Sunday, May 31, 2015

Uncommon Descent in Numbers - 2nd edition

Three years ago, I put up some pictures showing the number of comments and threads at Uncommon Descent. Now seems to be a good occasion to up-date some of this information.

1. Google Trends

Look for yourself: The phrase Uncommon Descent was most searched for in 2008. After that, everybody had bookmarked the site, so further googling became unnecessary. The same holds true for The Panda's Thumb - both sites are equally popular...

2. Threads per Month

The number of new threads per month peaked in 2011, but is still on a high level - though it seems to be decreasing. What makes all the difference is "News" - a.k.a. Denyse O'Leary - adding her news items. While in 2011/2012, those often were left uncommented, since 2013, they attract the attention of her fellow editors (though I got the impression that some commentators use them for their off-topic-remarks, while others just cannot let the copious factual inaccuracies stand uncommented.)

3. Threads per Author and Year

Over the last four-and-a-half years, Denyse O'Leary contributed the majority of new threads (as "O'Leary" and "News"). Cornelius Hunter uses Uncommon Descent regularly to rise the attention for his blog, while the president and chief-enforcer Barry Arrington delights us more and more with his insights.

4. Edits per month

The public interest in Uncommon Descent may by decreasing, but the interest in debate isn't. It peeked in Nov 2014 with nearly 9,300 comments in a single month, discussing topics like An attempt at computing dFSCI for English language, HeKS suggests a way forward on the KS “bomb” argument, and Evolution driven by laws? Not random mutations?. This spike was probably a result of the general amnesty, which allowed free contribution without throttling by the moderation queue (see next section.)

5. Editors per month

In Oct 2014, Barry Arrington announced a general amnesty for all banned editors, a step which perhaps didn't increase the number of commentators per month as much as hoped. Furthermore, the policy was quickly (and silently) revoked, and the banning returned to a "normal" level.

6. Mathematics at Uncommon Descent

Uncommon Descent was founded by William A. Dembski, the "Isaac Newton of Information Theory". Though it is the premier blog in favour of intelligent design, there isn't much mathematics happening over there. One practical reason for this is that not only that there is no $\LaTeX$ extension, Uncommon Descent doesn't allow anything but ascii in the comments, even a Ω will be replaced by a "?" when the comment appears - and basic html tags like <sup></sup> or <sub></sub> cannot be used, neither. But there aren't any mathematicians in the current list of authors - though, when William A. Dembski edited Uncommon Descent regularly, even he addressed questions of a mathematical nature very seldom. Hopefully, this will change with Dr. Winson Ewert...

7. Personal Note

I started editing Uncommon Descent in 2008, and have contributed some 500 edits. For most if the time, I tried to contribute to the mathematical aspects of intelligent design. You have to be quite determined to do so: until Berry Arrington's general amnesty, my comments didn't appear directly, but had to be vetted by one of the moderators - a process which could take days! What it took to get even some indisputable facts to be recognized by the "other side" can be seen in this thread: Evolutionary Informatics Lab website receives facelift... Currently, I'm blocked: I had asked about the disappearance of the numerous comments of Aurelio Smith. I did so three times in a row, as I thought it was a technical glitch which made my question disappear - but it turned out to be design, or better: the will of the designer. Perhaps it is fitting that this is my last conversation at Uncommon Descent:

8. Shout-out to kairosfocus

The crime that got me blocked was asking about Aurelio Smith's comments. I know that your line of reasoning is "He was blocked, therefore he must be guilty of a nefarious crime", but as so often, you are wrong.

Update:I wrote an email to Barry Arrington, linking to my blog and telling him, that I'd like to interact with Winston Ewert on Uncommon Descent. Shortly after, Barry Arrington informed me that my email-address was taken from the block list.


  1. "Aurelio Smith" was a sock-puppet.

  2. Thank you for the information. If this was the reason to delete all of his comments (a unprecedented step, I think), why wasn't it said on-site?

  3. Hey "Anonymous", many of the IDiots at UD use names that are 'sock puppets', such as Mung, Box, fifthmonarchyman, uprightbiped, kairosfocus, Cross, bornagain77, News, phoodoo, UDEditor, bb, Mapou, soundburger, Silver Asiatic, bfast, wd400, logically_speaking, etc., etc., etc.

    None of those are their real names.

    1. There is a difference between a pseudonym and a sock-puppet.

  4. What's the difference in regard to Anonymous's comment? In other words, why is the username Aurelio Smith a "sock-puppet" but the UD usernames I listed are not?

    1. There is something pristine, downright virginal about your first pseudonym on a message board. And KairosFocus will tell you that taking up a second one is the first step on a journey to abuse and cyberstalking or worse.

      Obviously, I have no problems with creating a second pseudonym: the main reason for doing so may be the feeling that someone is still wrong on the internet.

      Only if someone entertains parallel instead of consecutive identities, it gets creepy for me.