Reader Notice

I commented last week on the rising lack of civility and accompanying decline in the quality of comments. I do not know if these are independent developments or not. I cannot control for the latter, but the former is disturbing and serves to drive out good observations.

In particular, I find ad hominem attacks particularly destructive, yet despite my warning, I see they are occurring at a higher level than before. In fact, one comment today slurred three separate parties. Another post attracted a number of vicious comments.

Maybe some of you enjoy this sort of thing, but I don’t. It is one thing to call out policy makers for their measures that look short sighted at best, corrupt at worst, quite another to engage in name calling. Frankly, it makes me want to quit writing altogether.

I cannot help but notice that virtually all the unacceptable comments come from Anons.

This is going to be a drag for all you responsible and regular commentors, many of whom do use handles, but I am disabling anonymous comments for the indefinite future. I am saddened at how the comment section has degraded and I hope this might help bring it back to its former level.

I know this is a pain for regular readers who are willing to use handles to identify themselves, and I know a lot of you thought many of the anonymous comments had value. I agree, and I hope many of them will decide to participate in the new format. Other bloggers highly endorse this step, and frankly, I have no other recourse save deleting comments more aggressively, which I am loath to do, both from a philosophical and practical standpoint. I trust you will understand and will register so you can continue to leave your valuable (and often funny) input and sanity testing.

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  1. Cat

    I support the change 100%. Really sorry it’s gotten ugly, hope I personally haven’t contributed to that (much).

    The center isn’t holding, as they say.


  2. Bob Goodwin


    The reason you cannot stop writing is because of the influence you bring to bear. I wrote once before that the internet may have stopped Hitler. And maybe you are the one.

    In the fog of war none of us are sure of the truth. But the bad guys are going to win unless we work at this.

    One does not chose destiny. Destiny choses you. It is not supposed to be comfortable.


  3. Lenin3


    Could you institute a system by which readers/writers of comments vote up or down comments? I know this has flaws but if a comment gets enough bad votes, it gets culled.

    Just a thought.

  4. Leo Kolivakis


    You can’t control idiots who like to post garbage using anonymous handles. I support your changes and I hope people will register a handle to keep on posting. it’s really no big deal and they can make up a name.

    In my experience, if you let things slide, they will only get worse. Case in point: Yahoo stock boards!



  5. Michael

    Do what you have to do, Yves.

    This is the problem with every single message board or forum or commenting system: once a place gets popular, it attracts idiots.

    Take a page out of Ritholz’s book and crush them!

  6. bart

    I have enjoyed reading your Blog for quite some time, its on my daily read list, however I could care less about reading comments. Most of them are a waste of my time, but thank you for your time, and your thoughtful writing

  7. Lance

    One guy (Joel Spolsky, had a great idea: annoying posters are rendered invisible. They can see their own posts but nobody else can. They get no feedback to their “griefing” (yes, ‘grief’ has been gerunded) and so they go away.

    Sometimes I assume that everyone on the Internet is an embittered 70-year-old retired furniture salesman.

    Love the blog, hope you finish your book. Watch out for repetitive stress injuries.

  8. nowhereman

    Do what you must, we’ll all probably be better off for it, just don’t stop blogging!

  9. Michael


    We have funny notions about privacy these days. My feeling is we tend to confuse a right to privacy with a right to anonymity. They simply are not the same thing.

    Look at it this way: if someone came to your door wearing a bag over their head or a mask, would you feel compelled to acquiesce to their “right to privacy”? I think not.

    I believe the best policy is transparency all the way around, just like in person, in real life.
    This might even be a good model for a new internet.

  10. BadTux

    I have a philosophy regarding abusive comments on my own blog — I just delete them without a second thought. My blog, my rules, the penguin is the only one allowed to be an a$$ on my blog, it’s called “private property” and if people disagree with my policy they can just start their own blog.

    I often disable anonymous comments too, but mostly because of comment spammers.

    Of course, I also practice the most practical way to deal with trolls — have a blog so boring and stupid that nobody wants to troll it. Not recommended unless you left your best stuff on the table three years ago and have been going through the motions ever since.

  11. rahuldeodhar

    I think this was inevitable. Sad but inevitable – hopefully the good anon commentators will not leave but get a handle and therefore we will have much better interactions!

    And there is the best part. nakedcapitalism has reached a critical mass where you also get haters. It means its huge! The progression is usually like anon blog – some followers – fan followers – public blog with haters! The crown has its thorns!

  12. JEFF

    I use to read the comments all the time, but stopped months ago because I was wasting my time reading childish rants. As posters above stated it happens to all bloggers when their popularity rises its the price of fame. I fully support the move. Keep up the great work!

  13. Richard Smith

    I hope the regulars get handles. NC wouldn’t be the same without the Doc and Skippy and others.

    I see BG has made the jump, anyway.
    Good start.

  14. Carrick

    I’m on board. I almost always post anonymous, but just because my comments are usually anecdotal, humor, etc. — peanut gallery stuff and duly ‘signed’ anonymous.
    Anonymity is nice for letting a comment stand on the strength of its reasoning alone, but the garbage that comes in through the same door isn’t worth it

  15. yoganmahew

    FWIW, I also agree with the new policy. Comments can and should be enlightening and expansive. I still remember this thread:
    And the points raised it in inform my postings on a couple of sites still.

    A big problem, to my mind, facing us with the ‘solutions’ on offer in these uncertain times is the unintended consequences of the solutions. Without sites and comment like yours, these unintended consequences would pass unnoticed until they blow up.

    Do please keep blogging.

  16. wotme wori

    Just found this today as I personally consider how to solve the same problem. It is far more interesting as a social study than a simple solution:

    Keep up the good work, and don’t give in to the “least common denominators” – that, in a nutshell is the problem with America right now.


  17. dis

    i understand your frustration and annoyance at the degradation of the comment section, but don’t give into it and quit!

    don’t stop writing. your thoughts, analysis and observation are of the highest quality and value anywhere.

  18. donebenson

    Making those of us who wish to comment to sign in is a good step, as it hopefully will reduce the number of [mostly useless] comments.

    Knowing we have to get though those meaningless statements has discouraged some of us from reading any of the comments to begin with.

  19. russell1200

    The occasional useless comment is easily skipped over when there are only 5 or 6 comments on a topic. But when you start getting 20 or more (or many in CR parlance) it just becomes too much of a time drain.

    CR comment section essentially became a waste because of the lack of policing, and they had a very strong comment section for a long time; after all Tanta originally was a commenter.

  20. Steve

    Worth saying again; you, your guests and commentators are providing a valuable public service. Plus I get high level education free of charge :-)


  21. Stefan

    Thanks for your blog. I’m a regular reader though infrequent contributor. I hope your new screening measure will create a more civil environment.

  22. mistah charley, ph.d.

    While I don’t think your blog can save the world by itself, it is on the rescue squad (maybe even the executive committee of the rescue squad) – thanks for all you do.

    I support eliminating anonymous comments, and the quest for civility. Criticize the actions, the thinking patterns, but not the essence of the person. Even Larry Summers is a good person, deep down – deep, deep, deep down. Presumably.

  23. pixsheep

    I wrote an anonymous comment recently that Yves picked me up on, and rightly. I agree that anonymity makes offensive and unhelpful comments too easy. I also strongly believe that it is up to a particular site to set its own rules, and if people don’t like it they can move on. So, fully in support. (The linked blog is a work in progress …)

  24. Tahoe

    the courage to do what is right, not what is popular. Thank you for your efforts to encourage a little more disicipline and civility to the comments section. Excellent work as always.

  25. SteveInOhio

    Oh Thank God… I thought you were going to end that post with “… and this is why I am now taking the blog private to paid subscribers only.” That would have been another hole opening up in my wallet, because your analysis is pure gold.

    Thank you for the thought and the patience you have put in with the comments. I really appreciate your articles, but second to that I appreciate the thought provoking comments of (many of) your readers.

  26. James B

    I, too, support the change. I don’t post often, but I’ve enjoyed the occasional exchanges I’ve had with other readers here over the past couple years. I hope this step helps move the comments section back toward what it was.

  27. Gregory

    I think Tahoe said what I am thinking perfectly, so I’ll play the parrot: Thanks for doing the right thing as opposed to the popular thing. While it might not stop the determined hyperbolist, disabling anonymity is a logical step, methinks.

  28. snerfling

    Yves, welcome to the big leagues. Don’t think for a moment that certain parties haven’t directed some level of funding dedicated to harassing you and distracting your attention away from the important topic(s) at hand.

    This site is no longer a hideout for in-the-know people who wish to reasonably discuss the issues facing our country. There is a critical information war being waged right now; you are merely one small target.

    I would suggest getting a better forum system like Mish and/or Denninger so that you can lock down comments and commentors before they consume too much of your energy and spirit. (You really do seem surprised and dismayed about the recent turn of events – don’t be.)

  29. Greg

    Without ad hominem attacks and a lack of civility there would never be any revolutions. The now U.S. would still be English colonies, and Cornelius Vander Starr would have never traveled to Shanghai, China to start A.I.G.

    Oh, I see where you’re going with this.

  30. Carlosjii

    snerfling at 1:18 is totally right – YOU can betcha there is a THEY
    and the disinformation from Washington the media etc is beyond dismaying.

    As Mish said today “President Obama placed his trust in the wrong person, and the president is too stubborn to change his mind or consider other ideas.”

    Likely, as O is born on Ox year

  31. Snoring Beagle

    Yves, your writing and insight is exceptional. Grace and decorum is part of your repertoire. Dear Lady this blog is yours, please do with it what you will. I will keep coming back.

  32. Hillary

    Another infrequent poster – just wanted to say this is one of my favorite blogs. I don’t always agree, but I’ve learned a lot here. Keep up the good work.

  33. Marian


    I wish CR over at Calculated Risk would maintain such discipline.

    To paraphrase the late Marilyn Chambers:
    “A hard woman is good to find.”

  34. Paul

    I rarely post comments – mostly because I can’t hold a candle to the level of many of thoughtful posters here.

    Please don’t stop writing. I’m sure I’m not the only non-commenter (is that even a word) who enjoys your wit and insight.

    Many blogs I can skim after a glass of wine. Yours I read over a cup of coffee because I just know you are going to make me think, and then wonder ‘why didn’t I see that?’

  35. Nick Baker

    Yves, I got an account just so I could say thank you for the terrific writing you’ve been doing. Your posts are among the clearest and most insightful around. When I see your name, I stop skimming and actually read what you have to say. Don’t let the anonymous jerks get you down, and thanks again!

  36. ekzept

    Disabling anonymous comments is definitely a win. I hate to delete any comment, unless it is clearly spam. The trouble with requiring sign-ins of the flavor used here is that not everyone has an account at the major blogging sites. I happen to have one at LJ, but it’s fading and consider mine at to be my current voice. Don’t know what I’ll do with my old posts at LJ.

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