A Comment on Comments

I have noticed a deterioration in the quality of comments in the last month or so. While mean spirited, intellectually bankrupt remarks used to be rare, they are now occurring more than occasionally. And the number of ad hominem attacks, both on other readers and post authors, has also increased.

Although I am not reading comments as often during the day as I used to, trust me, I do read all comments. Ad hominem attacks will be deleted. Snarkiness directed at the argument made in a comment is permitted if the writer has indeed put his foot in his mouth and might benefit from being told that, but slurs on its author are not (although I am sometimes tempted to let them stand, since they generally serve to reveal bigotry or ignorance).

One of the most valuable elements of this blog has been its high quality of comments. Nastiness is a disservice to the community and will not be tolerated.

I will also block IP addresses of serious offenders.

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  1. Anonymous

    This is Richie in Atlanta writing. Although all my comments to date have been posted anonymously, I’d think eliminating the anonymous post might help reduce some of the noise. I’ve always appreciated the resource that the NakedCapitalism.com comment section provides. In fact, when this site was first recommended to me, the high quality of the comment area was one reason for the recommendation. I believe, like many of you, that it is the ideas themselves that are what’s important here. Perhaps placing a few restrictions on who can post would help weed out some of the nonconstructive stuff.

  2. Anonymous

    Popularity and the pot boiling is another reason, don’t expect things to simmer down much.

    Concur that those that wish to disagree or challenge this blog, guest posts or other commenter’s, should give clear reason for their objections with out ad-hominem attacks, which are just gutter tactics, which no light shines from to clarify their argument.

    skippy…man, does not have a negitive effect on his enviroment… cuz its BS…errrr,eh

  3. Anonymous

    How do you post without resorting to an anonymous tag? I’ve tried all the options and it’s the only one that allows me to post. I’d much rather have it tagged to me.

  4. IF

    So far I haven’t seen any deleted comments, so hard to tell what you are referring to.

    Personally, I am against requiring registration. I will not post to blogs requiring this. I am fine with moderation, if you read everything anyways.

    Your statement “Calling Taleb arrogant is an ad hominem attack.” is a bit puzzling. But I guess people have different sensitivities, as Krugman noted:
    Is it pornography when you see it? Well, it is your blog. You can do as you wish.

  5. ukituki_pl

    How about outsourcing comments to Disqus? It promotes best commenters and encorages posting under nick or real name.

    You may check how it works at Paul Kedrosky’s Infectious Greed blog.

  6. Elizabeth Ericson

    no no no… nasty comments means the truth hurt and you delivered the message. keep up good blogging.

  7. nowhereman

    I really enjoy the back and forth of comments. I like the wit and sarcasm. I like the intelligence and honesty. However, I bristle at personal attacks and thank goodness there is not much of that here, that’s why I keep coming back. Youse guys are good.

  8. Marco Antonio Moreno

    I completely agree. As an admirer of this blog and others who read it with frequency, I have noticed a deterioration in the quality and it also tells us that there is not only a financial crisis, but also a human crisis, a social crisis, a cultural crisis. And all this only reflects ignorance and bigotry.
    Greetings from Chile and patience
    I love the “Antidote du jour”
    This is one of my favorite blog,
    Do not give up!!

  9. Dave

    Hi Yves. It’s a public forum and while I understand your views I would humbly submit to you that maintaining the unfettered tide of public opinion should trump sentiment in the vast majority of cases. I think by raising the issue, as you have done, that’s the best approach. “Speak softly and cary a big stick”, so to speak.

    All that said, it’s difficult to understate the emotiveness of many of the issues this blog raises. The greed, the fraud, the incompetence. The downright embezzlement. The socialisation of the largest losses in corporate history onto the tapped-out taxpayer while the gangsters – I mean bankers – sail off into the sunset. This is enough to provoke even mild mannered folk to frothing-at-the-mouth outrage. Occasionally it spills over into public fora like these.

    I’m prepared to tread through more than a little muck to get to the truth. I am sure most NC readers would agree.

  10. Anonymous

    I read in a greeting card once

    -“All things are best at their beginning.”

    On the cover was a bunny or kitten or what have you.

    Your popularity is the problem. If you have 10,000 daily visits and 50% of the posters agree with you and 50% are mixed or negative then you have 5,000 potential missiles aimed at your site. let’s say there is a lunatic fringe of 1% of that 50%, leading to 50 potential derogatory comments.

    My guess is your hit rate has gone up or people don’t like reading the guest comments (after all it’s your site).

    Countries without leaders often descend into anarchy.

  11. Benedict@Large

    On a techical note, banning IPs isn’t that effective since most commenters probably have dynamic IP assignment. Banning by IP range might catch some of these, but could possibly ensnare the innocent, and so is not advised.

    The best way is to ban by MAC address, as it is specific to an individual computer (or router), but I’m not sure of the availability of software to do this. This is not a perfect method, but it’s probably as close as one can get.

  12. Anonymous

    I posted a comment on the last guest post by Rolfe Winkler, where I complained that he didn’t make the case for a solvency crisis. I didn’t call him names or insult him in any way, just pointed out that the post was incomplete, and yet it was deleted anyway. I guess only comments which praise the post are allowed. Don’t bother banning me, I’ll stop reading voluntarily. Bye.

  13. Patrick Griffiths

    I second the suggestion that eliminating anonymous comments would probably help keep the signal to noise ratio under control.

  14. Anonymous

    Benedict@Large –

    That would not work, the MAC address is only used at the frame layer, which wraps the TCP packet on the wire. So the MAC of a packet in this instance would just be the node that was the final connection in the chain to the server.

  15. phil martin

    Very much appreciate your concern for maintaining a civil forum. Watched a news/opinion show today during which a segment featured two talking heads, one “pro” and one “con.” Pro and con quickly got into it, and the topic under discussion got lost as two people shouted “liar” at each other. The host eventually called the whole thing off.

    This sort of confrontation was quite the thing back in the 90’s–I recall the McGlaughlin Group on PBS made people attacking each other, talking over and past each other, a new sort of “normal.”

    I think we are all past that, now (or so hope). In these times, we can’t afford such poisonous trivialities as sarcasm, personal attack, mockery, and other rude behavior. This isn’t so much about being nice and decent as it is advancing our understanding of things. And you can’t do that when the level of conversation descends into namecalling and personal attacks.

    Good work!

  16. artichoke

    I would advise you to continue to allow anon. comments and to delete those that are worthless. In this blog it’s been pretty obvious what those are, imho, and so chop away.

    Anon. comments are important. Some of the most incisive and controversial stuff would not be posted if a name had to be attached, I’m sure. And those are the gems, the bits of life that let us see things a new “non-approved” way or let us know that others share our suspicions.

    Sincere anonymous comments are one of the really valuable things on this blog.

  17. Yves Smith

    Anon of 1:31 AM,

    I still have the text of your comment here, and I have reviewed it.

    Your tone was abusive, you dismissed Rolfe’s argument as spurious by attacking a rhetorical device he used rather than the substance of the argument he was making with that device. You also accused him of making personal attacks, which he did not. That demonstrated you are either unable to interpret arguments correctly, or deliberately choose to mischaracterize them to score points.

    My removal of your comment is not about getting an echo chamber here, that would be boring, but getting informed commentary, which includes well founded criticism.

  18. Anonymous

    Please forgive if this double posts.

    Promote those you trust to be moderators. This is lots of fun for the chosen, and takes the stress off the site owner.

    This is standard procedure.

    I tend to carefully read the articulate posts. I ignore the silly ones. We are all experienced forum users here. The forum is fine.

    Richie in Atlanta is correct, removing anonymous posting would help a lot.

    Anonymous of April 9, 2009 1:30 AM is correct. Your popularity is the problem.

    Benedict@Large is correct, the MAC (Media Access Control) address provides no help to the recipient. The MAC received is that of the previous router hop.

  19. Expat

    I have become distressingly more cynical and radical, and I suppose I am not alone. Despair and rage are seeking a vent and an anonymous post is as good a place as any to find that vent. Of course, this is not an excuse, merely a possible explanation.

  20. john c. halasz

    No, removing anonymous postings is a bad idea. Though many such posters might be posting lazy, trivial or otherwise irresponsible remarks, there are plenty of worthwhile anon. comments, likely posted by knowledgeable insiders, who would have good reason for withholding identifying markers. It’s the readers’ job to sort through the comments and judge for themselves. Though the degeneration of comments is a real worry. I used to read comments at CR, until the amount of useless verbiage became overwhelming, and the few recognizable worthwhile commenters few and far between. It was only on occasion worthwhile to watch the late, lamented Tanta slap down idiotic commenters, who’d entirely and recurrently missed the point. But then that’s already mere entertainment rather than information and analysis.

  21. eh

    I don’t think you should delete comments, regardless.

    No, removing anonymous postings is a bad idea.

    Some sites disallow them, which I don’t like. Personally, I find “Anonymous” posts absurd when it is so simple to just choose a (text) moniker (via ‘Name/URL’) and be, for all practical purposes, (just as) anonymous. But go ahead and post away as “Anonymous” if that’s your (weird) thing.

    Still a top site Yves. And good luck with the book, which I know must be a ton of work.

  22. rootless cosmopolitan

    Perhaps, it can be attributed in part to guest postings, which attract different type of people to your blog compared to before? My impression is that the analytical quality of the postings has become more mixed, recently. I really used to value when you were the almost exclusive poster, Yves. When I want to read other bloggers I go to their blogs. The more guest bloggers write on your blog, the more average your blog becomes. If all bloggers write here you will have the perfectly average blog.


  23. philippe

    a top site, indeed
    your reminder to more civility should be working
    with a tad of moderation when necessary
    philippe, belgium

  24. alex black

    People are just edgy because we’re all shorting the market and getting killed. It’ll pass.

    Financial disclosure: I’m shorting the market and getting killed.

  25. Donlast

    I would be wary Yves. Your blog has a very high standing. Its trenchant criticism and commentary has become essential reading. As such it is open to poisoning by those who want fluffy stuff on government and all its works: try to discredit the messenger you don’t like. Such is the price of fame, Yves.

  26. Anonymous

    I was thinking along the same line as Donlast. Are people who don’t like what you are writing trying to poison the blog?

    Although the frustration of the public at what governments are doing to protect their “friends” is probably also an influence on their behaviour.

  27. Pixie

    It’s your blog, and I think you have the unfettered right to delete what you want.

    But I do think there’s a double standard at work: civility and decorum are enforced except when you talk about people in the financial services industry. For those latter people, it seems, there is a license to denigrate if not (borderline) defame in a fairly indiscriminate manner.

    There are some examples one can cite …

    I like your blog and I like the links, but I think a more considered approach to criticism in some of the posts might go a long way.

  28. Anonymous

    Hi there,

    I know this doesn't really relate to your topic here but I was wondering if you can help explain this report for amateurs like me-


    From my understand, this report indicates there was a huge increase in money transfer to ECB after Wamu seizure by FDIC…

    "The amounts deposited with the ECB rise from a
    daily average of 0.09 billion euros in the week starting September1, 2008 to a daily average of 169.41 billion in the week of September 29, 2008… The amounts deposited with the ECB start rising after the collapse of Washington Mutual when the crisis spreads outside the investment banking realm."

    Does this mean FDIC seized Wamu for a $15 billion bank run but by the same action, FDIC may have caused an even bigger bank run from the US banks to ECB on a daily average of about $160 billion?

    How come no media is covering this analysis? Is this report accurate? Does it show dramatic outflow of money from the US into ECB started not after BSC/ Lehman/ AIG/FRE/FNM fiasco but after Wamu seizure?

    I guess one can argue this transferred began because TARP got stalled. But after Paulson's bailout plan passed Congress, it seems to me these deposits did not come back to the US.

    FDIC's decision to wipe out Wamu bondholders crashed the bond market and led the demise of Wachovia, continuing this outflow.

    "The first thing that happened this morning: credit-default swaps blew out on Wachovia… Wachovia bondholders are wondering if they're next," Sauter said. Translation: options on Wachovia bonds showed confidence in the securities had collapsed. "Wachovia is on the ropes now because their financing costs are going through the roof. It's an absolute reaction against how FDIC sold WaMu," Sauter said.""


    So in summary, please correct me if Im wrong-

    -FDIC did not have enough money guarantee Wamu deposits;
    F-DIC seized and sold Wamu and wiped out bondholders;
    -Bond market crashed
    -$160 billion daily transferred from US banks to ECB began
    -CDS blew out on Wachovia
    -Wachovia almost failed
    -Money outflow to Europe continued


  29. Dan Duncan

    Yves, have you considered Acme’s Shithead Post Remover?

    You know the standard “spam guard” that comes with with every reputable blogging platform…the one that requires the poster to enter in a few letters of text to ensure the post is not spam?

    Well Acme’s Shithead Post Remover works in much the same way….

    Imagine one of these disgruntled posters reading a Naked Cap Article and going all Tourette’s on everybody. These are the ones, who long ago, removed all pretense of a filter. They confuse words with thoughts as they go on another one of their interminable rants. These verbose postal posters are like the writer version of “that guy” we all know from work who has never read a book, and therefore is unfamiliar with punctuation—specifically the period—so he drones on and on; a breathless monologue in a Shakespearean psycho-tragedy about…the sour milk they bought at Walmart last week…and “why can’t they ever get those expiration dates right?”

    Only the verbose postal poster is so passionate! You just know he’s an ALL CAPS THINKER. “WHAT’S ON TV?” “WHERE ARE MY SHOES?”

    Anyways…so you have this shithead poster whom you know is going to post something moronic on your blog. You also know, however, that interactive social commentary is essential to any successful blog. You cannot, then, just squelch all the commentary. So what to do? What to do?

    That’s where Acme’s SHithead Post Remover comes in….

    Shithead writes his post with his typical passion. “THEY NEED TO READ THIS.” With great anticipation for the life altering affect this post will have on its readers, he presses “Publish Your Comment”…

    Only, instead of seeing “Your Comment was Successfully Saved”, he is taken to another screen.

    And there it hits him: In order to post, he must fill out one more “word verification” string…only instead of a few letters, he has to enter an entire paragraph:

    HDONFOIF{OIFJNKGODEGNsof…only there’s many lines of this. And he has to get every one right or start over again. And the beauty of Acme’s program is that it’s verification strings are guaranteed to have more of the hard-to-distinguish-between-upper-and-lower-case-letters than any on post filter on the market today…It’s case sensitive strings are chalk filled with C,K,O,P,S,U,V,W,X and Z….

    Think of his frustration. He’s written today’s manifesto (these guys all have manifestos)…he’s past the point of publication climax…and instead of changing people’s lives…he’s left with trying to decipher if the 8th entry on line 6 should be a O or o or 0.

    And with each incorrect entry, he receives a lesson in the beauty of writing economically:

    “Wrong. Start Over”


    Acme’s Shithead Post Remover also comes in a Deluxe and Premium version.

    The Deluxe version simply tells the shithead poster to enter digits of Pi up to, for example, the 4735th digit…Acme’s random Pi digit selector will choose digits from between 2500 and 10000.

    The Premium version is for the hard-core cases: The ones who will gladly employ their spreadsheet software to organize Pi all the way to the 10,000th digit….

    Acme is really proud of this Premium version. It is based on the latest in artificial intelligence algorithms…and yet it seems so simple:

    After the post, the shithead poster is taken to a screen that reads, “We are not satisfied with the “proofs” given for Fermat’s Last Theorem. Solve it anew.”

    And with that, I bid you adieu.

    Of course, I am guilty of everything contained herein…except I don’t think IN ALL CAPS.

  30. Anonymous

    Anon @ 7:10: Are people who don’t like what you are writing trying to poison the blog?

    Conspiracy theories are always exciting, but absent evidence, we must accept the more prosaic null model: vandals are undiscriminating retards. They see a high-value, relatively undefended target and do what comes naturally to them.


  31. Anonymous

    *sigh* such is the internet…..the probability of the presence of wignuts = 1 (apologies for my own ad hominem attack), once you hit a certain traffic threshold.

    my $0.01, “registered” comments won’t deter off-topic comments.

    My personal wish is that all comments had a +1/-1 feedback mechanism a la youtube…..such that commenters can self-police and comments receiving negative points will be grayed out and semi-hidden unless actively revealed by a reader.

  32. assault_kitten

    To posters: I suggest that all of you use a stable nickname when you comment here. It is easier to follow comments when people have names, than to follow 10 “anonymous” in a thread.

    Yves: If you feel bad about censorship (wich you should not), put posts that are deleted in viewable “trashbin”. That way people who like digging in rubbish can see what you delete. It would help against accusations about creating an echo chamber. (If its possible without too much work, make one trashbin for each post.)

    If there is hope for a post, put a mark on it. “Your post has some merit, but needs some rewriting to get published”. What should be rewritten is up to the original poster to figure out. (You should not get bogged down in editing work)

    Question to the audience: Does anyone know about a comment editing system that is easy to use and works with “blogger.com”?

  33. Anonymous

    “While mean spirited, intellectually bankrupt remarks used to be rare, they are now occurring more than occasionally.”

    Perhaps this is a reaction to the often vitriolic content of the blog. It’s always easier to dish it out then take it, I suppose.

  34. Anonymous


    Thank you for holding the space of this blog in a positive and informative light. I have learned so much from reading the comments and you truly do have some amazing readers. I enjoy the comments as much as the articles. I agree with you that nasty comments for the sake of being nasty or mean with no intelligent thought are not welcome. They inhibit others from posting and they take up readers time which could be used to read valid opinions and thoughts.

    Thank you SO much for monitoring this space and keeping it as a place where others may come to learn, share, discuss and open their minds. I appreciate you ‘midwifing’ for us.

  35. Steve

    And I think rootless cosmopolitan identified the problem perfectly. (Sorry, I missed it previously.) The quality of comments may have changed because the content of the blog has changed.

  36. Harlem Dad

    IF @ 12:51 AM said …

    “Your statement “Calling Taleb arrogant is an ad hominem attack.” is a bit puzzling.”

    It isn’t to me. Ad hominem means “to the man.” If I call Talib “arrogant” without providing an intellectual argument as to why he is arrogant based on an erroneous view he holds or an error in his thinking, then I am merely attack the man, NOT his argument.

    I read the Paul Krugman comment you cited. From this comment I gained in insight into Willem Buiter that helps me understand his writing.

    Had he said “Buiter is a stupid wuss who doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he quotes Winnie the Pooh while I’m talking about Night of the Living Dead, here …” that would be an ad hominem attack. Consequently, I would conclude that it’s not Buiter who is stupid, but the person who called him stupid.

    And this is why avoiding ad hominem is important. First, it reflects poorly on the person who writes it. If tolerated, it will reflect badly on Yves and work to diminish what is arguably the best blog for understanding the economic mess we are in. Such informed understanding is critical if we are to avoid turning an economic debacle into a generational disaster.

    Tim in Sugar Hill

  37. Bob Sharpe


    Same root.
    Same word.
    Same thing.

    Ignore ignorance!

    Problem solved.

    Great posts here, by the way.

  38. Anonymous

    I am a longtime reader, but have never commented (and don’t usually read the comments section). Just wanted you to know that I am greatly appreciative of the efforts you and the guest bloggers put in to naked capitalism. I’m sorry that the tenor of the comments has deteriorated, but, on behalf of your ‘silent audience’, we thank you.

  39. Cat

    Heh. With Roubini and Cramer heating it up, and before that Cramer vs Stewart, maybe everyone is getting into the game. Though where Cramer is concerned, he really should STFU. I’m generally of the opinion that bombastic trolls have “other issues” and can be safely sidelined.

    Eliminating anonymous posts won’t solve the problem. Blocking certain IPs is generally not workable either; people with “other issues” are seldom deterred by such measures. Best is allowing viewers to block display of anonymous posts as a rule, and then blocking views of individual posters as needed. Let them post all they like and be ignored.


  40. Evelyn Sinclair

    I prefer people to use some kind of name, as you can get to know them from what say, and learn who to pay particular attention to. When someone tends to say little of value, you can learn to skip their posts.

    A suggestion that may help: the ability to rate posts with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” turns the commentary into a democratic voting system as well. It is satisfying to me to be able to demote a post, without having to write a note about how wrongheaded it is, especially if others have come to the same conclusion. It is also very satisfying to offer a “thumbs up” to those who have delivered particularly good posts.

    Whimsical suggestion: Put the offensive posts through a “Talk Like a Pirate” translator. Arrrrrrrr!

  41. Brad Stiritz


    Thank you so much for facing up in this post to the ugly truth. Phew! Yes, IMHO you absolutely need to do something about the collapse in quality, overall, in the comments. That means you'll have to make a difficult choice or two about how you see yourself as a writer & public speaker, and how you see your audience & this forum of yours.

    In case you're not familiar with Dan Savage's column "Savage Love" at thestranger.com or with the genetics & culture discussion site GNXP.com, hosted by "razib", let me please make a couple of brief comparisons.

    Like you, Dan & razib are brilliant, fearless & forceful writers who are bringing really important, progressive ideas forward for consideration. These two guys have diametrically different attitudes about commenting. The comments on Savage Love appear to be unmoderated. I seriously doubt whether Dan spends two seconds *ever* looking through those comments. (Of course, he's also spending hours and hours every week with the thousands of letters & emails asking for advice, but obviously he could delegate comment moderation, and it *could* get done). As a long-time reader, I suspect that not many people read those comments. I feel that people go to Savage Love to read Dan Savage, period. And yeah, there's a comment form, if anyone wants to vent or say something stupid or possibly intelligent. But the result is almost like a craigslist forum: reading through it, you just have to laugh & shake your head.

    razib, on the other hand, is absolutely brutal in moderating comments on his site. Please consider the following from GNXP:

    “Comment Guidelines
    Terms of use

    Please do not sign your comment as “anonymous” or “anon” as it makes arguments of specific individuals harder to follow. Make up a distinctive pseudonym. If you do use the handles above, do not be surprised if your comment is deleted.

    [the following line appears just above comment form]
    An intelligent and sincere comment:

    Comment board guidelines
    Terms of use

    All comments will be aggressively pruned for content, style and general contribution to the value of this forum. Any follow up comments questioning why a comment was deleted will also be deleted.”

    This kind of tough policy would make your own comment pages better & more welcome places for someone like bondinvestor, who is the kind of voice that really needs to be heard in the forum & be not drowned out by all the everyday twitter-type chatter. As it is now, look at what happened recently, in case you missed:

    “Anonymous said…
    bondinvestor – hah, you poor bastard, you thought people here were interested in sober analysis.

    Don’t waste your breath.

    Naked Capitalism is the new Little Green Footbals.”

    Reading this made me feel sad for him/her, for you, for me..

  42. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Imagine you have a bunch of wolves and one of them is howling all night long, do you think other wolves will try to stop it?

    Here is a Zen story. Two travelling monks came to a stream and saw a beautiful lady stuck there, not knowing how to cross it. One of the monks picked her up and carried her across. Later on, the other monk asked: “You konw we are not supposed to have contact with females?” The monk replied: “I carried her but left her at the stream. Why are you still carrying it in your head?”

    If someone slaps you on the right cheek, you can turn over the other cheek, but that implies you’re offended, hurt or bothered by it in some way, but you understand his need to vent his anger or frustration and so you offer your left cheek. A Zen man, on the other hand, feels nothing when you slap him, so don’t expect him to offer anything. He continues with what he was doing before. He never has to forgive anything. To feel offended or bothered and then forgive is nice; another way is to cultivate our inner spirituality so that we are not offended in the first place, either getting slapped in the face or verbally decimated, thus the saying:

    A nice man easily bothered has much to forgive and does so often

    A Zen man has nothing to forgive

  43. Jon Claerbout

    Might it be a result of you getting more popular and reaching to a broader audience?

  44. emca

    I wasn’t going to comment on this this thread, but the certain comments suggesting reader “input” are similar to that employed by KOS and set off my red (or Orange) alert. Posting of comments is not a popularity contest , but are ideally ones that shed additional light or provide further insight or can generate future discussion on the main post they reference. Be that as it may, it is up to Yves to select what she feels appropriate or not. It is her blog, and in my mind she continually demonstrates the good management and style in presentation of her site.

    In sum, in Yves I trust, all others need to pay cash.

  45. chuck roast

    Yah, Yves…
    It’s Gresham’s Law.
    It happened to CR, and now it’s happening to you.

  46. Petra

    I love reading this blog, articles and comments both…. and like a lot of you, believe that there is a big difference between reasonable debate and differences in opinion, and posts of the flame war variety. The trouble with flame war posts on forums like this (rather than youtube stupid comments for instance) is that they’re not just annoying or even amusing little side-events…. flame war rants work hard to disrupt and shut down conversation, and foul the box.

  47. Gregory

    I think anonymous comments have their place, surely, but I also agree that named comments tend toward more thoughtfully articulated points and less hyperbole or venom. Not always of course, but it’s just something I’ve noticed generally over time in a lot of places. If you were to disable anonymous comments, I think you would see an improvement but you might lose those excellent commentators who for whatever reason only post anonymously. It’s not an easy thing to commit to, so I welcome your comment about comments. Maybe it helps.

    I think there’s something else at work too. It’s just a guess, but I think some people here are getting their fiscal asses kicked and are bitter, while others who aren’t losing maybe are just incensed at the onerous developments going on. Whatever the reason, I hope these commentators can get over themselves and perhaps count to ten before typing. I’ve been sort of ‘jumped’ a couple of times in the last few weeks when I posted things anonymously and I got the distinct impression that I wasn’t jumped by jerks so much as overly stressed people. I didn’t take it personally. If anything I was saddened to feel the frustration that so many feel.

    If you go ever feel the need to disable anonymous comments, I’ll understand.

  48. confused soul

    “Yves here. Did you catch that? The price collapse is due mainly to “excessive liquidity discounts”. Please.”

    Yves, the above comment from you came during your commentary of 4:37 p.m. on “Harvard/Princeton economists”.

    You are a human being, and as such are subject to the full range of emotions, including frustration (and possibly a little anxiety.)

    The challenge, I think, is to allow people to be ‘human’ (including yourself) and as such to express their emotions. I don’t think the blog would be improved if you were to turn yourself into an automaton, or demand the same of posters.

    Perhaps what is needed is not so much more censorship, as more accountability – i.e., saying “I’m angry” or “I’m frustrated by this press release” ought to be allowed: “they’re all jerks, incompetent, criminal (etc. etc.) possibly not.

    In your case, your quote is an example of how ad hominems can be implied as well as explicit. The ‘verbal eye-rolling’ was very apparent, as was the sarcasm. And yet was not the fact that you felt provoked useful for your readers to know? This is not just a numbers crisis, it’s a human one. Emotions therefore are a legitimate part of the mix.

    And yet, and yet: Some of your guest posters risk alienating posters from the financial services industry by implying that they are damned by virtue of their occupation (“Criminal Wall St.”, etc. etc.) This would be most unfortunate, since those financial industry people are a source of important rebuttal, provided it remains within bounds.

    I’m confident you’ll find what those bounds are.

    Meanwhile I appreciate the blog and your work immensely, thank you.

    “confused soul”

  49. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Let me add to what Bob Sharpe wrote.

    Idea-ette (a small idea)

    Same root
    Same meaning
    Same pronounciation

    Conclusion: Think big or be an idiot.

  50. Yves Smith

    Confused soul,

    I suggest you Google “ad hominem attack”.The comment that you chose to discuss at length was most assuredly NOT an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem is a denigration of the person making the attack, not the argument.

    Saying an argument is idiotic is not the same as saying an individual is an idiot, or an economic illiterate, or a [pick your favorite ideological pejrorative].

    I was quite clear in nixing personal attacks, not robust, even heated, discussion of information and ideas.

  51. Anonymous

    Yves, RE your reply on Anon of 1:31 AM, I think it’s only fair if you do not just interpret his comment here, but repost the comment so others would get an idea what do you think is not acceptable. You can also post the IP address right after Anonymous to keep people honest and behave. I would also suggest to start a forum so people could post and debate whatever they want.

    Keep it up.

  52. Evelyn Sinclair

    A little perspective: Not only is this one of the most valuable blogs around, in my opinion — I’ve searched very widely, and this is the one I keep coming back to again and again — the commenters tend to be a particularly erudite, insightful bunch.

    The quality of the comments here is very high relative to the web in general.

    The reason I read comments is when an article is intriguing enough that I want further discussion on it — either I’d like to see what others have to add, or perhaps I can contribute. I may go to URLS supplied by commenters here and learn valuable new things.

    By contrast, I sometimes find interesting articles at Informationclearinghouse but the comments must be waded through in hip-boots to find a very few nuggets.

    Maybe the un-sensationalistic tone of Yves’ writing is just attractive to “geeky” types who think shredding an article with devastating logical analysis is exciting fun. That looks dry and way too complicated to the ALL CAPITAL LETTERS crowd: they mostly get bored and go away.

    — That said, it is surprising that it is necessary to explain in detail the difference between attacking an idea and attacking a person. Maybe the suggestion should be, “If you’re not sure — don’t.”

  53. Anonymous

    How about limiting comments to 100 words or less? Who wants to read someone’s manifesto or mindless rant? Thanks for a blog that keeps it real. ‘Nuff said.

  54. highcastle


    As a long time reader, I too have noticed the quality of the comments degrading noticably. It was the insightful posters (usually with longer comments, not the one-liners) that brought the most value to your site, as they were the ones that could see weaknesses in arguments, or capture key points that were not as initially reveiling to others.

    As other commenters have mentioned, the increased traffic to the site will inevitably bring in a larger number of people will always feel they need to comment or say something. It is just a newer manesfestation of the ‘Me Too!’ personality from the older BBS/IRC days. Perhaps you should create a webpage (and link) with an outline of some guidelines you would desire of your commentors, e.g., Stay on topic, No ad hominem attacks, etc.

    On the whole, I think you have done a wonderful job with the blog. The guest posters, while having a different writing style, bring in a certain tone that complements what you write. If there was anything I would change, I would only request that there be less focus on mainstream headline news items, and more posts regarding the analysis of the consequences of certain decisions or trends. I think that if you focus on that, the comments will be more conductive to the exchange of ideas and will also be of higher quality.

    Also, I hope that you will keep the Anonymous option around. While I don’t personally use it, there are good reasons for having it around for people who would otherwise not be willing to post or share some inside/insightful information.

    Thanks much,

  55. confused soul


    I took you up on your suggestion.

    You are correct, it seems I was confused (so you now know I at least come by my moniker honestly.) To wit, I confused the ad hominem with the appeal to ridicule, in which a challenge is made of one’s credentials or maturity.

    To call an argument idiotic qualifies as an appeal to ridicule, since it is a way of making the argument appear ridiculous, i.e. worthy of scorn. But calling an argument idiotic doesn’t illustrate WHY the argument is invalid. Thus, while not an ad hominem, it nonetheless fails as a logical device but is instead an emotional one. But ack, human beings are emotional creatures, so such arguments, not to mention lapses into curtness or rudeness, are to be expected from time to time.

    That said, I didn’t mean to dismiss anyone’s concerns about rudeness, least of all yours, Yves, but if I came across as insensitive, I do apologize. (I apologize for my verbosity as well, but at this stage the disease is well advanced and not likely to go into remission anytime soon…..)

  56. Yves Smith


    You make a good point that labeling an argument as dopey without giving an explanation is not sufficient. Agreed.

  57. Anonymous

    shadow banking is pretty exciting now as well… we have chosen to hand 2trillion+ cash to tide over awful assets… GE is in trouble, the banks most likely still are as well… i have a hard time understanding how the media finds inflation so attractive especially when we are carrying record defecits in our dirty little secret… its not one thing or another, people could starve if we arent all poorer because of terrible management of our wealth… but the banks will have record profits or else

  58. Anonymous

    high prices and credit dont solve problems that involve crushing debt… unless crushing debt is what you need all the credit for so that you can have ‘nice things’

  59. redst8r

    I concur with those who agree on removing anonymous comments.
    a) they are difficult to follow in a thread
    b) id’s are useful in evaluating comments from post to post
    c) hiding behind “anonymous” because you have something to protect is ripe for abuse
    d) I read comments at Wonkette and was amused and repelled at the sexually violent and profane comments from the liberals who frequent that site. Anonymity encourages fools to speak and enables cowards to hide.

    Please delete away as you see fit. I did think Kitten’s idea of a trashbin useful though.

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