Reader Notices

Dear readers,

Am back from Alaska. Despite part of the trip being a fiasco, I recommend you go if you haven’t already. The people are very nice (it’s one of the few places in the US where communities still matter) and the sights really are spectacular. For instance, in one afternoon I had 68 humpback whale sightings (as in watched the same animal until it did the characteristic tail-in-air deep dive). There were so many whales that some of the other passengers got a bit blase.

Because I am in catch-up mode, posting may be lighter than normal for the next few days. Part of it is the result of being backed up on many fronts, but it is also due to having been in a news vacuum for a week plus. I come back to a war in Georgia, Fannie/Freddie dividend cuts, a big dollar rally and a conviction that inflation is not an issue. And that’s just the big headlines (and yes, I who never watch TV am also watching the Olympics).

If you want to help, e-mail me with links to fresh news stories and good commentary and analysis.

I also foolishly offered to send a certain pdf upon request (I learned the hard way never to do that again). If you asked while I was away, you will eventually get it. Please be patient.

I was very pleased with the quality, amount, and variety of posts from the guest bloggers, While many of you provided your usual thoughtful reactions, I was very disappointed to see that some of you made rude comments. These bloggers were kind enough to provide material for your edification and amusement while I was away rather than have this channel go dark for ten days. I was appalled to see how ungrateful some of you were.

Ed Wright, who was in charge when I was away, is under the impression that the proportion of ad hominem attacks in comments increased last week. He isn’t completely sure since he does not normally read comments closely, but if he is correct, I am going to start policing more aggressively. That means deleting posts that stoop to name-calling even if they also make a substantive argument. Vigorous debate and argument are valuable to all, while ad hominem strategies are lazy and mean-spirited.

Finally, antidotes du jour will return to their old place, as part of Links.

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  1. Anonymous

    Welcome back Yves. I thought that it’s important to let you know that you were missed.

    I was surprised at the venom and hostility of some of the comments toward your guests as well. While not the insightful financial posting that I’ve come to admire, your guests were full of delicious irony and acidic wit – something that trolls apparently do not handle well.

    Apparently there are several trolls (possibly paid ones) lurking on your blog, and waiting to pounce. Congratulations on rattling their sense of the status quo, then ;)

  2. Eoghan

    Welcome back. I very much enjoyed the guest commentary (but then I read some of the contributors anyway). I would go further with ad hominem attacks and ban the IP address that they have come from. You are making a rod for your own back if you start policing comments. Personally, I would rather your time is spent providing comment, than policiing comment!

  3. Dan Duncan


    Spare me the self-righteous and hypocritical B.S. Yves.

    I’ve seen Commenters who had the temerity to disagree with the prevailing line of thought on this site be responded to with a nice hearty “Fuck You” in the comments section.

    You remember a recent “fuck off, don’t you? One guy commented, that bloggers—not you, mind you, but bloggers in general, should improve the quality the quality of their work by toning down hyperbole and unsubstantiated claims, etc. He was told, among other things to fuck off. Hell, I tried to stick up for the last guy who was told to fuck off, and instead of condemning the language, etc., you were conspicuously silent, and other readers actually supported the use of the language…because it supported their world view. And no, you were not on vacation.]

    Others who disagree are regularly called idiots, morons, scum, shitbags, etc., etc. You know this better than anyone. You have never…not once… taken the time to condemn this language when used against a person who wrote contrary to your philosophy. If your site is polluted with this garbage, you deserve it.

    Your guest bloggers were withering in their sarcasm of any point of view that disagreed with their own. If they are going to write with that tone, they should be prepared to receive it in return. [And no, I for one didn’t call them names, but I did make fun of them. Reading Cassandra’s caustic tone, and Some Assembly Required quoting Kennan while lamenting prisoner abuse begged ridicule. If you don’t want your guest bloggers to be made fun of, have them either change their tone or improve their quality.]

    If you want to change the spirit of exchanges, then have the integrity to do so across the board.

  4. Yves Smith


    First, while I get e-mails every time a comment is made, I do not always read them all. Putting up new material takes a lot of time and I give that top priority. On busy news days, I may not read the comments, or only sample them. There are entire threads that I have never read.

    Specifically, I never saw the “fuck off” comment you mentioned and I would have intervened if I had.

    Second, I post at night and then seldom look at the blog or post again before the late PM, and when I do get to comments, other readers have often told the out-of-line commenter off in sufficiently strong terms that I conclude for me to intervene at that point would be overkill.

    Third, you engage regularly in unnecessary vituperation. You don’t simply disagree, which is welcome; you seem compelled to engage in angry denigration which is not only disrespectful but also undermines your credibility. I have long been tempted to delete your comments, since they have regularly verged on being unacceptable, but other readers go after your tone often enough that I have hoped you would get the message. You haven’t.

    And attacking your host is particularly unwise. I refer you to Barry Ritholtz’s policy, and he tells me he polices comments actively and aggressively. I am coming to the view that his posture will, as he maintains, improve the quality of the comment stream.

    This may be a free country, but The Big Picture is my personal fiefdom. I rule over all as benevolent dictator/philospher king/utility infielder. Fear my wrath, mortals!

    I will ban anyone whom I choose from posting comments — usually, for a damned good reason, but on rare occasions, for the exact same reason God created the platypus: because I feel like it.

    I encourage a broad range of perspectives, philosophies, sexual orientations. Dissent is good. I want to see a debate of views, a battle in the market place of ideas. (Thomas Jefferson wasn’t so dumb after all). You can post on nearly anything, so long as it is at least tangentially related to the topic at hand.

    On occasion, I will “unpublish” a comment if I feel it is too impolite, harsh, ad hominem, inappropriate, or off-topic. Off-topic posts have been rising, and I have taken to unpublishing them en masse. Publish too many comments on a given post (3 or 4 relevant comments out of 30 are fine, 10 out of 30 is excessive). It takes me ~10 seconds to un-publish 10 comments.

    If you find yourself publishing way too many comments, consider this: This humble blog is my forum for expressing my ideas. Get your own damned blog.

    A few things that will get you permanently banned from commenting at The Big Picture. The fastest way to lose posting privileges is to misrepresent your host’s complex and nuanced views in some inane bumper sticker comment. Those who do this, be advised: I’ve read your prose and considered your thought process: Suffice it to say the literary world will suffer no harm for your deletion (Robert Frost’s legacy is safe).

    Other fast tracks to getting banned:

    – Knowingly posting false or malicious material;
    – multiple postings under different names;
    – generally engaging in troll-like behavior;
    – misquoting your host/overlord;
    – being impolite in the extreme;
    – ad hominem attacks;
    – being an asshole.

    Right now, someone is reading this and saying to themselves “What does he mean, being an asshole?” If you wondered that to yourself, well the odds strongly favor that you yourself have sphincter-like qualities. Thus, you should consider it likely that you will be banned as a rectoid from posting comments sometime in the near future.

  5. mxq

    Dan…regardless of whether Yves actively polices every ignorant comment or not does make asshattery “ok.”


    Is it so much to ask?

    Welcome back, Yves.

  6. Kady

    Welcome back Yves. I’ve very much enjoyed reading the guest posts on this blog during your absence, as they were mostly by bloggers who I have already been frequenting.

    Trolls are attention seekers and not very bright ones at that. They stink up a place like overstaying guests and their insistent rudeness does nothing to garner sympathy for their supposed “different position”.

    Feed the beast at your own peril!

  7. Dan Duncan

    That’s funny.

    Acting as if you’ve no idea that people making non-conforming opinions are regularly and repeatedly called morons, idiots, shitheads, etc., etc.

    OK, Yves, I believe you…..

    Not only is 90% of your content simply a cut and paste of other people’s work, now we find that you’ve gone straight to Big Picture for your “Comment Policy”.

    My favorite is when you write about credit derivatives…. while being…a derivative blog.

    No need to ban me, I’m out. I’ll leave you and your denizens to more of your nonthinking Group Think.

    This site’s gone from an interesting commentary on financial affairs to Leftist garbage about hating USA, apocalyptic global warming, etc., etc. Even the last 10% that’s supposed to be “original” is nothing but rehashed Daily Kos trash.

    So faretheewell Yves, and always remember, when in doubt, WWKD: What Would Krugman Do?

  8. mxq

    whoops…i only left out the most operative word in the sentence…”regardless of whether Yves actively polices every ignorant comment or not does NOT make asshattery “ok.”

  9. mxq

    Dan, I’m not sure that’s fair to make such overarching comments like: “Acting as if you’ve no idea that people making non-conforming opinions are regularly and repeatedly called…etc etc”

    You can’t possibly know what Yves, or anyone else, is thinking.

    In fact, the only hard evidence you’ve cited is vauge and circumstantial.

    For such grave comments, I think it is at the very least, irresponsible to not cite anything.

    Total drive-by, hack-job on your part.

    In addition, you’ve paid nothing yet at some point in time, received though-provoking analysis (as you admitted yourself).

    That sort of “what have you done for me lately” mentality is scary, to say the least.

    Good luck with that.

    You’re gonna need it.

  10. Anonymous

    Welcome back, Yves.

    Yes I liked your guest bloggers but they inadvertantly illustrated how unique, timely, and to the point your insights are (by not being you).

    Oh, by the way, support from this quarter for going with the Barry Ritholtz policy.

    Comments are a sort of eco-system. I would suggest changing to a monitored system faster rather than slower, because a nasty environment in the comments section will deter commenters that you want as part of your community.

  11. donna

    Yay, one less angry troll! Woo hoo!

    Of course he’ll just go bug someone else. They always do….

    Welcome home! Alaska sounds like it was fun.

  12. elmsworth

    No need to ban me, I’m out.

    We who are about to miss you, thank you.

    I’ll leave you and your denizens to more of your nonthinking Group Think.

    Us mere mortals deserve our fate. Leave us to our doom, master.

  13. rdan

    LOL Yves.

    I will watch your policies with interest. Please do not send any trolls our way to AB.

    I did alaska by boat. Did you go be helicpter to the big ice fields?

  14. dynamitejacket

    i shamefully admit that i took a vacation too, and read not a one of the guest posts. My crush remains for Yves alone. but thanks for holding down the fort guest bloggers.

  15. Paul

    Welcome back. I too have be on vacation and I’m just catching up on my reading. I read a number of blogs on a daily basis. Some I just skim. Yours is one I read every post, but only rarely read the comments. Your insight always makes me stop and think. Thank you. I need to do more of that!

    I am disappointed to hear of comments on the guest blogs that were out of line. That is totally uncalled for and I support the suggestion of banning the IPs. I don’t think you should be spending your time policing every comment.

    I found Cassandra delightfully different and I now read SAR on a regular basis. Its good to find another curmudgeon!

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