A Comment on Comments

If you are one of those readers who only looks at posts, you are missing out on half the value of Naked Capitalism, since we have a lively and (for the most part) civil and intelligent group of commentators.

Having said that, I try to be as non-interventionist as possible, but as I have also indicated, certain behaviors are not acceptable (see Barry Ritholtz’s policies on comments; I consider them to be web standard and hew to them, but I am no where near as aggressive an enforcer as Barry is).

Some readers may have notice of late that sometimes comments go into moderation. Two things lead to that. One is there are certain triggers; regular commentors who are in perfectly good standing may accidentally run afoul of them. Those get approved if there is nothing amiss about the substance of the comment, although your remark may sit in limbo if you happen to weigh in when I am off the grid.

A second type of comment that will go into limbo if if the writer has adopted that ineffable quality known as ‘tude. I’ve gotten good at catching people with ‘tude (as in the sort of remark that signals a persistent posture, as opposed to a mere display of snark, which can be used to good effect if not overdone). They tend to make comments with limited to no value added and have a greatly exaggerated sense of self importance.

Now a lot of people make less than stellar comments now and again; nothing wrong with that, we all have our better and worse days. But people with ‘tude want to be noticed or win at all costs more than engage in a discussion or try to persuade others. For instance, typical ‘tude practices are to copy pretty much the same comment multiple place in a thread, or engage in broken record (basically repeating the same argument, not giving substantive responses to rebuttals) or make only ad hominem attacks even after they are told what they are and encouraged to refrain. And putting in phony e-mail addresses does not predispose me in your favor if you look like a borderline case.

So I’ll put someone in moderation if I suspect they have ‘tude, because I have seen that ‘tude sucks the air supply out of a thread. And nine times out of ten, the person tagged for that reason continues to exhibit the same behaviors that led him to be removed from the conversation in the first place.

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  1. Jay Courtright

    I don’t know if “enjoyed” is the right word (I enjoy a good meal, I enjoy the cool side of the pillow), but I read Econned and enjoyed it! It’s in my office sitting in the stack of books I keep for ready reference when I’m trying to understand the world of economics. Thank you.

  2. georgehants

    Lets see what abuse this brings up for you to moderate.

    Prosperity for all is to stop finding ridiculous, pointless jobs for people and transfer them to worthwhile jobs in health, education, leisure etc. and earlier retirement and shorter working time.

    Every job lost to higher productivity should be celebrated, not mourned, looked at as a measure of success not something to fear.

    People are forced to work in wasted careers in finance etc. purely to keep a fatally flawed system afloat.

    Productivity and technology instead of fulfilling the above, is being totally wasted, because economics can not integrate them into an obvious improvement to peoples lives.


  3. Richard Kline

    Capice. You are amongst the most moderate moderators in the game, to me, Yves, so the immoderate level of activity it takes to elict ‘other measures’ here is indicative of need.

    And for those out there who have strong personal positions, the better you get at making _supported arguments_ for them, the more success you will have, whether or not others eventually agree with you conclusions. Get good at making good points and good things happen: everybody learns something. Want to spout? You’re standing on a trapdoor, it would appear; jumping up and down isn’t in your best interest.

  4. F. Beard

    They tend to make comments with limited to no value added and have a greatly exaggerated sense of self importance. Yves

    That could be me. Just send me an email and I’ll be gone.

  5. Pixie

    The problem is that you react often virulently to comments that don’t happen to conform with your world-view. You’re not really supportive of debate and you use different rhetorical devices to deligitimate different opinions (eg calling them ‘tude – but that’s only the most recent example).

    That’s fine – it’s your website and you can prefer echo-chamber to debate – but let’s then not pretend that you welcome comments to solicit different perspectives.

    I like your links, however.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      What if her worldview is reality?

      [In all seriousness, if you don’t think there is legitimate and healthy debate in the comments section on this site, I could hardly consider you less credible. Anyway, cheers!]

    2. liberal

      The problem is that you react often virulently to comments that don’t happen to conform with your world-view.


        1. russell1200

          A typical Yves response that disagrees with the post is to claim that you did not read the post, or the article she was referencing: even if you comment on and quote from said item. I like Yves well enough, but her comment dialog behavior is one of her weak points.

    3. Deus-DJ

      Pixie: you are partially correct as I have noticed this myself, but I see it as a welcome change to other forums with strict rules. Here, if you make a shitty argument devoid of empirical results(which generally means exhibiting ideology) and you’re a dick you get warned. I like that, and it honestly keeps ALL of us honest…it just so happens those enamored with ideology can’t be honest, which is why they don’t post as often as others do.

  6. Jim the Skeptic

    I enjoy the posts and the thoughtful comments on this site more than any other site I visit.

    IMHO if you lowered you level of moderation, the comment section would quickly degrade to what I see on other sites. Bad commenters actually seem to drive out the thoughtful ones.

    IMHO if you raised your level of moderation, then political correctness would start to take over. (Self censorship more than yours.) I like your compromise, and I’m sure it’s not easy.

    I try not to stray across the line, but it’s your website, so you are the Judge. Just let me know.



    I agree with everything you said, keep up the good work and the information flowing…. I was especially intrigued by the series of comprehensive posts you did on the foreclosure mess. You picked up on it well before most of the other players in this medium did. And I think that you deserve a great deal of credit for bringing this important and critical matter to the forefront in the MSM and the American conscience.

    You, Barry, Tyler, Hellasious, Mish, just to name a few, serve a critical purpose to our democracy in these questionable times of transition.

    Many thanks,


  8. maynardGkeynes

    Yves, this is quite instructive, but I’m still unclear about what you mean. I read Barry’s rules, and even those seem to be more of the “I know it when I see it” type, which is a fair standard for him to impose as blog owner but still not all that instructive to commenters. But I’d also like to ask for guidance in a positive sense — what makes for an effective comment. I can certainly think that a major one is the same thing that makes for a good letter to the editor, something I learned when I was editing LTTE for a newspaper — new information, gleaned from a unique perspective, or at least from a perspective unavailable to the author of the main entry, which she therefore could not have taken adequately into account in formulating her post/article. Example, “I was in the X agency when the decision on Y that you refer to in you article was made, and what is not generally known is Z.” Can you or others suggest other things that would advance discussions? I think that is what most of us are here for, even when we make more or less ineffective comments. I hope this is not one of them….

  9. Psychoanalystus

    I’m sure my tendency toward irony and anecdotal comments has put me on the ‘tude list. Nonetheless, the articles are great and many of the comments outstanding. I can say with confidence that I have enjoyed this site.

    As far as phony emails goes, last summer I set up an account for blogs only, but recently realized I have been mistypimg it all along (“psychoanalysis” instead of “psychoanalyst”) — sorry about that, folks.


  10. Chris

    Can you name names? Email the person or persons?

    The last thing I want to do is be a drag on the site. It’s just I’m so angry right now with everything being presented here and other places that I want to vent.

  11. Richard

    Hey, you posted my Mad Max sales pitch for AR 15 ownership as the universal American insurance policy, so a somewhat twisted sense of black humor must pass muster! I promise to shoot for a target ratio of 10 to 1 on the analysis/cynicism scale in the future.

    re analysis, I came across an interesting statistic recently. Last week the buy/sell ratio for corporate insiders
    rose to 1 buy for every 2,500+ sell orders. Quite a vote of no confidence!

    1. Psychoanalystus

      And thank you for your sense of humor. I posted some pretty whacky stuff myself in the past that obviously made it through. Heck, if anything, let us laugh our way toward Third World… and once we get there, let’s have a party… tea party, that is…


  12. Pixie

    Further to my comment above: I don’t think you can really complain about ‘tude or obnoxiousness in comments when you make ad hominem attacks on people (eg. the repeated use of the term “banksters”; the weird vendetta against Rodgin Cohen (I’m not sure what exactly he is guilty of, except that he has worked for Goldman Sachs))

    1. Deus-DJ

      that is completely irrelevant, and referring to people who almost brought down our entire economy and are helping to perpetuate the system of inequality we currently have as “banksters” is hardly improper.

  13. Siggy


    As to content, you do a good job of bring to forefront topics that are of some importance and most importantly you do your homework to present what is not some spin.

    As to comments, most are reasoned, some are idiotic and some should be redacted. Now redaction is not that easy to do. So, we have a do as best you can medium and that is fair.

  14. Bob Visser

    Please what is a ‘tude? Sounds like dude to us non-americans. Sorry we do not always understand American slang. What is wrong with the queen’s english? You also use often abbreviations that are difficult to decode. Could we may be have a type of dictionary on the side for non-natives? Anyway thanks for an interesting blog. Rgds Bob Visser

    1. Rex

      I don’t think anyone I know has used the expression ‘tude, but from the context I quickly guessed that it means attitude.

      For those who can’t work that out for themselves, there is Google, where I quickly found this —

      The same search technology can probably help with abbreviations or acronyms.

  15. carping demon

    I don’t know, Yves. I read comments on a dozen other econoblogs everyday, all of which would be familiar to you and your readership, and the civility and noise:honest opinion ratio on NC is up there with the best. Maybe you moderate more than you think you do. KUTGW.

    1. psychohistorian

      I see Yves comment moderation in line with her posting in the sense that she gives and takes no quarter. With so much BS floating these days it is difficult to parse the propaganda, let alone be politically correct about it as Pixie would have Yves do.

      Pixie, if you are still too ignorant to find rage rising within you when referring to the captains of finance for the uber rich that Yves calls banksters, I suggest you turn off your TV and apply yourself to reducing your ignorance of the real world outside what the current media spin of the day is and what acceptable responses to it are.

      You are to be commended on your comment management. If you run out of things to apply yourself to a book/paper of blog/comment development and management could fill in your spare time….(grin).

      Thanks for all you do!!!

    2. Paul Tioxon

      I am a self regulating commenter and resent your implications. External interference in the opinions I express is clearly an example of centralized planning. The blog site which edits least, edits best. And you are no exception, only in cases of breaching server security with worms, viruses or sniffers should there be any need to monitor anyone, at any time for anything. Because of the uncertainty which you have introduced into this medium, I shall hesitate to invest any more of my time introducing bold new ideas and shockingly radical pronouncements. I will consider my alternatives with the new privatized blog sites which require an annual subscription, and are clearly the wave of the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if you a foreign born national, Yves Smith, if that is yr real name.

      1. Deus-DJ

        LOL juicy material…but if you want a blog or forum that edits least this one is actually pretty darn good.

        1. Deus-DJ

          Hehe i had only read his last sentence and first two sentences, I should have read the whole thing though I suspected he was simply playing….and “irony” isn’t the word you’re looking for here, but yes he’s just playin’

      2. Skippy

        Her identity has been revealed many times, same with her history, 5 min of your time searching the obvious would clear it all up.

        Per your private / fee only blogs (cough echo chambers), well fiefdoms provide warmth and comfort to those that swing that way, no one is stopping you.

        On another note, Yves please remember that some marsupials are defective, we have a bad habit of jumping fences (taste the grass on the other side{tis good around here:}), lay about during the heat of the day and copulate (cough…mentally he he) for extended periods of time. Although we look after our young with great care, run in loose mobs, preferably over wide areas and fight only when we have no other choice.

        Skippy…backing slowly away, slowly…towards the exit…

        1. Deus-DJ

          funny note….after the first two visits I linked the bottom to aurora advisors and was like “wtf”, I was looking at it like it was a conflict of interest or some crap…I immediately had innate suspicions…anyway was worth mentioning i guess

          1. Skippy

            Been there done that and more. I guess at the end of the day we must allow *all of ourselves* the chance to evolve, to gather, experience, cross reference and disseminate information, after which we some times find our selves shredding only to start afresh.

            Personally I find that Yves is constant in her ethos / delivery but, aways leaves the door open to factual based counter arguments and in this day and world is a rarity in media.

            Skippy…disclaimer: in this format we are but photons, unable to observe others in their daily lives, left with out critical contrast. It is a learned skill one might say, too differentiate between the professional (payed or other wise) ideologists over the sharing, inquisitive, some times randy seekers of what makes things *tick* on this world. So as to protect them and theirs, and if possible those with out such understanding.

            PS. I personally avow myself to sustainable creation and protection of what makes that possible, all sophistries aside.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I actually have started moderating only recently, and my intervention is very minor. I might get 0-6 comments a day that call for moderation; most are regular readers who’ve accidentally strayed across certain trip lines.

      I also very very rarely ban people; unless the behavior is utterly outrageous (as in a no-brainer, I’ve had people go off the deep end into utterly vitriolic rants) as in it’s more typical troll stuff, I’ll run it by a third party to make sure that I’m not overreacting.

      So the main change is putting people in moderation that I might have just banned before to see if I’m being too strict or whether their bad behavior is indeed persistent.

      I will confess I’ve gotten a bit more irritable in responding myself in comments. Part of it is I think my big value added is writing new posts, so when I feel compelled to address a particular issue in comments, I feel as if I am taking time away from readers in general.

      There are some people who show up with no history of commenting here before and make suspicious arguments (as in very persistent, awfully close to the PR talking points I see used by certain firms). I may be incorrect in assuming they are official or self appointed shills, but they often look like that. The other type that triggers me is when (contra to the compliant earlier) someone attacks me (there is usual a personal element in these cases) based on a complete miscontruction or failure to read something in the post. I don’t throw out the “you didn’t read” when that isn’t accurate.

  16. Deus-DJ

    I laughed…and just so everyone knows, if you somehow think her moderation is strict whatsoever let it be known that I persistently get banned for expressing my anger in almost every single forum I visit. The fact that I haven’t even gotten a warning here suggests two things: the quality of the posters is much better and probably aligned intellectually, and occasional bouts of ad hominem are generally accepted given the party being lashed at probably has a shitty argument and Yves as moderator knows it. Haha I love it.

  17. readerOfTeaLeaves

    I learn a lot in comments, and some threads in particular just boggle my mind. (For instance, the thread on outsourcing – particularly to India – just amazed me at the insight and breadth of the commenters.)

    Given that Yves has recently mentioned DNS attacks, and also given the severity of the topics being covered — including the massive fraud being uncovered in financial markets, I expect trolls to start appearing more frequently.

    I figure the trolls are a backhanded compliment to Yves.
    But it probably requires new commenting parameters.

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