Some good insight here , thank you!
As mentioned, I have a long list of reasons why speculation by professionals is a good thing but... the primary reason why we publish these editorials has not been mentioned.
Apathy: Insensibility to suffering or emotion; passionless existence; lack of interest or emotion; stolid indifference.
More important than the investigation results, more important than debates held at the IMO or industry conferences, more important than professional review boards, more important (at least to us in the commercial sector) than the US Navy itself... is the communication and sharing of ideas and knowledge between maritime professionals. This includes ideas that will lead to improvements in all aspects of our jobs (e.g. safety, performance, job retention, career advancement, incident avoidance) and communication of problems (e.g. the airing of dirty laundry), things that are working right (sometimes we publish critical articles with the intention of allowing our readers to come to the defense of the industry), information, knowledge and the ideas we (and by "we" I really mean YOU) have for improvements.
But this industry is diverse in every way imaginable (e.g. geographically, culturally, socioeconomically, educationally...) which makes communication challenging. Further complicating the issue is the fact that this industry - by its very nature - is comprised by head strong and independent individuals working in an industry that values very traditional/conservative thinking.
The fact is that we publish the incident reports of major incidents when they are published but the majority of our readers are apathetic. Google tracks the number of pageviews and basic reader demographics of every article we publish and we know from these statistics that a majority of maritime professionals read gCaptain. Google also tracks the scroll down rate and time spent reading each article and articles written about final incident reports are among the least read articles we publish.
What does this tell us?
Most in our industry read gCaptain and most do not read the summaries we publish about final incident investigations.... and if they aren't willing to ready a two page summary they certainly aren't reading the entire 100+ page investigation report. I wish we could change this, I wish we had some way of compelling people to read the entire investigation reports but the sad fact is that we don't. People just don't care about the event a 1+ year after it happened.
I could speak at length about the psychology behind this apathy but the fact is that people have a very high desire/need for information when an incident happens and very low desire for it a year later. The simple (and unfortunate!) fact is gCaptian is about the sharing of information, knowledge and ideas within the industry... but we can not force everyone to give a danm... so we have to take hold of this opportunity when we can.
p.s. Yes, early speculation by both editors and forum members, means that information about the actual event is sometimes wrong (not as wrong as some people think because wrong information is usually corrected by other readers) but information about the industry, our strengths, our weaknesses, our problems is usually important and on target. And incidents fill our heads with good ideas and solutions. Ideas and solutions that will help us all prevent future incidents if - and only if - they are shared in a public forum.