We’re number 2 :-( and a note on roolz

As I’ve said, you can never predict which posts will get the most views. for sometimes someone links to something from this site on reddit, or another aggregator site, and all of a sudden we get inundated with views.

Sadly, the stuff that attracts the most attention is never anything I write myself. Rather, it’s cute little pictures, or a new paper about the perfidies of Mother Teresa (a record with 303,739 views in one day), or, in the latest case, a post about a church sign, which yesterday attracted 90,000+ views (about 3.9 times the normal traffic), thanks to reddit and reddit atheism.  Again, for one brief, shining moment we assumed the #2 position among all WordPress sites.  We were second to—yes, you guessed it—”Watts Up With That?”, which permanently holds the #1 spot like a limpet on a rock.

This morning’s rankings:

Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 4.00.44 AM

What’s up, by the way, with the Hamilton School in Aberdeen?

We’ve been #2 once before, and again it was something unusual: a gif of a bacterium sitting on a diatom sitting on an amphipod. In that case, “Watts Up With That” was still #1.

I’m not an ambitious boy, and I don’t want riches, but please, O Ceiling Cat, can I beat “Watts Up With That?” just one time? It would be gravy to be in the #1 spot for just a day, but even better to beat out this popular and execrable climate-change-denialism site.


On that note let me add a few items about The Roolz. As traffic on the site has increased, the number of nasty, fractious, and obstreperous commenters has increased, along with the number of religious people trying to leave comments that are absolutely insane. I can’t do much to prevent the latter, most of which I trash, but I want to emphasize again that I want discussion on this site to remain courteous. That means that you are not allowed to insult other commenters or call them names.  If I catch you doing that, I will either warn you on the site or send you a private email asking for a public apology.  About 70% of the time the commenter remains obdurate, often sending me an even nastier email (you wouldn’t believe some of those!).  That gets them banned.  If you do apologize, that’s great, and I hope you mean it. But even so you’ll be put on moderation for a while, with each comment needing approval until your “time out” has expired. (That varies in length depending on subsequent behavior.)

Needless to say, one of the worst sins you can commit is to insult Professor Ceiling Cat. That’s equivalent to urinating on his Ceiling, and I won’t have it.  Be respectful to your host, please, who himself tries to remain courteous while looking after all the kittehs.  Do not call me “Coyne” (“Jerry” or “Professor Ceiling Cat” will do fine, thank you), do not tell me that I am writing too much about one topic or too little about another, and please do not accuse me of being disingenuous, hypocritical, and the like. This is just simple civility, but I’m learning that many people, especially under the cover of pseudonymity, abandon all sense of decorum and propriety on the Internet. Behave here as you would behave having a discussion in someone’s home.  You can be animated, passionate, or critical—but do not be nasty.

Finally, please don’t write me asking me to publicize your book, your own website, or your local event. If you want to call my attention to these things, that’s fine, but nothing makes the Cat’s fur bristle more than an email that says, “Would you mind calling attention to my new Awesome Atheist website, because I could use the traffic?” or “I’m sure you’d like to mention the next meeting of our East Worksop Atheist Club.” Cats are independent, you know, and don’t take well to orders.

I am working on codifying these Roolz and putting them as a document on the sidebar, but I’ll have to consult my tech-savvy friends to do that. In the meantime, be nice.


  1. Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Yeah. RationalWiki regularly finds that when Reddit is melting the server, it’s not because of some well-written article that lots of people spent time on … it’s a a href=”http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/List_of_scientifically_controlled_double_blind_studies_which_have_conclusively_demonstrated_the_efficacy_of_homeopathy”>tumbleweed article!

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      eegh. If you could fix that link, it would be most appreciated 🙂

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Here you go. Seen it here before but it’s worth seeing again:


      • Simon Hayward
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        Holy crap the clock on the website is right – for mountain time for some reason (I’m in central – so is Chicago) but apparently not arbitrary.

  2. Thanks for the stuff
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:04 am | Permalink


    Thanks for all the stuff, some I don’t read, some I do (lack of time!)

    Is a shame u gotta tell peeps to be nice, but that’s the world we live in.

    If any of your vids get put ‘out there’ please link, I sub to tons, and sometimes can’t filter well.

  3. Marcus Neumann
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Well said all over really. Its a difficult topic to discuss at the best of times and I am certainly not perfect but I try myself not to insult.

    I sometimes think that when discussing it some people, and I am being very general here, expect instant epiphanies from the other side. This is probably expected because quite often the things we say are really home runs either way you cut it- but I guess people should not think thats the case in practice. Ive seen so many debates where this is clearly the case yet the other side won’t budge.

    I would imagine the first step is doubt in a believer. But doubt is such a slow, dull sensation, that creeps upon one, and never all at once it seems. In that way I lower my expectations but I am not setting about really to convert individual people when I have discussions about the topic, rather I do defend science.


    Well done on being second. I can attest to the meme-generations ability to spread and crowd around simple pictures but its not exactly brain food. Few memes i have seen over the years have made an impact in my memory, but I can assure you all the things I read about evolution and atheism and the whole scene stick around far longer.

    You made a presentation thats available on youtube i think, im certain its you, and my brain still refers to it a fair bit.

    Guarding against the insult wars is a good reminder, ive noticed a few slipping in; there is nothing that will erode the conversation/environment quicker than pot shots

  4. gheathen
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Lots of roolz! Hope the sidebar thing will have lots of nice bullets to go with them!

    On the Mother Teresa thing, I went looking for the Montréal paper and found it here: http://sir.sagepub.com/content/42/3/319.abstract but can’t spare the $20 to read it:-(

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      I have the paper, and I have permission to distribute it from the authors. It’s in French, with an English abstract, but if you want it and can read French, send me an email.

      • gheathen
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        Thank you! It will test my French but I’ll give it a go.

        I can’t see how to DM you here so I’ll send my email address to you on Twitter (same user name)

        Thanks again.

        • Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          Jerry’s email address is hidden at the top right of the page behind the secret door marked “Research Interests”.


  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    You never know who will show up and stay when you get increased traffic so it’s probably not as bad as it seems.

    I used to think I wasn’t ambitious until an ambitious (and sometimes ruthless — I suspect she tests a little low on the empathy scale….Deckard could give her a voigt-kampff test!) told me I was ambitious because I wanted to succeed and worked hard at doing so & I wasn’t happy staying still. Now I embrace my ambition.

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but probably the ambition you do have just doesn’t line up with what is commonly thought of as ambition.

      I see myself in that boat. I couldn’t care less about working my way up a corporate ladder, keeping up possession-wise with the Joneses, or any nonsense like that. But a day not spent trying to improve my mind or my musical performing ability is, to me, a day wasted.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        Yes, we are probably aligned. I think I thought of ambition as moving up the corporate ladder at all costs and for the sole sake of moving up the corporate ladder. This is similar to the “keeping up with the Joneses phenomenon”.

        For me, I’ll move up it and try things out if I like them. As soon as they stop being interesting, I will look for something else. When I work, I aim to do the best work I can but the work has to be interesting or I’ll just get up to mischief. 🙂 I’m not impressed by titles or possessions (must to the chagrin of companies who can’t make me brand loyal) but I am impressed with intelligence, hard work and good results. This probably makes me susceptible to befriending narcissists and sociopaths (which I’ve done in the past) & that often doesn’t work out in the end. 🙂

        • Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

          I wholeheartedly agree. After my son was born I went down to 4 days a week, even though that was our sole income at the time. Even though responsibility didn’t decrease. In fact, more and more stuff is put on my plate – I think in effort to get me back to 5 days a week. Not only am I responsible for all inventory (high-ish end jewelry store)coming in, going out, on memo, returned items – reports to various vendors etc but I am also responsible for marketing in a variety of mediums as well as promotions. Inventory alone is a full time job in many stores. Now I am writing up appraisals for items we sold. Oh, I also have to take in repairs and my sales aren’t shabby either (I don’t enjoy selling, but people trust me and if we click then a sale happens). And last “OH” is that just because I’m comfortable with technology but by NO means an expert, I am THE go-to person for any manner of technical support – be it a printer or networking or program glitches. This alone can take up a good portion of my week. No one else even tries – it’s just all on me no matter what I have going on. Anyway, I guess this is kind of a vent – overall, my ambition is to spend as much time with my one and only kid as possible. As a family together. I only have this one chance – I got a late start. For the future, I am starting the GIA graduate gemology course and that is my 2nd ambition after my kid. Oh, my 3rd ambition would be to complete Siege of Orgrimmar on my Retribution Paladin. O.o

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

            Once I had the misfortune of sitting next to a printer. People would come by and find their job didn’t print then ask me what to do. Look, I sit by the printer, I don’t have the ability to communicate with it using only my mind. Besides, printers annoy me. I’m a digital person. If I print anything, it either doesn’t work or I lose the print out.

            • Posted January 20, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

              LOL! I feel ya. I especially hate anything to do with peripherals like printers and faxes. I’ve never been able to have a printer at home that lasted more than a month even with mild use so I finally gave up. And faxes….don’t even get me started. I’m always startled when my faxes actually go through successfully. Usually it turns into a “Office Space” parody – PCLOGJAM????

        • Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

          Oh, I’d certainly climb the ladder if I worked in a ladder-climbing context; it just wouldn’t be a motivator in and of itself for me.

          To clarify, I crave respect, as most people do, I’d imagine. I just think there are other, better ways of earning it than having an office on an upper floor, about which, it seems to me, many people care too much.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            The thing that sucks about the corporate ladder is to climb it doesn’t mean you advance because of hard work. It’s a common misconception you learn the hard way. The way you advance is a combination of hard work & promoting yourself. Sadly, just being able to talk a good game gets you moved up…this is why people who want to advance for the sake of advancement do so very easily. They must be miserable though – what is the point if you’re not having fun?

  6. Barry Lyons
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Yes, be nice. That doesn’t seem to me to be too much to ask.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I use my own name, hoping it will keep me nice and less snarky. Others might want to try it. Besides, I like to know who the other commenters are. Some of them I actually recognize from life outside the website-o-sphere.

  7. Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    A post about a church sign saying that Mother Teresa had free will might get a nice spike in cross-traffic. Then with the help of the people here, it might get re-posted in Reddit and Boing Boing and IFLS. That should crush the Watts Up With That site! Crush them! Crush them! (hold up thumb and forefinger in front of eyes and squeezes).

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Lol. Twice.

      (KITH. Nice. (But wasn’t it “I’m crushing your head!”?))

  8. Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I am working on codifying these Roolz and putting them on the sidebar, but I’ll have to consult my tech-savvy friends to do that.

    Hmm, maybe put the rules in a “page” (rather than a “post”) and put a link to it in the sidebar exactly as you did for the “Hili dialogues”?

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      That’s what I meant; on the sidebar. I’ve fixed it.

      • Sergio Graziosi
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

        I can see you’ve mastered the “page” bit for the Cat Confessions Contest, so I’m assuming you’re probably pondering the details about the Roolz page. As a stop-gap, you could put the following link in the sidebar (“text/arbitrary html” widget will do) the link is:
        https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/category/roolz/ and nicely pools together the posts that have been saved with the “Roolz!” category.

        This doesn’t catch old Roolz posts, but they can be found here (along other unrelated posts): https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/?s=roolz
        The quick fix would be to add the tag to old untagged posts, put the first link in the sidebar and let us readers do our homework.

        Do feel free to ask for clarifications in case you’d like to pursue this line but I didn’t manage to explain it properly.
        I do think Roolz are important, would have liked to find them when I first found your bl*g (people may not know they should search for “roolz”, I certainly didn’t).

        PS It’s a matter of time: you will get to #1, I’m sure.

  9. Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    “please do not accuse me of being disingenuous, hypocritical, and the like. This is just simple civility . . . ”

    That doesn’t seem accurate. What if you are on some occasion disingenuous, or hypocritical, or at least appear to be to someone? Are readers forbidden to make that claim? Civility doesn’t mean foregoing all disagreement or criticism.

    You often make such claims about others, in fact you did in this very post. (Anthony Watt’s site is execrable.) There is a big difference between criticizing a particular action, statement, or course of behavior, and gratuitously insulting a person or resorting to ad hominem argument. If you want to encourage civil dialogue, you can’t proclaim yourself immune from all accusations of error. I’m sure that’s not what you meant to say but I hope you will be clear about this.

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Yes, I occasionally call out people IN OTHER PLACES for those sins, but I do not diss commenters here, and neither should you, nor do I let others do that (if I catch it). I wish for people to criticize each other’s arguments here, not each other’s character. And yes, this is my site and those are my rules. I want people here to be comfortable discussing stuff. I don’t care that much if stronger language is directed at those on other sites–particularly creationists.

      By the way, calling a site execrable is not an ad hominem remark; you need to look that up.

      Finally. I suggest that, given your snark here, you need to go to some other site where you can diss the moderator to your heart’s content.

    • stephen
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      I was tempted to be rude to you in Spanish, but I see that Professor Ceiling Cat has already set you straight.The Roolz are one of the reasons why this website is popular-people have conversations here.

      • Alektorophile
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        I agree, The Roolz are what makes this site’s comments as enjoyable to read as the posts. I rarely read other websites’ comments, they invariably descend into name-calling and toddler-like tantrums. On WEIT, on the other hand, reading the comments is usually enjoyable, quite often informative and generally worth my time.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          I learn a lot from the comments as well & my reading list has grown! If I point someone to this site, they often remark how civil everyone is even when disagreeing.

    • Greg Esres
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      “What if you are on some occasion disingenuous, or hypocritical, or at least appear to be to someone? Are readers forbidden to make that claim?”

      Telling someone they are disingenuous or hypocritical is a poor way to move them towards enlightenment. It’s really an act of aggression and will rightly be perceived as such.

      There are more effective ways to impart whatever insight you might have.

      • Cathy Newman
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        I feel like there’s a difference between saying, “I think that idea might be a bit hypocritical,” and saying, “You’re being a hypocrite” — the latter being an attack on character (“diss[ing] the commenter”) but the former commenting on the post/comment’s substance. But that’s only my opinion, and as this is Jerry’s website, I defer to his judgment and roolz. I’ll continue to enjoy the posts, even if I don’t always actively participate.

  10. Richard Olson
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    One of the foremost attributes of this site is its tone of civility.

    • Richard Olson
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      P.S. I agree with what Cervantes says.

      • Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        What, exactly, do you agree with? That you should be able to call the moderator names? Read my explanation above, and if you wish to be able to question the moderator’s character rather than question his arguments, then you really belong on another site.

        • Richard Olson
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          I agree that comments only should be open to criticism, not the character of the person who posts them. Unwarranted snark, as per my comment above, is always uncivil and this is the only thing I intended to convey.

          I hastily responded to Cervantes’s comment, on my way off on an errand, only intending to address this single thing. Inexplicably, I not only failed to notice the portion of them directed toward the host, but unfortunately my reply clearly implies that I support it.

          This is not the case. My apologies for my carelessness.

  11. Achrachno
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    So what can we average readers do to increase traffic and trample What Up? Add more comments (esp. colorful comments that draw responses)? Be sure to read every post? Go to other sites and post links to WEIT articles potentially of interest to readers of those sites? Scour the web for interesting items that can be referenced on WEIT and submit them to mgmt. for consideration?

    • natalielaberlinoise
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Adding more comments seems to me not the right tactic for 2 reasons: 1) It’s so nice when people comment because they have something interesting to say, or sometimes share a joke etc. it would be a shame to lower the overall quality of the mix by adding too many comments for the sake of numbers. 2) People might be using this service a lot (I don’t myself) whereby they can reply to comments via email, thus avoiding clicking on the site. That wouldn’t help with the view count. 3) It’s unimaginable to me how the host goes through all these comments every day without loosing his mind. Maybe best not to add any menial. work. (As I have just done now…)

      Maybe we’ll get a hint at some point, when the CC deems one post to be especially worthy of winning the race. In which case we could always call out for Butter;-)

  12. Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    JAC said: “but please, O Ceiling Cat, can I beat “Watts Up With That?” just one time?”

    I could swear I heard somewhere that you cannot petition Ceiling Cat with prayers….whoever it was was quite adamant about that..

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      I wonder if CC can be persuaded with sacrifice*.

      *sacrifice refers to giving up your tasty noms to CC not killing things.

  13. Erp
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    The Hamilton School, an independent private school including nursery opened in 1975, apparently has some former teachers and other employees who are very unhappy with the owner and have gone public with their stories. Judging by reports from government inspection due to complaints at least some of the stories from the nursery school have a factual base.

    I would say a cat commenting on Mother Teresa and climate change might do it.

  14. Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Have a knowledgeable guest writer do a post about the most common misunderstandings regarding climate change, based on various excerpts from Watts Up With That. However, I suspect even Jerry’s strong wall of moderation would suffer stress cracks from all the nonsense that would show up in the comments.

  15. eveysolara
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    “It would be gravy to be in the #1 spot for just a day, but even better to beat out this popular and execrable climate-change-denialism site.”

    Try getting a real climate researcher to debunk the stuff there once in a while, that might bump him off and get new eyes on this blog.

  16. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I am working on codifying these Roolz

    So maybe these Roolz should be “Ceiling Cat Commentz Code”?

    Then we can CC the CCCC when the Cs deserve it.

    • stephen
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      me leica

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Sí 😀

  17. mordacious1
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I had not been to Watts up With That? previously. I wish I hadn’t gone this time either. For one, they got another hit to keep them in front (don’t worry, this is probably the only one they will ever get from me). Also, they have an article about the recent increase in Antarctic sea ice. I didn’t need to read this, since this is a popular topic with all the climate change deniers currently.

    Yes, sea ice can increase during climate change, it’s about weather. The thing is, is that sea ice covers a large area and looks impressive in sat imagery, but it is much thinner than continental ice. The continental ice covers a large area and has much greater depth (due to build up over centuries). This is much more important when discussing ice measurement. If the thicker continental ice is diminishing, then total volume of ice is diminishing (even though the thinner sea ice is expanding). People who read that (about expanding sea ice) can understandably be misled about climate change.

  18. Jim Sweeney
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    This is one of the most consistently satisfying «frequently updated websites» I know; I check it out two or three times a day, because something new and interesting has generally been posted. The energy involved is astonishing, and that’s without taking into account the policing of comments (which has made this a pretty nice community).

    I’m puzzled that Professor Ceiling Cat dislikes being addressed as ‘Coyne’. I feel uneasy using the first name with someone I haven’t met, and I try not to look around when someone yells ‘Jim’, because it’s such a common name that it’s rarely intended for me. ‘Sweeney’ I’ll respond to.

    The man has a full-time job and a book to write and a busy travel schedule. Is it reasonable to ask for additional content? That’s what the rest of the web is for.

    However, I’m in the middle of renovating my home, knee-deep in clutter, and the question that keeps coming to mind is, where does our host keep all his boots? Such an extensive collection surely takes up some room. (Apologies if this has already been covered.)

  19. Posted January 20, 2014 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    Does East Worksop have an Atheist Club?! 😉

  20. Scott
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Hahaha, I’m the one who posted the church sign to Reddit! I had no idea it would get that popular. Unfortunately, the in depth articles never get upvoted or get any attention.

  21. michieux
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Regardless of WordPress’s ratings, this site is and remains No. 1 for me (and a great many others, I am sure).

    One of its features is the diversity of material. I’ve written before about how much I enjoy it. And I like the cultural references a lot, too — perhaps it’s a generational thing.

    Speaking of which, I think perhaps that the impulse to send objectionable messages may be a generational thing. I can certainly recall my own stupidity in doing so not all that many years ago.

    Having just turned 64 I hope that these days I’m a bit wiser. And now I’m entitled to serenade my dear wife with a certain Beatles classic.

    Lastly, let those who insult Ceiling Cat know his full, urinary wrath!

  22. lisa parker
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Well,we know now that most people don’t read, so they obviously don’t read “Emily Post.”

  23. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    What’s up, by the way, with the Hamilton School in Aberdeen?

    There were allegations that the teachers were doing something nasty, illegal or stupid to the kids – or the other way around. I did hear the name go past on the news yesterday, but it didn’t penetrate.
    Looking at it … “hysterical” would certainly seem to be an appropriate word. I’ve wasted a couple of minutes of my life trying to figure out what the actual allegations are, and since the posts are rambling and incoherent, I’m deducing that it is just hysterical ranting. “Not worth wasting further time on” would also seem appropriate.
    No link included – deliberately.

  24. JBlilie
    Posted January 22, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you sir! Dem roolz is one of the reasons I spend most of my online time HERE. The discussions are great. Thanks for your tireless policing.

    And the other main reasonn is the quality of the postings.

    Well done!

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