I don’t mind at all.

    I guess this makes Wotts the spawn of the devil. Now there’s an irony.

  32. Rachel says:

    No, Collin, no need to prove it to me. I know that it’s easy to find ip addresses if you’re the website administrator (my background is IT too), but for all the readers on a blog, like the 100,000 or so on WUWT, they do not have access to this information. I think I visited your blog yesterday but I was using my phone which connects via Three. So I doubt I’m one of the BT users. It’s one thing to observe your own weblogs and another altogether to publicise this information.

  33. I hadn’t considered that 🙂 In all honesty, I do sometimes regret my choice of blog handle given that it links me directly to WUWT, and that’s not an association I feel particular happy about.

  34. Yep, that’s why if he did that tied to a user it could very well be a breach of privacy. At the least it’s dubious behaviour that I frown upon.

  35. Sou says:

    Colin, I know you can get a fair amount of info from an IP address and associated browsing stuff, but you can’t get my name unless you know someone who works for certain employers (eg ISP or security agency or internet watchdog of some kind.) In my case, half the time you wouldn’t even know where I was outside of a very broad geographic region.

    I publish my home town on Twitter, so that bit was easy. Even if I hadn’t, I’d mentioned my general location on WUWT in one of my first posts there months ago – way before HotWhopper. And often referred to it directly or indirectly in tweets. I know Anthony hoards little facts like that when he finds someone he regards as worth going up against:)

    Anthony would have had to spend weeks trawling the internet to put two and two together and then make enquiries to double check because even the two or three loose bits of info buried in odd places would probably not be enough to be certain. I’d have thought that level of obsessive behaviour would be beyond any sane healthy respectable person- though Anthony has behaved in a very creepy fashion with others, so maybe he has been working on this for months. Who knows? He’s an odd character to say the least.

    The simpler explanation is that someone who knew my name – and that could be only one or at most two (related) sources – dobbed me into him as some sort of warped payback for my taking them to task over their wrongdoing. That’s nasty rather than creepy.

    It doesn’t matter one way or another. I would have said who I was sooner or later. Still Sou has a very long history now, first with climate and now with HotWhopper so she’ll keep going. Behaving like a creep gives a visceral thrill to someone with Anthony’s proclivities but matters not a jot to me. I had him pretty well pegged from the first time I went to his blog.

  36. wottsupwiththatblog,
    I know you don’t, and it shows in the cool level headed way that you write your posts.

    That’s why I respect you so much and why your blog was at the top when I listed the ‘spawn blogs’ at my site. Furthermore, I would be greatly disappointed were you to climb into the gutter-fight with thugs like Watts, et al.

    But me, I’m a 58 year old lay-person, and I’ve actually have been watching this successful strategic denialist attack on science far too long (while watching the science since the early 70s). And I’ve been deeply offended by the nonstop disingenuous, hell down right fabricated, attacks on every serious climate researcher that receives any attention for their work and findings. I’ve been disappointed in the scientific community’s inept ways of confronting the strategic Republican denialist crap and in fact in how ineptly they have presented this growing crisis we are facing to the public.

    So rather than a blog with nice little musings about my short adventure on this planet – I feel compelled to get into the trenches and do something. Deep down hoping I might inspire someone here and there, someone with greater abilities and knowledge to roll up their sleeves and get proactively involved.

    PS. please keep up the quality work 🙂

  37. Thanks, just trying to do my best. In fairness I’ve been somewhat in awe of those, like yourself, who’ve been writing about this for a lot longer than me and completely understand why some choose to be more direct than I am choosing to be. It too plays a role and sometimes I think I’m giving too much credit to those I’m criticising. It’s treading a fine line and trying to stay on the right side of the line is quite a difficult balancing act.

  38. > I’m not suggesting he’s done anything fundamentally wrong.

    I could, but I think creepy might be enough:


  39. Indeed, even if not fundamentally wrong, being creepy is still not a particularly positive trait.

  40. Rachel says:

    OMG that article was excellent! And well worth reading to find out exactly whose bum that was.

  41. Bob says:

    The phrase

    In any successful enterprise, there will always be people that want to tear down that success and of course WUWT is no exception

    is pretty funny once you realise that the ‘successful enterprise’ in this case is mainstream climate science (in particular anything done by Michael Mann).

  42. @Sou Oh no, I didn’t mean that they would be able to get your name. Just that there is a lot of information you can get from gathering data about an IP address and behaviour on a site you own.

  43. reasonablemadness says:


    Of course your IP address is a private information. That your browser tells it to the web-server when you visit it, doesn’t change that. You also tell Amazon your address and billing information, every time you buy something there (or otherwise you couldn’t pay it and Amazon would not know where to send it to). And I hope you wouldn’t claim that your billing information is public knowledge and not a private information. So just because your browser tells the webserver your IP address (which he must do analogous to the Amazon example to enable the server to send the requested page back to you), it doesn’t mean it is public knowledge.

  44. No, an IP address is public information by it’s very definition and usage in the TCP/IP protocol that is the basis for internet traffic.

    An IP address is basically the same as an physical address in the real world. Everyone has access to it and can use that information to send for example mail. But if you attach a name to that address and publicly share that, then you’re violating privacy laws.

    This works in a similar way for IP addresses.

    Now this is of course more complicated than this simple analogy but I work as a software engineer so it’s not like I’m clueless on this topic.

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