Policies

Advertising

Yes, we have it. No ads, no site. We don’t like the visual clutter any more than you do but treating this website like an enterprise rather than a hobby requires funding.

Some of you may be offended that we run advertising from large financial firms and other institutions that you may regard as dubious and often come under attack on this blog. Please be advised that the management of this site does not chose or negotiate those placements. We use an ad service and it rounds up advertisers who want to reach our educated and highly desirable readership.

We suggest you try recontextualizing. How successful do you think these corporate conversion efforts are likely to be? And in the meantime, they are supporting a cause you presumably endorse. Consider those ads to be an accidental form of institutional penance.

Comments

General

We like to foster open, robust, and informed discussion in our comments section. Our readers’ observations are often at least as informative as our posts, and they can be funny too. The commentariat also keep us on our toes (as in they hector us if we’ve gotten bits of our argument wrong or neglected to include information they deem relevant) and graciously corrects our too frequent typos and broken links.

We try to intervene as little as possible, but the fact is that having a high caliber conversation among readers necessitates demanding that readers argue in a fair-minded manner and keep the personal invective down.

Bear in mind that commenting is a privilege, not a right. This site is not a public park where anyone can set up his own soapbox. You are using private, hosted space. If you come to our party and throw your drink at the hosts or piss in our potted plants, you will be shown the door, pronto.

Moderation

Most comments appear immediately, but because we have implemented caching to improve site performance, it may take as much as 2 minutes. So if your comment does not show up immediately, please wait a wee bit. We can guarantee that reposting the same comment will not lead to it going through. If the first one got hung up somehow (even comments by regulars can get mistagged as spam), a second effort will get the same treatment and leads our comment software to assign you more spammer points. Reposting also creates extra work for the already overloaded admins, who now have to figure out which comments of yours are dupes and which aren’t.

If you get a message that your comment is being moderated, that means one of two things has happened. Most likely is that you have been snagged by one of our many and complex tripwires. These are meant to catch trolls but sometime ensnare the innocent. Please be patient. We review the mod queue when we can, which is at least once every 24 hours. That may be frustrating to you but we’ve repeatedly told readers if they want faster intervention in pending comments, we’d need to fund a semi-dedicated person to keep on top of that. We haven’t gotten a single donation to support speedier approval, which says that the inconvenience is sufficiently infrequent across our readership that they can tolerate it.

The other possibility is that you have been put into moderation. See our discussion of trolls below. That means you’ve engaged in troll-like behavior but not severe or consistent enough for us to ban you yet. We have having a look-see to ascertain whether you were just in a bad mood or we discussed a personal pet peeve and you got unduly aggressive, and our concerns were overdone, or whether you’d be better off going to another site to vent your spleen there. If you are a borderline case, you increase your odds of not being put into moderation by providing a real, current email address so we can give you a warning via email rather than throwing you in moderation. Hint: bitching about censorship gets you lots of troll points.

Banning

Please read Barry Ritholtz’s discussion of Assignments and more important, Trolls and Asshats. We consider Barry’s policies to be Web standard.

We do not ban people on their point of view. We ban on behavior. Things that will get you banned include:

  • High invective to content ratio
  • Sock puppeting yourself (as in using several identities to make the same argument on a post to create the impression that numerous readers support your in reality isolated point of view)
  • Link-whoring (as in making a barely relevant comment and using that to promote your site)
  • Recurring ad hominem attacks on fellow commentors
  • Persistent intellectual dishonesty or as Lambert calls it, “any stick to beat a dog.” That includes misrepresenting evidence, straw manning, seeking to win an argument at all costs, shifting ground to a new argument after losing the old one, and not admitting the loss or the shift
  • And the number one fast track, assisted suicide requests via attacking the integrity of the site or any of the regular site writers

Once in a great while (on average, less than one comment a month) we will remove a non-spam comment (and comments from people who were previously banned who manage to sneak back in are tantamount to spam). That results from it being either exceptionally abusive or obvious trollery. Because this blog has become more and more political over time, we can get comments from obvious paid trolls (since we have read over 450,000 comments in the last seven years, we have finely tuned methods for detecting this type of comment).