Your Special Report (Nature 441, 392–393; 2006) and Editorial “Finding fraud in China” (Nature 441, 549–550; 200610.1038/441549b) express deep concern about accusations of scientific misconduct in China. You rightly point out that it should be the government's greatest priority to crack down on scientific misconduct, if it is rife.

The New Threads website covers wide areas such as literature and popular science. It is well known for posting accusations of all types of scientific misconduct, and providing a forum for people to discuss their concerns. There are good reasons for the popularity of the website among intellectuals and the general public. It is the motivation of those condemning it that needs to be questioned.

It is misleading to suggest that high-profile researchers could be persecuted through accusations made against them on the Internet, or to compare this to the Cultural Revolution. I witnessed the violence of the Cultural Revolution in my childhood. My parents were abused by the Red Guard because of their family, education and professional background. I cried when I saw crosses marking their names in posters and cartoons.

The Cultural Revolution was a mass movement organized by the country's leader to crack down on his opponents. New Threads is just a platform without any official power: openness is the key to its success. It has become a portal for the grass roots who are ignored by official channels, such as university authorities, when they report misconduct. Internet debate and the resultant public attention can act as a warning to people attempting to violate research ethics. This is nothing like the horror of the Cultural Revolution.