Drugs, facebook and open comments section: admin update

This blog hit some more milestones recently; all-time hit count is now over a quarter million, and Puff has attracted a little media attention. The BBC News linked to the piece on meth, for example, my post about sarin got reblogged on Gizmodo, and more recently a couple reporters contacted me with questions related to specific articles (to my surprise, I have to admit, but the world of journalism is a strange one nowadays).

All of that is fine so far as I’m concerned. But this blog has also been attracting some attention of a more negative kind. Looking at the traffic report, it looks like Puff the Mutant Dragon gets dozens of hits a day on average from people searching for queries like “P2P process,” “how to make meth with P2P”, “making meth and aluminum” and other things of this nature.

This worries me a little. The reason I wrote about meth was because the chemistry is interesting and because there was a cool unanswered question about the chemistry of Breaking Bad I hadn’t seen addressed elsewhere (the enantiomeric purity of Walt’s meth). I have no desire to help anyone figure out how to make this compound for themselves — quite the contrary. I was thinking about editing the post to make it less, well, informative, but now that I think about it my post doesn’t really contain the kind of detailed info you’d need to make meth, so I’m going to leave it as is for the time being. I strongly suspect that much more detailed step-by-step instructions for manufacture are available elsewhere online anyway.

A side note for those of you who follow this blog on Facebook. Unfortunately Facebook has (for reasons unbeknownst to me) locked me out of my account, so I can’t add new posts to Puff’s facebook page just at the moment. I am going to try to fix this, so hopefully I’ll regain access at some point in the near future.

Also, a note on my comments policy. I like to leave it pretty open, although I do draw the line at anything that is either a) racist or sexist, b) openly offensive to other commenters, c) ad hominem attacks or d) deliberately willfully ignorant. Other than that I like to let a thousand flowers bloom. I strongly disagree with Popular Science magazine’s recent decision to close their comments section; yeah, there’s all kinds of trolls and haters out there, but by closing down comments you not only close the door to the haters and the trolls, you also close the door to serious readers who actually have something interesting to say. Back in the Bad Old Days, if you saw an article in the newspaper and it was wrong, you had to sit down and write a letter to the editor about it. More often than not you didn’t have time so you forgot about it. Even when you DID have time the Editor at the paper might decide your letter wasn’t worth printing. Whereas nowadays you can post a comment, it takes no time at all, and sometimes the author of the article will actually see your comment and make the appropriate corrections. You never know; sometimes it really happens.

Also, let me just say I’m really really looking forward to the final episode of Breaking Bad tomorrow — this better not be a total letdown…

4 thoughts on “Drugs, facebook and open comments section: admin update

  1. So glad this blog is getting some attention! It’s the only blog I read consistently. I love it for it’s attention to scientific accuracy balanced with an informative style that doesn’t get too formal. Keep up the good work!

  2. Detailed instructions for the synthesis of methamphetamine from phenyl-2-propanone or pseudoephedrine are available all over the web so I don’t think you have to worry that discussing the illicit synthesis of drugs is giving anyone information they couldn’t get otherwise.

    Anyways, nice blog, keep up the good work.

  3. Congratulations on all the traffic and attention!

    I’m really glad you’re keeping the comments open and not changing past articles. I found them really interesting, and think it would be a shame if other people came here and found neutered articles and a quiet environment instead of the the informative and inspiring writing that is Puff the Mutant Dragon. Keep up the great work, Puff! You help keep the fire of inquiry burning in my head, and I look forward to every new post of yours (even if I may be a bit late to the party today…).

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