On Trolls and Plants

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I’ve noticed in the last six to nine months a marked increase in new folks showing up in comments who don’t look, for want of a better word, organic. No, I don’t mean Berkeley-Bikrenstock-wearing-save-the-whales-and-wolves-and-frogs-granolaheads. I mean people who found the blog out of curiosity and decided to pipe up versus ones who look to be here strictly to pursue a narrow agenda.

Why don’t I think this change is random? First, this pronounced change happened during a period when blog traffic has increased only gradually. If I had had a sudden uptick in volume, it might be accompanied by a sudden shift in reader mix, but that does not appear to be the cause. Second, there’s a frequent occurrence of a particular type of new commentor: typically hews to very standard industry (or conservative, when I wander into purely political territory) talking points, enters the thread early, and tries to dominate conversation (as is particularly persistent). Needless to say, there are variations in this profile: some spout a lot of what looks like information (much of the time wrong or cherrypicked, but sometimes useful), while others just get louder and more abusive when they get opposition.

While there have been increasing numbers of reports of political groups and firms like HB Gary (of Glenn Greenwald/Wikileaks fame) hiring people to infiltrate blogs as a way of influencing opinion, I suspect this type is only a small minority, at most, of these argumentative posters. I suspect someone bitched about an NC post on a chatboard they frequent and they took it upon themselves to try to reeducate out readership.

The conundrum is that I don’t want to stop debate; in fact, lively but civilized discussions make for a vibrant comment section. But bullies or people who engage in broken record suck the air supply out of the conversation

Now using the Ritholtz rules, I could get rid of suspicious-looking newbies on any one of a number of grounds he relies upon, including his platypus rule:

This may be a free country, but The Big Picture is my personal fiefdom. I rule over all as benevolent dictator. 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’m not as interventionist as Barry. He likes a manicured French garden (think Versailles) while I like a more natural looking English style garden (think the northern half of Central Park). Nevertheless, gardens demand some minding or they become overrun with weeds. I prefer to put people in doubt in moderation (that means I screen and approve comments; given my weird hours, that can happen quickly or with a very big lag) and cases that are pretty clear cut get banned (neo-Nazi and racist comments are no-brainers, as well as abusiveness or persisting in other types of bad behavior after getting a warning).

But some of his standards are pretty moderate and the loudmouths frequently run afoul of them:

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.

Per the French v. English garden, I very very rarely delete a non-spam comment (link whoring, which consists of putting a URL in the comment or in the URL line, along with general uselessness or obnoxiousness, greatly increase the odds that you will be one of those rare exceptions).

I’ve been adhering to a posture formalized nicely by our Andrew (it is a bit humbling how facile these theoretical mathematicians are in articulating rule sets):

I support you banning people who act like industry plants. The tricky part is coming up with reasonable criteria for doing so without slipping into banning people who have different points of view.

It is actually a positive thing to have people with pro-industry views comment. There are bank people who might have valid points to make; sometimes people who criticize the banks make weak or overly broad arguments, and it is good to flush out other views. All of this is true EVEN IF the person making the argument is a plant.

However, once weak arguments are brought up and your readers take them apart with chainsaws, you can clearly spot plants because they stop acting like human beings. They instead repeat the same messages as before, alternating with attempts to use terms like “socialism” in order to intimidate people. If they have made the arguments they are capable of making and are reduced to trying to clog traffic on the site, they have served their purpose and should be banned.

These criteria identify X and Y [two commentors on a recent post] as plants.

Absolutely hilarious is the whining by Y about how banning Ray makes it “feel like North Korea in here.” Don’t they believe in private property? Since when is your site a public good that they should be able to occupy at will?

So in simpler terms, if you act like a plant, you will soon enough be treated like one and be rooted out. You’ve been warned!

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  1. Transor Z

    Yves, I have found that there are a few regular commenters here who act as a kind of verbose Amen Corner. IMO this is another species of weed in the comment garden. Not a big fan of manifestos of any stripe.

      1. Transor Z

        When comment “discussion” scans as dueling ideological monologues, I tune out and I suspect many others do as well. Not a false equivalence at all.

        If the shoe fits…

        1. YankeeFrank

          I call bull on the accusations against Attempter — he/she often provides important assumption-shredding and perspective shifts that elegantly crystalize the blind spots in some posts/comments, and is an excellent voice in support of morality and humanity — things sorely lacking in most economic writing. You may find Attempter’s views distasteful or too “ideological” for you, but that is like, your opinion man.

          1. DownSouth

            Yep. Anybody who Transor Z disagrees with is immediately exiled to the “amen corner,” accused of issuing “manifestos” and engaging in “ideological monologues.”

            Notice Transor Z never engages the content of anyone’s argument, but instead attacks their style or form, or their ideological positioning. Why is this so? Is it that he/she is incapable of articulating a substantive argument? Or is it that he cannot defend his position substantively, so must resort to name calling?

          2. DownSouth

            Notice also that Transor Z never comes out and brazenly accuses his ideological opponents of being a Marxist, communist or socialist.

            No, he’s way too coy for that. Like all closet right-wingers, he dances around the censure. He accuses his enemies of “manifestos,” “ideological monologues” or membership in a “Revolutionary Council,” as in this comment where he charges:

            Fine. We get it. The Revolutionary Council has convened and found Larry Summers guilty of financial cronyism and economic war crimes against the lower classes.

            But in spite of this positioning—-himself as a moderate and his opponents as fanatics—-I think most people get his meaning.

          3. attempter

            Transor’s basic lie is the Status Quo Lie, that the status quo is natural and normal and moderate, and not at all a radical ideology and policy which the government and MSM impose like a steel shroud.

            Therefore anyone who would dissent from it is obligated to comply with its own top-down dictated rules of proper discourse. To be aggressive in expressing alternative ideas on the grounds that these ideas are systematically shouted down and blacked out is invalid procedure. It’s not “civil”.

            To make a point of describing ideas which are systematically suppressed or, where they can’t be suppressed, distorted and slandered, is offensive “manifesto”-mongering.

            If on a given day the NYT aggressively propagates to millions every aspect of the neoliberal ideology, every piece telling ideological lies and/or depicting corporatism and austerity as necessities dictated by nature, while over at an econoblog attempter describes Food Sovereignty in a comment, the two are equally guilty of imposing “ideology”. In fact, attempter is worse because as a “self-appointed” commentator he’s the one really being ideological while the NYT is, after all, the paper of record, and is therefore by definition objective. (Transor’s lie is to pretend he’s invoking a plague on two equally bad houses, while he really supports the corporate onslaught, only maybe disliking its most extreme aspects.)

            So the corporate/government/MSM nexus and a handful of dissenting citizens are on the same playing field, are equally powerful, and should therefore play by the same rules. Which in practice means every one should conform.

            And I didn’t even get into the fact that this is a kleptocracy, that every word it says is a proven lie, that every policy is nothing but robbery and degradation of civil liberties, and that I and others are trying to fight for freedom and justice against these criminals.

            But since Transor’s on their side, as he’s amply demonstrated in many threads, he won’t be moved by that last point either.

          4. Transor Z

            I find Attempter’s comments to be generally thoughtful and often interesting. So there. Although I have to admit to having skimmed over his comment that began with a statement that my views represent an institutional “lie.”

            Like I said, if the shoe fits…

            Sorry, but this is a busy week representing plaintiffs and bk debtors with mortgages and stuff. I’m such a corporatist.

          5. attempter

            I perceived your comment in light of your defense of Larry Summers of all arch-criminals, and your disdainful attack on those who rightfully condemn him.

          6. DownSouth

            Transor Z,

            So let me reduced your 10:43 a.m. comment from the third link you listed to three bullet points:

            • Banks should be self-regulating

            • The federal government, along with its regulators, are beyond redemption

            • Besides a Balanced Budget Amendment, “what else can we do?”

            Those sound pretty much like the talking points of a laissez faire, small government neoliberal to me.

          7. James

            All the same, I find the piling on troubling. Censor if you must, it’s certainly your right. But don’t expect anything good to come from it in the end.

      2. Lurker

        @attempter: I’m not sure he’s talking about you or DownSouth. You are not an Amen Corner (whatever that is), and who cares whether some guy is a fan of “a public declaration of principles and intentions” (definition of “manifesto”). I think we need more declarations of principles, especially given the essentially unprincipled character of everything around us.

        I feel a bit sheepish in that I should really be doing some work that Attempter is doing with his sustained, daily critique of all things corrupt. Not really sure how he keeps up the energy, but I say, keep on keeping on.

        1. attempter

          Thanks, Lurker. It does take alot of energy.

          I took Transor’s comment to refer to us because he attacked DS and others directly and me implicitly in those same terms a few days ago, in defense of Larry Summers. Now he’s denying that, but the pattern of false equivalence and “you’re both equally bad” seems clear enough.

  2. RebelEconomist

    I think you are on a slippery slope here. The same “this is my blog” argument could be made by Berlusconi, Murdoch, Chavez or Assad. I do support removing spam or inorganically off-topic comments, but I don’t think blogs should ban any argument unless it is excessively long or repeated, or perhaps offensive to nearly everyone who might read it. You should certainly not remove one-off comments which are critical of you or which you disagree with – if you cannot answer them convincingly, that is telling you something. Even industry plants have to make reasonable arguments without alienating readers if they are to be effective.

      1. art guerrilla

        i am not an animal/troll ! ! !
        (prescript: i am not judging yves, et al *here*, because i’m a noob, and the commenting seems generally unfettered, *BUT* i am almost always gravely disappointed in the manner and degree to which -supposedly- free speech lovin’ lib’ruls (*ptui*) CENSOR posts simply for neatness sake…
        …and making the trains run on time!
        obviously, mainstream, rethug and konservative sites are ten times worse…)
        i am an absolutist on free speech, however, which is a rare bird in these times of ‘free speech zones’, and the privatization of nearly all commons…
        it is tiresome and insulting to hear otherwise ‘good’ pwogs at MOST sites defend censorship, because it is their sandbox…
        *sigh* of course it is, puddin’ pop, and you can do anything you like; but it seems kinda, sorta hypocritical to bitch about the gummint, lamestream media, etc when they CENSOR, when highly principled dem’rats, etc can not resist the siren call of the CENSOR themselves…
        IF super-defenders of our bedrock right of free speech can NOT practice it within the highly controlled, teeny-tiny confines of their own widdle sandbox, HOW/WHY does anyone expect free speech will exist *outside* such protected venues ? ? ?
        in short, it won’t: we won’t practice or defend free speech in our own living rooms, so we won’t practice or defend it in the public sphere where we have effectively lost all control and ‘rights’…
        based on a true story…
        art guerrilla
        aka ann archy

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      Your comment is full of straw men. This blog neither a country nor a media empire.

      As to your second sentence, experience shows otherwise. This blog is regularly cited as having the best comment section of any financial/econ blog, and the fact that I get rid of abusive jerks is one of the reasons why. In addition, I made it very clear I almost never delete comments, yet you treat it as if this is a major issue, which comes perilously close to maligning me. I am far less interventionist than any high traffic blog, based on the comments I’ve gotten from readers about other sites as well as from other bloggers re how often they take action.

      As to your third sentence, the very point of trolls and plants is to if at all possible engage and distract the blogger. I view my most important job as writing new posts. Expending effort on stubborn dogmatists is a waste of my time and a disservice to the community. Moreover, you miss the point, that what puts someone at risk is not the substance of their argument, as you falsely allege but their manner of argument, in that it actively undermines the caliber of conversation. People who tell me I’ve missed something important or overstated my case are very helpful to me; why would I not want to encourage that? Comments are useful in gathering information and debugging theories.

      1. Cedric Regula


        Who needs BS like that? STOP SUBLIMINAL MIND CONRTOL NOW!!!!!

        !!!!!!!!!!!!BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      2. TC

        Hi Rebel and Yves,

        Rebel, I am with Yves here. I show up rarely in the comments anymore and when I do, I sometimes lob bombs directly at Yves that are borderline offensive in tone. Yet, I am not blocked.

        This is a great place where the astonishing quality of the posts is sometimes rivaled by the amazing comments section. If she thinks someone should be banned, or have some comments blocked, she is right. It’s a space she built. It’s like her house – she can kick anyone out she wants, even if it is just because they are boring.

        I trust her judgement on what constitutes serious, interesting debate. Yves is a thought leader in finance, and one reason is she has demonstrated great willingness to engage with serious debate.

        I write for a living – specifically, I write article designed to sway opinion. I can spot techniques that I’d use in my professional writing a mile away. These trolls she mentions use these techniques all the time, in many of their comments.

      3. Eagle

        Surprised to hear this blog gets cites for its comments section, I read this blog despite the comments section – the regular commentators are frequently long-winded and off-topic, and most commentators show poor engagement with the material. One gets the distinct impression that you would have the same quality of comments posting random passages of a Hannah Arendt book.

        Among the left-of-center blogs I read, Felix Salmon generally has the best commenters (though not very many), and Mark Thoma was usually not bad.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Felix’s content section is moderated very aggressively by Reuters, which is why he has so few comments on a site which I am pretty sure has a traffic level of the same order of magnitude as NC (I know because at least twice I’ve tried posting comments there, completely innocuous stuff, no bad words that could offend a content filter, and the post has not gone up. I’ve even grumbled to Felix and sent him the offending content, and he’s been unable to fathom why it was rejected. So I don’t bother commenting there). I’m pretty sure based on our conversations that Thoma intervenes more than I do. So effectively, you are saying you prefer a more “managed” comment section.

          I agree some of the o/t or barely on topic comments can be annoying but others are very instructive. And some are very funny! I don’t get LOLs at the sites you like.

      4. jake chase

        I think you should delete anything you want to delete. No excuses necessary. Those of us who come here for information get enough conventional idiocy elsewhere.

      5. Siggy


        It’s your blog. You get to make it what ever you want it to be.

        For those who come here and don’t like it, they can leave.

    2. Dean Sayers

      As I read it, Yves has deliberately excluded herself from the actions you are warning against here. Did you even read the whole post?

    3. Francois T


      The only thing Yves is saying is this:”Don’t write on NC what would win you a bitch slap at Thanksgiving dinner with family.”

      Not that hard to do, no?

    4. Doly

      There are lots of sites with that problem: what to do about trolls? I don’t think many of them are even industry plants, because I’ve seen online communities with trolls where I can’t imagine anybody would get any benefit from trolling, except mild entertainment.

      I personally think that systems that limit the number of comments per person to a given post are the simplest way to limit trolls. It’s even better if it’s tied to the number of total comments – something like, you are allowed 3 comments or 5% of the replies, whichever is greater (or any other numbers that work for you). Because it’s the “broken record” style of trolls what is the most annoying.

    5. jonboinAR

      When the Constitution says the freedom of speech shall not be abridged, I read that as that government agencies are not allowed to curtail free speech. In your own house, or blog, you can curtail it however you like. Being a benign or not dictator on the blog you pay for (or manage to get someone to pay for, or whatever, so long as it’s a private party)bears no equivalence to running a government as a dictator, at least I don’t think it does. If she curtails comments because they fail to adhere to a point of view of which she approves, that’s not pernicious, just boring. We can finish our gin and tonics and leave.

      1. jonboinAR

        Not saying she IS boring me. Obviously she’s not. Just that should she start to bore me with excessive censorship, I have the right to go elsewhere.

  3. skippy

    Sigh…so soon…a comment that wishes to further refine rules to their own design.

    Skippy…blaze away lady, that includes my self, if I befoul your lounge.

  4. Parvaneh Ferhadi

    I can see your concern and in the end any website or blog on the web can block anyone they want. On the other hand, it seems a bit odd to encourage discussion and then to block someone just because he/she posted a tad to many times.
    I don’t follow your argument about it being a problem having ’10 out of 30′ comments from the same person. As long as they are contributing something to the discussion and it’s not comment spam.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As indicated, I seek not to ban people and do it pretty rarely (and use moderation as an alternative). However, if someone comments that frequently in a thread, it is typically the case that they’ve gotten argumentative in a bad way. It is usually the behavior of someone who has a deep seated ego/industry investment in winning, as opposed to having a discussion. That type almost always runs out of substantive points quickly and then resorts to a war of attrition and/or abuse, which sucks the air supply out of a thread absent intervention.

      I’ve had over five years of reading comments and Barry has had even longer. The rule of thumb he suggests is accurate in the vast majority of cases, whether you want to believe it or not.

      1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

        As I said, I don’t share your view on that one, because my experiences tells me something else.

        But this is your site, so follow what you think is right for you.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          To be blunt, you are in no position to judge. You have no way to tell how often I intervene in comments. For you to assert you know something you cannot possibly know is quite astonishing. On top of that, you further suggest, again based on no knowledge, that the level of intervention is excessive. And since that holds true for other sites, where you similarly can’t tell what level of intervention is taking place (but per my post, my conversations with other bloggers lead me to believe I’m more hands off than most), that means you aren’t looking at a valid sample. You are seeing comment sections that reflect the blogger’s policies re comments. That means, almost without exception, the times you do see 10 comments by a single person out of 30, it’s because they passed muster. You don’t see the times when (say at Barry’s) comments were deleted, or the person after 8 comments out of 20, three of which were useful and the next five were ugly and repetitive, was put in moderation.

          Or is your argument that no intervention is warranted? The experience of every other site with meaningful traffic says otherwise. In case you somehow missed it, there are a lot of crazies on the Web.

      2. Random Commentator

        In my case, I prefer to post 10 very short comments directly responding to individual arguments, as opposed to 1 really long comment containing all my views.

    2. Jessica6

      In my experience, blogs sometimes end up with someone who has an axe to grind and won’t let go even after being discredited by other posters. It’s like they need to get the last word in no matter what and sometimes it’s a subject that doesn’t even relate to the original post.
      Personally I find it annoying when I read blog comments and all it seems to be is some back and forth between two people, wishing it could be taken elsewhere.
      Also, bloggers that allow that kind of behaviour find that once those sorts of commenters dominate it drives away the higher quality posters. The weeding analogy is entirely appropriate.

  5. Name (required)

    To mount my particular hobby-horse (and risk Yves knocking me off it) I am a subject of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II &tc and proud of it, and I believe in the Monarchy.

    A monarch can and should have precious qualities no written constitution can possess. Another thread on NC today referred to the almost unique treatment of the Jews in Denmark during WW2 – a response to Nazi persecution which was lead by the King himself and around which the general Danish population consolidated, and which I suggest no other institution could have effected. The restoration of the Monarchy established constitutional stability and authority to the UK in 1660 and Spain in 1975. While often seen as simply a cypher or figurehead Queen Elizabeth has an ultimate constitutional power no UK Prime Minister can ignore or be seen to flout, and the intelligence and wisdom regarding the exercise of such power possessed by a human being no written constitution can display.

    Yves is the Queen of this site, and I say we must respect and trust her to ‘do the right thing’ as she calls it from moment to moment in every kind of unpredictable situation just as I do my Queen. I may not always agree with her, but I will support her because, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “It has been said that Monarchy is the worst form of constitution, except all the others that have been tried.”

  6. sleeper

    This is a tough one.

    While I despise the trolls and plants (which by the way abound in MSM – most any commentator) and it is good to see them gone.
    The real pitfall to beware of is that if we always hear the samething soon we see it as a right – most senators fall into this trap a sort of noblesse oblige.

    Please be careful

  7. notmyrealname

    I wouldn’t normally find myself speaking up in favour of industry plants, but to balance the argument just a little bit: I once read a comments section where someone who was pretty obviously an industry shill posted several very long and forceful comments and was systematically rebutted in an extremely intelligent manner by another commenter, until the argument was very clearly won and the industry shill finally just gave up. You could argue that intellectual truth will out, and perhaps need to credit your readers with enough intelligence to spot industry shills – and rebut them. (Alternatively you could just delete evidently obnoxious posts quietly… I’m not sure it needs a song and dance…)

    1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

      I guess there is a fine line to thread here and avoid the temptation to label people who post a view that is not in line with your believes an ‘industry plant’ or ‘troll’.

      With the former, you can successfully argue if you have your facts straight – it will become obvious at some point that they are just repeating talking points and not really discussing anything, while with the latter, well, don’t feed the troll.

      So personally I don’t see the need to block someone unless and until he or she becomes abusive and repeatedly so.

    2. j m kochevar

      yeah…i think it’s best that the players (commenters) take care of their own locker room; and, by in large, i think NC’s commenters do that. and if ms. smith ever oversteps her benign dictator role, there are other sites to go to…

  8. Patricia

    Fine post, Yves. Every social event carries a basic structure and you’ve long established yours with generous room for nuance and surprise.

    Your site, including the comment section, is a daily pleasure for me. And I’m just an artist! Thanks.

  9. DownSouth

    Could it be the invasion of the “Four Minute Men”?

    Woodrow Wilson, the liberal Democrat (In his first term, Wilson persuaded a Democratic Congress to pass major progressive reforms including the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act and an income tax.), narrowly won his reelection campaign in 1916 on a platform of keeping the United States out of WWI. He based his re-election campaign around the slogan,”He kept us out of war.” (see Wikipedia) However, once reelected, Wilson immediately took a 180° turn.

    The filmmaker Scott Noble does a superb job describing the no-holes-barred propaganda campaign, accompanied by a brutal wave of police suppression of political dissent, which Wilson orchestrated in order to justify his flip-flop. It is included in his documentary film called Psywars, which can be viewed here.

    Wilson hired George Creel to head up the propaganda war against the American people, and the part dealing with war propaganda starts at minute 26:40. The following is especially germane to this thread:

    George Creel described his work with unabashed enthusiasm. It was a plain publicity proposition, a vast enterprise in salesmanship, the world’s greatest adventure in advertising. Seventy-five thousand civil leaders known as Four Minute Men were assembled to deliver pro-war messages in churches, theaters, and civil groups. Periodicals were sent to 600,000 teachers. Boy Scouts delivered copies of President Wilson’s addresses to households across America.

    1. Dean Sayers

      Tom Ferguson has a narrative about Wilson’s election which emphasized very different points, in part that Wilson was backed by southern wealthy landowners… don’t have the energy to run downstairs for my book, though. In short, I find arguments that place presidential elections on dramatic things like wars as more hype than material. The money flow has to say more, and more convincing things.

      1. Nathanael

        Either way, Wilson was a master of abusing propaganda to deceive the American public.

        And it didn’t really work. He was so hated afterwards that Republicans won control of the White House for 12 years. Unfortunately, Wilson managed to discredit progressive taxation along with discrediting the various evil things he had stood for.

    2. Anonymous II

      There’s also Upton Sinclair’s book on his candidacy for
      Governor of California in the 1930s and all the dirty
      tricks used against him. The book by Sinclair is called:
      “I, candidate for governor: and how I got licked”.
      The theme for his campaign was EPIC,
      “End Poverty in California”.

  10. notmyrealname


    The problem is, you can’t defeat what you describe as the “four minute men” by advocating censorship. Censorship is after all part of what they practice.

    The only hope against totalitarianism (and I think it can take a long time for people to realise they are part of a totalitarian system) is for enough residual intelligence (of a non-sociopathic variety) to remain in a population to allow propaganda to become discredited.

    Censorship does not promote knowledge (except,sometimes, inadvertently through rarity value…)

    1. DownSouth


      There’s a difference between censorship and laying down some basic ground rules for debate. If you don’t have rules, it rapidly degenerates into mindless cacophony. The public hearings on health care come to mind.

      It’s a close call, perhaps more of an art form than anything else. But Yves seems to have the touch, given the continued success of her comments section.

  11. Barry Ritholtz

    Think of yourself as the conductor of the orchestra, or a leader of a jazz combo. A little freeform improvisation is great for the piece, but if someone want to start playing the Dead Kennedys while you are conducting Pachabel, its up to you to get them in tune and on beat.

    The key is encouraging debate while not heading too far afield.

    My biggest peeves are those folks who, after you spent 3 hours researching and writing a post, ignore what you have stated and launch into their jeremiad. They don’t care about what you have written or what the discussion is, they are trying to free ride on your traffic. (Unpublish. Buh-Bye)

    As to the plants from PR groups and think tanks, that is very real. IP Addresses and server logs don’t lie!

    1. Francois T

      “As to the plants from PR groups and think tanks, that is very real. IP Addresses and server logs don’t lie!”

      Like Da Master sez!

      As to “why now?” allow me to engage in some loose-associations thinking based on recent observations:

      NC, as a blog, is on the cusp of enter into the established media league. Try as they may, no matter how much they wish you away, establishment journalists cannot indefinitely ignore grade-AAA informed comment. Yves’s yeoman (can we say yeowoman?) work on the fraudclosure scandals and her first mover advantage on the Magnetar shit (for which she still being denied recognition) And let’s not talk about her dead on predictions about the Obama Administration behavior (an exercise in bending over so far that they could see their own hindquarters) toward the banksters.

      Now, on the Net, a good blogger is only a particular set of circumstances away from significant media exposure. You know something about that Barry, don’t ya? :-)

      My hunch is that some people don’t want to see that happen to Yves. She’s far too independent, knowledgeable and possess a rather impressive set of contacts in DC and high finance; in other words, she can’t be easily dismissed. Combine to all this a peculiar tendency to puncture bullshit, and you have someone who could be, if not a threat, at least a colossal annoyance to the officialdumb messaging machine.

      Hence, the trolls and the plants; a preemptive strike, sugar in the carburetor, a punctured tire or two, send the party crashers and the obnoxious Joe Blow.

      Barry’s right; Give’em Hell Yves!

  12. ben there done that

    I lost interest because of the shilling, linking, and turn it up louder antics. Thanks for re-iterating the rules and I am glad to be back.

  13. pezhead9000

    It’s your playground – you set the rules. The ideological monologues – to a certain extent – can help us all challenge our own thinking. Do you want a natural garden? Do you like the splendor of nature or do you want a controlled environment with a degree of censorship – it’s your blog.

  14. Maracatu

    My experience is that conservatives are just as likely to ban (and probably even more-so) if you don’t tow their line or willingly serve as their punching bag.

    Press on!

  15. Sufferin' Succotash

    True statements are true and false statements are false, regardless of the motives of those who make them.
    Someone can state that Milton Friedman made valuable contributions to monetary theory from the worst possible motives, but that statement remains true.
    Someone else can state that Milton Friedman deflowered sheep by the light of the full moon from the best possible motives but that statement remains false (I think).
    Jest sayin’…

    1. DownSouth

      Sufferin’ Succotash said: “True statements are true and false statements are false…”

      Whew! If life were only so simple.

      1. Lurker

        It’s true that most comments are some combination of speculation, distrust, unquestioned assumptions, ideological bias, reading-between-the-lines, wild-ass guessing, snark, things other people said, appeals to authority, and misapplied rules of thumb.

        But occasionally, someone will say something of a purely factual nature expressly or impliedly gotten from personal experience. If someone is falsifying that, or being intentionally misleading about the circumstances, then they are trolling. For some things, there really is the difference between the truth and a lie.

        1. DownSouth

          So Sufferin’ Succotash said, “Milton Friedman made valuable contributions to monetary theory from the worst possible motives, but that statement remains true.”

          So is that statement the truth or a lie?

          I suppose it all depends on what one’s definition of “valuable contributions” is.

          1. attempter

            Yes. Monetarism is a political policy which has no truth value other than within the context of imposing it. It’s true or false in the same way e.g. anti-Semitism is true or false.

            It’s “true” (and therefore Friedman made “valuable contributions”) only from the point of view of those using it to wage class war, and probably from the point of view of every kind of feckless reformist who may subjectively deplore the class war but is objectively on the side of the aggressors, since he still accepts the system as a whole.

            From every other point of view it’s false and malicious.

        2. DownSouth

          And Lurker, I do get the gist of what you’re saying. I just don’t think it applied to what Sufferin’ Succotash had to say about Milton Friedman.

          For a great discussion on this there’s Paul Boghossian’s book Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism. He essentially makes the same point you do.

  16. Pearl

    I am relieved to know that trolls and plants are your primary concern. Now that I know that stoopid people do not concern you as much–I will start commenting more frequently! I read Naked Capitalism every day, but I do not feel particularly qualified to comment here. Nevertheless, I have so many questions that I believe could be answered by Yves and her faithful (non-troll/non-plant) readers.

    So, as neither troll nor plant–if I could get some basic information cleared up, I feel that I might be able to contribute more meaningfully to the discussions here.

    The following are two Securities-related questions that have stumped me for some time.

    Question one. Regarding RMBS Trusts that are listed on the SECinfo site. About 6 months or so after the trust’s closing date, a Form 15 is filed. (Suspension of duty to report.) What happens to the trust at that point? Does it continue on, or is dismantled–with the remaining loans shuffled into new trusts? Is there a definitive “ending date” for an RMBS trust–a date that represents when the trust ceases to exist?

    Question two. I found a trust that is registered and indexed with the SEC under one name, but is then, apparently, referred to by another throughout the “life” of the trust. Perhaps this started out as a typo-I honestly do not know–but it has resulted in the trust being somewhat “invisible” to investors and other interested parties. I have people being foreclosed upon in the name of a trust that, technically, was never registered as a security with the SEC. On a scale of “nothingburger” to “that trust does not legally exist”–how big of an issue is this?

    And, thanks in advance to anyone who can help me! (btw, I called and spoke with a nice lady at the SEC, but she seemed a bit fuzzy on what an RMBS was. Naked Capitalism is my only hope!)

    1. Cedric Regula

      The only answer I can provide is the last one…until recently, the SEC treated RMBS as a commodity and/or a derivative. That would put the regulatory responsibility on either the OCC or Chicago Mercantile Exchange, subject to them accepting the mission.

      So that would be why SEC employees are not yet familiar with the instrument.

      Your other questions are interesting, but I obviously have no clue what the answer may be. Maybe someone else does.

      1. Pearl

        Thanks, Nathaniel. The trust is an IndyMac Trust, so it is hard to give IndyMac the benefit of doubt! (Even if I should.) ;-)

        Should I send the two conflicting names to Yves, privately? (If so, how would I go about doing that?)

    2. Nathanael

      On #2, if it appears to be a genuine typo, it’s probably not a big deal, I’m afraid — it’s just an “a.k.a.” — although you SHOULD still bring it up and ask repeatedly whether the two names really refer to the same trust. If the two names are wildly different, you probably are on to something, as it may be evidence of wilful securities fraud, and in any case nobody could possibly be expected to associate the two unrelated names.

      #1 is much more interesting, and I’ve no idea what the answer is.

    3. Pearl

      Thanks, Cedric Regula–I had no idea that RMBS would have ever been overseen by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange or the OCC. But it certainly sheds some light on several conversations that I have (tried to have)with the SEC!

      1. TomOfTheNorth

        Neither CME (regulated by CFTC) nor OCC (regulated by SEC) handle any aspect of RMBS nor have regulatory authority over RMBS. Neither too does the CFTC. RMBS are not ‘commodities’ nor are they ‘LISTED derivatives’.

  17. Jessica

    I am grateful to Yves and to Barry Ritholtz for taking on the task of trying to hold space open for honest, serious discussion.
    Such space is vital and does not just happen on its own, not for long anyway. Particularly not in these times, when the voice of the moneyed tries so hard and with so much support to drown all intelligent discussion with stupidity and noise.

  18. ambrit

    Dear Smiths (pun intended);
    There is another class of poster out here: Those of us who are struggling through the self educational stage of things. Some of your posters obviously take time and effort to make informed comments. We in the Third Way learn a lot from them. They fill a demonstrable purpose, expand the scope of the discussion and educate. Even Trolls do that as an earlier comment pointed out. Your point of departure seems to be when the Trolls show malicious intent. This is rational on your part and can only be attacked, not disproved. Kudos.
    As for the egoes writhing in torment comment, this humble commenter pleads nolo contendre. Herein lies one of the ‘unexpected consequences’ of the “Smart Blogs.” Lots of times I’ve sat pondering the screen, questioning my own motives for comments I intended to post. Often times I’ve just deleted the comment and moved on. It seems to be what Henry Miller noted, that a lot of his writing was therapy.(It would be nice to see a tome about the “Tropic of Wall Street.”) So, feel virtuous O Smiths! You write finer then you know.
    In an almost counter intuitive way this blog is a public utility.
    Thanks for letting me rant yet again. I do appreciate it.

  19. Sunil


    First, Nakedcapitalism is wonderful – love it.

    Two suggestions to keep trolls and implants out –

    1. Limit the size of the text box to 1000 characters. The bard has reminded us: “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Make your case, this is not your soap box.

    2. Program a gap of at least one hour between two comments/ responses. Think and then make your case.

    We have pretty good rules for social/ face to face interactions. We need good and effective ones for our online communities too.

    And once again, thanks for everything you do. (531 char)

    1. Thorstein

      1,000 is not enough! I very much value the thoughtful, longer arguments presented by many NC commenters.

  20. Aristophon

    I think I’ve only made a short comment or two regarding cats on this site …;)

    Yves, your rules seem fair and sensible to me. My own problem with some comments is their snooze-inducing length, particularly in the “political” threads.

    Perhaps a good rule of thumb for people who post on this site: If your replies are running to essay length you are doing something wrong.

  21. Ishmael

    Yves it is your sand box and you should set the rules. If someone does not like it let them play in some other sand box.

    Now many here would say I am far more conservative than most who post, I find many of the articles interesting and especially enjoy information in the links which I would not normally ferret out.

    The discussion of Wilson above made me cringe. He should be known as our worse president. The man who signed the Federal Reserve Act and put this country on the road to empire. His name should be removed from the history books!

  22. But What Do I Know?

    This is a great blog, Yves, and I for one trust your judgment to decide on how to keep it that way. Thanks for all you do.

  23. Marchettus

    This is my first post to Naked Capitalism and I’ve been reading for a year and a half. I have to say that I’ve felt like in many cases the comment section is the best part of the blog. Keeping a high level of discussion is the biggest advantage this blog has over other blogs. If you think the comments are too much of an amen chorus you should look over zero-hedge and compare. Most blogs comment sections are like junk food-bad for you but too easy choose.

    I am an undergraduate student and read this blog every day along with two others. The perspective that you get from it, and the focus on the foreclosure issue has been wonderful for developing my perspective.

  24. mitchw

    I only read comments for the what sticks out and gets to the point quick. The rest never reaches my memory. I say let them shill a little, but keep them short.

  25. Jennifer Hill

    No, I don’t mean Berkeley-Bikrenstock-wearing-save-the-whales-and-wolves-and-frogs-granolaheads. I thought you cared. But I’ll still read and comment and FB share when my magical brain tells me to.
    You rule Yves.

  26. Jessica

    In actually existing capitalism, this is your sandbox to do with as you will. However, I see you acting more like a steward, responsible for something that is created here by many, rather than as an owner. That helps move us toward a better world.

  27. Fraud Guy

    As an infrequently heavy commenter (basically on card processing, where I have had years on the merchant edge of the business), I would say the trolls on that thread were management sales types, believing the b.s. that they sell to the clients.

    I don’t want to see the comments go the way of Balkinization (gone and sorely missed); there, the proprietors felt that the give and take of discussion wore too much.

    Sometimes that are people that you genuinely disagree with, but whom you still can have a conversation with. But at the same time, there are those who shill on purpose. It’s a fine line to decide between obdurancy and paid advocacy (NAR spokespeople, anyone?).

    So if you were to limit us to 1000 words, even bound in that nutshell I should be able to count myself the king of infinite space. Should the trolls appear, and I o’erstep their bounds, though the field be lost, all is not lost; the inconquerable shill, and study of reply, immortal wait, and courage never to submit or yield. Lay on, McFly, and damned be he who cries hold, enough!

  28. Miles Runs the Voodoo Down

    I love the site, read it daily. Might I suggest you read Claud Shannon’s 1947 world changing paper “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” for guidance on building a model for when pulling the plug on noise sources may be necessary?

  29. Cahal


    I’d be really interested to see you do a post critiquing the Austrian school. Their constantly unchallenged ‘we are right about everything’ is pretty irritating and it always seems to end up derailing comments.

    1. Pixy Dust

      Agree 100% Cahal!
      What’s more, they seem to believe that humanity is just an annoying byproduct of an economy, not the fundamental purpose of it.

  30. McPhilip

    Like you said, it’s your blog, not some democracy. Over the years I’ve given up on reading comments on pretty much every site I visit. Not much of value was lost…

  31. dejauvuagain

    It would be appropriate for those commenters on this site who in fact are being compensated directly or indirectly by companies or interest groups to come onto this site would be so candid as to disclose whom they represent and/or who is paying them. [Same is true for the so-called guests on cable tv shows.]

    Clearly some of these trolls are doing this as part of their job – most of us comment without compensation.

    For example, were someone from the Fed or the OCC or GE or Cigna or AIG or Goldman or Geithner’s office to troll this site, they should at least disclose their affiliation. If not, they should just not complain when then are “censored.”

  32. roger

    What you are doing is editing and refusing – which is what any newspaper or magazine does. Anybody who has ever written for money knows that what they write will be edited, and that it can even be rejected, and that is the name of the game. Commenting is an excellent thing, but it is not a promise by the blogger to print anything at all. Comments, after all, are part of the entire blog, and you select and edit that blog.

    To compare this, as someone did up the line, to political dictatorship shows absolute no conception of how publishing works. Try going onto your favorite newscast or talk show with your opinion, and tell the bouncer or person who rejects you that this is just like Hugo Chavez. They will be unimpressed. What is cool about blogging is that it has a strong interactive component, but that doesn’t mean anything goes.

  33. Steve

    As a defender of liberty, I respect Yves’ right to do what she wants to do with her website. But it would be a shame to purge people with differing political, social or economic views.

    I have learned a lot on this site from left-wing, “Progressive” etc. people with whom I (obviously) disagree. Our society is based upon the “marketplace of ideas”. What most of us seem to have in common is a frustration with the status quo and a fervent desire to improve society.

    That’s a pretty good starting point for intelligent dialogue.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      What most of us seem to have in common is a frustration with the status quo and a fervent desire to improve society.

      That’s a pretty good starting point for intelligent dialogue.

      I’m probably of a rather different perspective than Steve politically, but I definitely share frustrations about the status quo, and share that ‘fervent desire’ to see some improvements to our current woes.

      I think the ‘gardening’ metaphor for blog comments is a good one, and try to respect the blog guidelines, because this blog is a tremendous public resource.

      I’ve learned a great deal from the posts, as well as the commenters at NC.

      Trolls may be showing up due to the new accolades that Yves has been receiving this past year or more; I tend to take the trolls as a barometer of the threat that a post, or comment, makes to the status quo. In that sense, trolls have some utility: the nastier they are, and the greater their number, the more a status quo money-pot is afraid of losing its free rent status ;-)

      Although I hate to think of Yves’ having to spend even five minutes ‘weeding’ troll comments, I’ll take it as a sign that this blog really is making a difference. Although the insulting trolls are a darkly ironic form of compliment and more work for Yves, it is an odd sort of silver lining IMVHO.

      And now, back to the main page to see what other posts Yves has germinating… ‘Tis a great, wonderful garden we all benefit from here, so thanks again, Yves.

  34. pebird

    We are your guests here. You have created and maintain a spece at no cost to us, providing a sorely needed service. I believe you have been very tolerant, alowing a wide range of opinion. Everyone needs to rant now and then, and you let us do that. Thanks for doing this work.

    It is tough to determine who is what, especially in the case of plants, but I trust your judgment.

  35. steelhead23

    Yves, I have noticed a mild tendency toward Anglophilism in some of your cultural remarks. Given that penchant and an appreciation for drama, I suggest you make a sport of patrolling the blog. I suggest you warn those you believe are plants or trolls by commenting on their posts with a different nom de plume – The Red Queen. Then, if the miscreants fail to get the message its “Off with his head, off with her head!” Lewis won’t object.

  36. Sev

    Laissez-faire may be a desired policy by those who endorse it, but would be odd for one who does not. And yes, I do suspect there is a fairly systematic campaign of paid plants going on web-wide. Similar to the anti-union campaign of ALEC which Cronon described and Maddow discusses. Them with the gold seem determined to rule w/o hindrance.
    Can monarchy be far behind? Surely a few minor clauses in the Constitution can be amended. Probably some of us are just misreading it. Can’t let the Brits have all the fun- let’s let Hollywood show them what a Royal Wedding looks like!

  37. logan5

    Yves is very good about responding to posts, even those that I think are a waste of time. It’s one of the reasons I like this site so much, her personal involvement in the comment section. I think those of you who think she will go to far didn’t read her post or are trolling.

    I for one welcome our benevolent overlord (overlady ?).

  38. F. Beard

    Some thoughts that have restrained me:

    When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19

    Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.Proverbs 29:20 Proverbs 29:20

    And, of course, as a libertarian, I have no problem with Yves deleting/banning for any or no reason at all.

    But as for number of comments, I keep my comments short so several of my comments might not add up to a single comment from wordier folks. :)

    As for banking trolls, I sometimes enjoy educating them on the basic thieving nature of our banking system. But they tend to be a slimy type and I often feel like taking a bath afterwards.

    1. craazyman

      Beard “restraint” isn’t the first thought that comes to my mind when I consider your activity on this message board. :)

      But I like to see the Good Book quoted (King James, please!) and I respect the fact you’re a righteous man.

      1. F. Beard

        Beard “restraint” isn’t the first thought that comes to my mind when I consider your activity on this message board. :) craazyman

        The blood drips from my bitten tongue sometimes. :) But yeah I could talk a rock into sub-atomic particles some days.

        But I like to see the Good Book quoted (King James, please!) craazyman

        Tastes vary. I only wish I could read Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

        and I respect the fact you’re a righteous man. craazyman

        Thanks but that is debatable. But I do read the Bible daily so there is hope.

      2. Cedric Regula

        Personally, I think Jesus should stay out of finance, and Goldman Sachs out of religon. But that’s just my opinion and I don’t harp about it that much.

        1. F. Beard

          Personally, I think Jesus should stay out of finance, and Goldman Sachs out of religon. Cedric Regula

          I tend to quote the Old Testament almost exclusively since both Jews and Christians should recognize its authority.

  39. Paul Tioxon

    Yves, I am not sure how far you will go in regulating the over productive commentators, but I am not sure that people like Down South have much to worry about, as much as the legendary Mr Butlers. You have enemies now, in the blog sense. PR counter punching trolls work your site as well as opposition assessment blog watch patrols. You need to be able to control the content of your site, it is after all your reputation, and not ‘my less than prime beef’ who is sticking their neck out.

    Trolls need to be confronted and slapped down. Plan or be planned for. There are 1001 tricks of sophistry to blunt the valuable debunking that you offer, that is the chief reason I have stayed and decided to join the discussion. Personally, my favorite is what I call the “faculty lounge derisive put down”. That seems to be a favorite of the people here who would consider to be overall friendly compatriots. Then there are those who have so much animosity against fellow citizens to the point of hatred because they are in a union or want health care paid for with taxes. I don’t have time for political opposition other than to defeat them entirely and see that the policy I want executed in government. I support your efforts to control the territory within your blog, it is a geo-political imperative of the first order.

  40. Geoff

    Never read the comments…but I love “the web read for you” feature! Such a curious voice.

  41. rps

    “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse to live in other people’s houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave.” Mahatma Gandhi

  42. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    This is one of my favorite daily stops, but for the most part I avoid the drama of the comments and lurk quietly and mossily in the shade (to keep the garden metaphor intact). That said, I’m as libertarian as you’re going to find anywhere and while free speech is a great thing, I agree you are 100% correct regarding application of the Ritholtz Rules – this is your blog, do as you will. It’s a sad commentary on modern life that there are guests here who do not see the need to act like well-mannered individuals.

    Oh well.

    Back to the shade.

  43. Art Eclectic

    Good for you, Yves. I’ve noticed a similar trend at a few other blogs I read, mostly centrist to left leaning. I avoid far right and far left pundits like the plague, so I don’t know if those are being targeted as well. I suspect not.

    A vibrant discussion with valid points on all sides is good for everybody. Defending one’s position makes one think and truly examine presuppositions, but there’s little point in debating with sock puppets.

  44. El Snarko

    Talking as a reluctant gardener pressed into service by the wife…. The problem is obviously NOT plants. It’s WEEDS !

  45. lambert strether

    A word on the meta from a shy humanities major (although I guess math is one of the humanities). Yves quotes this rule:

    [P]ants … stop acting like human beings. They instead repeat the same messages as before, alternating with attempts to use terms like “socialism” in order to intimidate people.

    I’d refine that to include “any stick to beat a dog” behavior. (I read this in Norman Douglas’s South Wind, but in fact it’s a well-known trope.) That behavior happens when A and B are engaged in an argument, A wins the point, and B drops the point, without acknowledgment, and simply introduces a new and unrelated point (“any stick,” where A is the “dog”). B is simply trolling A, and there’s no true engagement of views. Note that this is not necessarily the behavior of a plant, although it can be. I curate for the discourse, not the poster, so I ban B.

  46. Brian

    For my two cents, One can not engage in a battle of wits with the unarmed, and engaging in a battle of wits requires at least 2 willing participants. If you know you can’t have an argument, why start one?

  47. anon48

    I’ve been a follower of this blog for more than three years. Back in the beginning I truly enjoyed every word including the comments. People’s reactions to posts were mostly thoughtful . Any disagreements that arose tended not to get personal.

    Since that time, I’ve throttled back on the amount of time spent here. Still regularly check the daily posts but pretty much skip over the comments. I, like some others above, have been turned off, not by the shills but by the self-anointed few who consider themselves protectors of the faith. Make note of those who usually resort to name calling and labeling, if you’ve not already done so, and the pattern becomes obvious.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      I think the reason you see people speak up here to ring the changes on the view expressed in the post is that this site mainly goes against MSM/consensus reality. If you are skeptical, you don’t get a lot of cultural reinforcement. So some of the reason for speaking up is to affirm that there is a community of people who don’t buy it either. Being outside the mainstream can leave one feeling a tad isolated.

      1. Susan Truxes

        Thank you. I was just going to say that. That, the mainstream is actually a watershed.

      2. Transor Z


        I applaud your compassion and sense of mission. But even a kindly Island of Misfit Toys can go Lord of the Flies.

        Ille. No, not sing,
        For those that love the world serve it in action,
        Grow rich, popular and full of influence,
        And should they paint or write still it is action:
        The struggle of the fly in marmalade.
        The rhetorician would deceive his neighbours,
        The sentimentalist himself; while art
        Is but a vision of reality.
        What portion in the world can the artist have
        Who has awakened from the common dream
        But dissipation and despair?

        -Yeats, Ego Dominus Tuus
        Barry’s been known to break out the occasional scissors -SNIP- to enforce the GYOFB policy.

        1. DownSouth

          “Island of Misfit Toys” that is at risk of going “Lord of the Flies”? That’s how you characterize what “is regularly cited as…the best comment section of any financial/econ blog”? (see Yves’ May 4, 2011 at 5:11 am comment above)

          And to top it off, you go scampering to Yves’ apron strings, believing you will find a safe harbor for your passive-aggressive behavior there?

          It’s amazing that we have to go to Barry Ritholtz’s blog to find a comment authored by you that talks about issues, and not just about personalities. I checked out your 10:43 a.m. comment on Riholtz’s blog comment thread that can be found here. And sure enough, it goes a long way in explaining why, when you comment on Naked Capitalism, you make it all about personalities, and not about issues. I think you’re smart enough to realize that the laissez faire, anti-government Austerianism expressed in that comment wouldn’t play too well here at NC. So what other option do you have, other than to make it all about personalities, and not about issues?

          1. Transor Z

            Not everything I write in comments on this blog pertains to you. My comment was addressed to Yves. Please don’t feel the need to reply to every comment I might write on this blog. I supplied comments above to address an accusation that I defend Larry Summers. Your reductionist characterization of a different comment I made on a thread on TBP is inaccurate. In that comment I clearly advocate breaking up TBTF institutions that create systemic risk. That’s hardly laissez faire.

            My thoughts are my own and I don’t “drink the kool-aid.” To the extent I use “labels” in comments please consider it short-hand in my attempts to keep my commentary brief.

          2. DownSouth

            Oh I don’t mind responding to your comments. I derive great pleasure from ripping the mask off your pretenses.

            And as to my “reductionist characterization” is “inaccurate”?

            Well maybe so.

            I’d encourage anyone who’s interested to go take a look, and that way they can judge for themselves.

      3. Siggy

        I was an only and unwanted child. There were very few children my age in my neighborhood. I had to play with much older and more mature children for most of my childhood. I had to learn to beat up the bullies and I learned that they were bullies largely because they were slow witted, if not retarded, and insecure in their deficiencies.

        I was forced to see the world and people as they are, not as some tricked up self created image. And while I’m not a rapid responder, given enough time I can beat most people at most things, except maybe dear Down South who is far and away the best fellow at gushing up a citation or two, whether the citation is pertinent or not.

        What matters is seeing what is, not some hyped-up propaganda exercise. The commentary of more than a few who come here is that of rendering rants that reflect both frustration and ignorance. They’re mad as hell, and really have no concept as to why. This leads to the circumstance that a large number of commentators here are not worth the time, yet a few are very cogent and civil.

        This blog is a bit more than a voice of dissent, it is voice of discovering what is. And there’s the conflict. There are some folks who just can’t perceive and reason independently.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Siggy;
          I,m one of the Rending Ranters I guess. Frustration indeed, but some of it is ignorance of effective countermeasures. We’re too far down the food chain to have any real power, that is true frustration.
          We may be a waste of time, I’ll agree, but the frequency of our appearance should be some sort of leading indicator. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing is an aphorism that cuts both ways. Lots of us are here seeking an enlightenment. In this regard, Yves and Barry are doing a Moral Good. Good for them! The Truth shall set them free, indeed!

      4. carping demon

        Ah. As usual, you have hit the nail on the head. This blog is my first blog in the morning and the last at night. You have a concise and considered viewpoint and are dependably fearless in presenting it. You are the best result of Sept. 2008, for me, at least.

      5. Pixy Dust

        Being outside the mainstream can also leave one feeling liberated.
        Why keep playing in a rigged game? Sometimes it’s fun just to watch others play, especially those who think they can beat the house.

  48. Eureka Springs

    Yves, As someone who moderated with the admin/mod team over at FDL for many years (over a million comments to be sure), I would simply say you should trust your instinct. Your guidelines are very reasonable and you do not have the time to personally waste on digging into the minutia of a possible troll with a blog of this size… no to a point of losing the quality of the blog up top.

    The number of times you would need to take a mulligan (platypus) would be so few, you shouldn’t worry about it.

    The fact you took the time to pen this post says so much. Far more consideration than those you would banish would ever do. Keep this link, give it to them with a warning.. and let them decide… it rarely takes long.

  49. JasonRines

    Small towns have Sherrifs to create and enforce local laws. Blogosphere news will evolve from the wild west to have voting systems. ‘report abuse’ functions work to some degree, but I would build it based on an algorythm of negative commentary votes and ‘report abuse’. The Internet has plenty of ‘like’ functions but no ‘dislike’ so democratic style consenus building online is still a ways off. Until then don’t feel bad about being the Sherrif Yves. You are more than fair with allowing pretty much anything someone has to say.

      1. JasonRines

        Good point Eureka. I like Zero Hedge but it is so bearish it makes me want to kill myself. What ever happened to door number three in our society? Must everything be right or left, bull or bear? Divide and conquer politics sure has had a noticeable effect on our society.

    1. Tom Crowl

      Well said!

      And Yves is also right in her comment above about how important it is for those seeing problems in the current paradigm… to be able to find and recognize that there are other reasonable people who also see problems and to be part of a search for rational ways forward.

      Without that community of recognition… false mythologies can and do destroy real lives and civilizations.

      In many ways this civilization seems trapped like the extinct Easter Islanders building monuments to ancient Gods and willing to kill ourselves doing it.

  50. joel3000


    This is one of the few sites whose comments section is readable.

    This is your creation and property Yves, you don’t have to justify your policies. If the trolls get upset they can troll somewhere else.

    1. CE

      Yeah, no justification is needed. If you don’t like the way somebody comments and you think it detracts from what you are trying to build here? Execute them and make a public show of it. Machiavellianism works in comments threads because only Yves has a stake in this blog, everybody else just comments for catharsis.

    2. Firean

      in reply to: “This is one of the few sites whose comments section is readable”.

      I’ll agree with that.

      And with the analogy of the garden; let’s not forget that no garden, what ever the type, is complete without the aves and the apoidea and a few papilionoidea. (though some of us may be still be learning to fly and some still at the pupae stage, with regards to knowledge of economics).
      I won’t arguing the rules with the gardener.

  51. SqueekyFromm

    My name for these people is “Traveling Trolls” because it seems like they work in teams or groups and travel around to various websites. What I look for is whether or not they have their own blog, because if you really have a lot to say then you would probably have your own blog.

    Another sign is “Reiteration instead of argumentation”. Because when somebody makes a good argument, and the other person just reiterates the thing you just shot down, then you have to wonder if you are arguing with Watson or something???

    Like, they say “A”- and you say “B” which refutes “A” and their response is “But A”. I mean, a computer could do that. Just put “But” in front of what they already said. And jiggle the order of the paragraphs.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. F. Beard

      What I look for is whether or not they have their own blog, because if you really have a lot to say then you would probably have your own blog. Charlie’s girl friend

      Not necessarily. I have quite a lot to say on ethical money creation but would rather post on other people’s blogs than start my own because:

      1) My own blog would be a chore and a responsibility.
      2) What good is preaching to the choir?

        1. F. Beard

          Though I speak of a choir – that is only a wish!

          Oddly very few seem to comprehend the idea of separate government and private money supplies. Everyone seems to be intent that there be only one money supply and that it be according to their ideas.

          1. Pixy Dust

            Yeah, that’s a tricky one. Fed money is private and has managed to hijack our economic self-determination. Would more competition from other private money suppliers help? What would keep them from colluding in private? Look how uncompetitive the airline industry is. I think I sympathize with your intent, but I have more faith in a transparent, collective control and supply of our money-system.

  52. Greenguy

    It seems logical that big firms would pay people to comment on blogs – they have the cash and their propaganda functions to either persuade people not to disagree or to silence debate entirely.

  53. ebear

    I think blogging is already obsolete as a medium of communication. It may provide momentary satisfaction to the person who feels s/he has something to say, but as a method for developing ideas, it sorely lacks.

    Consider: Anything I might feel is worth adding to the discussion gets lost among the 100+ other posts from people who feel exactly the same way. It all gets buried in the noise and in the end who reads it? Who has the time?

    It’s not about content per se – it’s a breadth vs. depth issue. The format is too superficial and one-sided to permit the kind of in depth debate needed to reach any sort of workable conclusion, regardless of the issue at hand.

    McLuhan was right about the medium being the message – that is to say, the technology, be it print, radio, television or the internet defines the nature of communication and sets the upper limit of its utility.

    Things are moving very quickly now. Far too fast to keep up. Before long there won’t be anything left to say, or anyone to hear us say it.

    Basically, everything’s disappeared.


    1. Toby

      I agree, though would replace your “already” with “quickly becoming.” And yet here we are, commenting! ;-)

      We need deep, lasting and thorough debates/discussions on solutions/alternatives. As much as I admire Yves, the tendency is to repeat the same message for its own sake; to blog or not to blog, that is the tension. It’s baked into the blogging cake. A blog is the wrong format for what we now need to be using the internet for, because the news cycle tugs blogs along in its glittering wake. While this is true, and while noise and trolls and shills are the easy weapon they are, blogs will remain lightning rods and nothing more. If you blog in a tight corner your impact is too small. If you open your doors the noise is too great. If you follow the news your ‘unconventional,’ ‘unorthodox’ position is merely reactionary. ‘Tis a troubling conundrum.

      1. ebear

        Wow.. someone actually saw what I wrote and replied! There’s my theory shot to hell. Seriously though, I had to work at it just to find what I wrote. Way too linear. Scrolling. Yuck.

        I see McLuhan as the original blogger. He’d throw out some thoughts – cliche probes as he called them – and you’d get a flurry of commentary, but by the time anyone thought to ask what he actually meant, he’d already left the building. I think his own audience bored him. Maybe that’s happening to Yves? I have no idea… does she ever scroll down this far? I couldn’t manage this pace. It’s like the Shinkansen – you’re flying along at 250 km/hr, but it feels like you’re barely moving.

        Not to lean too heavily on McLuhan, but he did have some worthy insights – like the content of the new medium is the old medium. So then what is this right here? Letters to the editor, except every letter gets published? Our 15 lines of fame?

        Following your line of thought…..

        A blog is the wrong format for what we now need to be using the internet for, because the news cycle tugs blogs along in its glittering wake.” and ” If you follow the news your ‘unconventional,’ ‘unorthodox’ position is merely reactionary.”

        ….maybe what we need is to just shut it off? Temporarily, of course. Just long enough to see what we’re actually missing…


        1. Toby

          To be a McLuhan-Swamp Thing hybrid for a moment:

          We need to be the mitochondrial network under the dry, crusty soil of the old, preparing it for the new forest we are becoming.

          (Was that too new agey? It’s easy to get the tone wrong when you only have a few words to encapsulate hundreds of thousands.)

          The question is how. Right now I like Franz Hoermann, but to get his message, you have to speak German.

          And wow, someone read my reply! AND answered. Red letter day.

          1. ebear

            “And wow, someone read my reply! AND answered. Red letter day.”

            If this keeps up we’ll have to start our own blog!

            Hmm, don’t know if I’m ready for that…..


  54. skippy

    Geez…know your host if you wish to stay for the after hour party.

    Yves rules not by God given Decree (Queen), MSM psychologically manipulative repetitive subliminal cortex injections, ideologically driven dogma dominatrix (ummm[???]lol) or any other pidgin holed mindset (this is why she is unpalatable to MSM).

    She is an *Intellectual*, look it up, she will, if offered, either acquiesce or wholeheartedly disinvest in previous positions, if sufficient empirical evidence is offered.

    Skippy…a Northern Yankee of old cloth sprinkled with some southern genteel and baked internationally.

    1. Pixy Dust

      There’s an after hour party?
      How come I’m never invited to these things?
      That’s where the seeds are planted to spring up some of the best ideas.

      Sigh… Back to the aethers……

  55. Lee

    This post got linked on another blog I frequent, and I thought I’d mention another moderation tool I’ve seen used in various places: disemvoweling.

    It’s a way to make trollish comments harder to read without actually deleting them, and it’s also a public marker for “you’re being an asshole here”.

  56. Joe Rebholz

    I’ve been reading this blog regularly since Oct. 2, 2010. And when I say regularly I mean almost every day. I read the comments and many of the links too. I love it. I’m learning a lot about how our world really works. Before comming across this blog I would never have imagined ever having any interest in New York trust law or the varied foreclosure proceedures in the various states or MMT or … so many other things.

    I’m interested in how information flows determine our cultures, economies, and all our systems. This leads to questions about propaganda, secrecy, spreading of misinformation, rhetorical tricks, communication in general, etc. This leads me to question how effective will corporations and government agencies be in their deliberate spreading of misinformation, or the deliberate attempts to confuse and disrupt new ideas by paying plants and disinformers to try to distract bloggers and counter the information provided by bloggers to their readers. For those readers who don’t read the comments, they will have no effect (or no direct effect) at all unless they distract the blogger. For those readers who comment and for those readers who read the comments the disinformers and the distractors can ruin the comments section of a blog if the blogger or the regular commenters don’t keep the weeds under control, as previous commenters have noted.

    But here’s a possible unintended consequence for the disinforming organizations. The people hired to be disinformers and distractors will in the process of doing their jobs have to understand, at least somewhat, the arguments they are attempting to suppress. Some of that information then will be leaking back into the suppressing organizations. In the comments section of a blog like Naked Capitalism, where civility mostly prevails and rhetorical tricks are widely recognized, the disinformers and distractors will have a very hard time. Some may even be converted. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

      1. ambrit

        dear Patriot;
        To “go native” one has to have empathy with the “natives” in question. The true Chauvanist has no regard for the realities informing the world view of the “natives.” He or she has an unshakeable belief in his or her superiority. This Imperial worldview is generally why these people are chosen for their counter insurgency jobs. By generally referring to those “gone native” as “poor deluded souls” and suchlike, the status quo is preserved. Leak back is generally the result of massive failure, the type that cannot be ignored.
        How did we get to talking in quasi military terms anyway? Isn’t this an economics blog?

  57. MikeJ

    I honestly don’t understand why people get so worked up over comment modding. Have you actually posted comments somewhere that you feel were unfairly modded?

    If you’re not an asshat, you won’t post like an asshat, and you won’t have anything to worry about. I am convinced of this.

  58. Godwin

    Political consultants have been hijacking comment threads for years. I know of a particular instance where a local blogger was able to uncover the evidence, through some cross referencing of monikers on social netowrking sites, which led to explanations of detailed exploits of binge drinking and landing a new job with said consultant. When the troll was confronted he copped to it, as if to say “so, what’s wrong with that?” The answer: tweaking with the discourse under a psudonym, as opposed to participating (under the pretext of “just some guy”), is no more then the grand manipulation by PR on a smaller scale– a larger scale when considering the aggregate results.

  59. Sauron

    If Yves didn’t have good judgement, we wouldn’t bother reading her blog. And judging who is a troll or a plant isn’t really that hard–although giving a hard and fast rule defining trollism might be. Granted, there may be a few difficult cases. But I doubt they’re many.

  60. Arnie

    There may well be infiltrators lurking here, but I think this trend you speak of is showing itself across all kinds of web sites. This may be a universal evolutionary pattern that touches all new social technologies at some point.

  61. GeneH3

    Yves, your blog, your property to do with it as you will. Check.

    I disagree with those who presume that all property is public property and that every forum is a public forum where the Constitutional constraints that apply to governments apply to private citizens. Blogs like this one rise or fall on their own merits and it is the owner’s right to edit and censor in a way to pursue success according to his own vision. If it works, as it does here, the reward belongs to the owner for his perceptive use of the medium. If you don’t like it’ go somewhere else. If enough people don’t like it and go somewhere else, there will be a message in that for the owner.

  62. craazyman

    trolls and plants don’t bother me at all.

    who cares?

    not me.

    “scroll on by” like the song says.
    scroll on by

    I never ever read them . . .
    then I say good-bye (I-yii-yii-yii)

    I just appreciate this site so much for it’s incredibly well-informed, righteous and sane analysis and commentary.

    To Yves and Ed Harrison, Marshall, Bill Black, et. al. Even you George Wash., you frothing madman.

    Thank you all for what you do (and for tolerating the peanut gallery).

      1. craazyman

        great stuff beard. they were magnificent.

        makes me forget about the banksters for a while.

        that’s what real money should be, something that cleans the gates of perception and lets us see who and what we really are. it would be priceless. no pun intended.

  63. Pixy Dust

    Hey wait just a darn minute. What the heck is wrong with Berkeley-Bikrenstock-wearing-save-the-whales-and-wolves-and-frogs-granolaheads?

    Yves, you wrote an article several months back that used a term for paid bloggers who descend on websites with their talking points and scripted argument format. Is there a marketing or blog term for this (besides “trolls” which is pretty generic and multipurpose)? I suppose I could research your archives, but I’m lazy.

    (Save the platypus.)

  64. F. Beard

    Yeah, that’s a tricky one. Fed money is private and has managed to hijack our economic self-determination. Pixy Dust

    The money maybe private but the monopoly is granted by the government. That monopoly should be abolished.

    Would more competition from other private money suppliers help? Pixy Dust

    Only the government should issue government money but that money should only be legal tender for government debts, taxes and fees. Private monies would have to compete with each other but they would be completely unacceptable for government debts.

    What would keep them from colluding in private? Pixy Dust

    They might but the government’s fiat could always be used as a fall-back for private debts.

    Look how uncompetitive the airline industry is. Pixy Dust

    I don’t fly anymore. To hell with the TSA.

    I think I sympathize with your intent, but I have more faith in a transparent, collective control and supply of our money-system. Pixy Dust

    We should have both government and private money supplies. The collective control would apply to the former. Plus private money supplies would allow usury free monies such as common stock to be widely used as money.

    1. Pixy Dust

      Interesting ideas F. Beard, but I have a natural tendency to coil with private ownership and control of something so fundamental and necessary to peoples’ well-being as money. We have competitive private control now with foreign exchanges and carry-trade finance/investment industries. I’m not sure I like where it’s brought us-given that it’s only constitutional mandate within our economic system to date, is simply to “maximize gains”.

      On the other hand, how to encourage healthy innovation and creativity with a money and economic system that people can feel confident is honest, especially over long time periods? I have no answers. Only the same discontent with our current system.

    2. Pixy Dust

      One other idea I wanted to mention is that our government should maintain it’s power to grant monopoly. But I do agree somewhat with you that it needed maintain support for that monopoly when the issuer and owner of that money supply has so obviously misused its’ mandate to promote full-employment, and has failed miserably at controlling inflation. The government has- over the decades – assisted by fudging the numbers, thereby overlooking the incompetence and likely criminality. (But impressive campaign contributions make it hard to be honest I guess.)

      1. Pixy Dust

        need not maintain support…

        Note to self – Proof read before posting.

      2. F. Beard

        he government has- over the decades – assisted by fudging the numbers, thereby overlooking the incompetence and likely criminality. Pixy Dust

        I would say it is more likely to be incompetence than criminality. And it maybe unavoidable incompetence. Who says a nation of over 300 million can get by with a single money supply? At least if we had diversity we would not suffer the consequences of mono-culture – a nationwide boom-bust-depression cycle.

        But let’s not pretend we have genuine free market capitalism with a government enforced monopoly money supply. That is banker fascism, not the free market.

        1. Pixy Dust

          Yes, I agree regarding bankster fascism. However I am not a supporter of free-market capitalism. Free Market Capitalism – as Ralph Nader’s father once said – will always require Socialism to save it. 2008 bail-out reiterated that.
          I prefer regulated capitalism.

          I’ve also kicked around the idea of regional currencies and State Wealth Funds based on the Sovereign Wealth Funds that have gobbled up so much of our US Treasury Notes.

          But kicking the ideas around a little is as far as I ever get. Too much other stuff to tend to and occupy brain space.

          1. F. Beard

            However I am not a supporter of free-market capitalism. Pixy Dust

            Who has seen such a thing? We have not had it in the US since 1913 at the latest if we ever had it.

            A healthy private sector to tax would benefit government too. Furthermore, a healthy private sector would allow more people to not require government social services.

  65. Anonymous

    Long time reader, first time commentator. Yves, I just wanted to give you a heads up that I’ve noticed this in other blogs. Krugman has a troll called “Sean Lee” who fits your profile perfectly. He always tries to be one of the first 3 to comment, else he doesn’t comment at all, and then dominates the discussion from there, attempting to tarnish Krugman’s reputation at various points. He comments with a speed that I could swear it is his job. And he has been doing it for a long, long time.

  66. Tim in Marblehead

    I followed your blog off and on until I saw what you looked like, then more often. Sorry folks are making you waste your time, but keep up the good work. I appreciate your efforts.

  67. Jib

    I read this blog and Barry’s every day. I rarely read the comments. Honestly, you people (the commenter’s) are just not that interesting.

    What I do not like is when managing comments start to take time away from the official posts. I am not sure if this is a problem for you yet but I have seen good blogs dragged down and ended because managing comments took so much of the owners time.

    I read this blog because of you and your guest writers, not the comments. It would not bother me at all if you stopped all comments. If doing so would increase the quantity and quality of the main posts, then I would ask you to please stop accepting comments.

    If you keep the comments then consider that having a blog is like having a party at your house. You want to be a good host but damn it, it is you house. Kick them out if they are boors, no questions asked.

    1. F. Beard

      Honestly, you people (the commenter’s) are just not that interesting. Jib

      Why don’t you comment yourself so we can learn how interesting you are? Or are not?

      I can’t imagine that a person whose only comment so far is to insult has much worth hearing anyways.

      He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. Proverbs 11:12

  68. doom

    Sure, they make shouting you down a sport but that’s only the mop-up operation. Politics shuts you up first. Like this poll, they call it ‘beyond blue and red,’ but it’s a painstaking effort to define you out of existence.



    See how they do it? Lots of race, no mention of class. No mention of corruption, only power and profit. Ethics tied to religion but not law. Peace tied solely to nationalist means, either force or diplomacy. Economic and Social rights mentioned exclusively in terms of cost. Nothing about repression; only protection is in bounds. You can’t stand outside of the party pens with something like none of the above.

    1. Anonymous II

      I took the test and am put in the Post-Modern type.
      I’m kind of surprised at the Summary in bullet points
      for the Post-Modern types.

    2. doom

      I bet that all the reasons why you’re here at NC are suppressed in that instrument’s questions. It’s like a 2-D projection of where you are in 3- or 4-D space. That way electoral strategies never have to address concerns of the NC sort – in fact, they can’t. The occasional Grayson or Nader who tries to stand up in Flatland will get squashed as an extremist, not because he’s actually at the extremes but because he varies in unauthorized dimensions. Oddly, these dimensions are second nature in International Financial Institutions, because they have to deal with corruption and repression and deficient capacity all the time. But you are not permitted to think that way at home.

    3. Anonymous II

      Good find, doom.

      In the post-quiz, in the “What they believe” section,
      it is written that:
      “Most (56%) say Wall Street helps the economy more than it hurts”, about Post-Moderns.

      I got there by taking the quiz and being assigned to
      the Post-Modern type. What puzzles me is that the
      twenty-question quiz that I took had nothing re:
      “Wall Street helps the economy more than it hurts” …

    4. DownSouth


      Great observations.

      They create their boxes in the shape they want them, and then you have to fit inside one of them. If in the process they have to whack off an arm or a leg, or even your head, to make you fit, so be it.

  69. Skeptic

    Tragedy of the commons
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Cows on Selsley Common. The tragedy of the commons is a useful parable for understanding how overexploitation can occur.
    The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen. This dilemma was first described in an influential article titled “The Tragedy of the Commons,” written by Garrett Hardin and first published in the journal Science in 1968.[1]
    Hardin’s Commons Theory is frequently cited to support the notion of sustainable development, meshing economic growth and environmental protection, and has had an effect on numerous current issues, including the debate over global warming.
    Central to Hardin’s article is an example (first sketched in an 1833 pamphlet by William Forster Lloyd) of a hypothetical and simplified situation based on medieval land tenure in Europe, of herders sharing a common parcel of land, on which they are each entitled to let their cows graze. In Hardin’s example, it is in each herder’s interest to put the next (and succeeding) cows he acquires onto the land, even if the quality of the common is temporarily or permanently damaged for all as a result, through over grazing. The herder receives all of the benefits from an additional cow, while the damage to the common is shared by the entire group. If all herders make this individually rational economic decision, the common will be depleted or even destroyed to the detriment of all.

    1. James

      Or, the current federal budget deficit/debt in a nutshell. Been there, made that argument. More times than I can count.

      Trouble is, what we’re considering here isn’t necessarily that (a public good) at all, in that if you merely self-censor/ignore the comments you disagree with, there’s no problem/cost AT ALL. What’s not to love?

      Of course you’ll be missing out on information that you may or may not actually LEARN from, but that’s a given, right? Right?

      To be clear, I’m down with warning and then banning mere “repeaters” after a suitable period. Persistent agitators with a rationale, however irritating, not so much. Color me old, but I rather much being irritated these days, especially by rather simplistic arguments such as this.

    2. Eric

      I could be wrong, but I think cowherds might be more sensitive to the dangers of overgrazing than somebody writing a position paper.

      There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room given to cooperation in many of the theories we hold so dear.

      The prisoners’ dilemma is solved by anticipation.

  70. Jonathan

    I have never commented before on this site. I am in awe of Yves capacity to produce thoughtful analysis. I wish I understood the financial interactions you are able to explain with such facility. I struggle to keep up with your analysis (though I am an Asst. Professor who studies some aspects of political economy.) I have learned much here, and expect to continue to do so.

    However, I rarely bother reading the comments on this Blog . . . . partly because I often find them of the sort you describe in this post. Rarely have I read comments and felt like I learned something valuable. Thus I generally ignore them.

  71. b

    I’ve been reading your blog for nigh on four years now. I’ve learned a great deal, agreed and disagreed a great deal, and enjoyed your insight tremendously. I bought Econned as soon as it was available on pre-order and devoured it cover to cover as soon as I received it in the mail. I even bought a couple of books for relatives. There are a great deal of points of view that I share with you politically and philosophically. Your blog posts are, as a rule, incredibly informative. But I do feel that at times you seem to be baiting a certain readership. You’ve challenged “libertarians” on numerous occasions and seem to have left it to the comments section to wipe up any dissenting opinions (yes you do respond to comments, but I see a certain few who appear to take up your cause in almost every instance). I tend to think you may have been doing the same with your recent post on silver for more or less the same reasons. Was this a premeditated attempt to filter your readers? Perhaps I’m reading too much into those blog posts. I digress. With regard to the heart of the present post, I honestly have not been able to discern who may or may not be a troll or plant in your comment section. You would know much better than I in that regard. Granted, I don’t read the comment section religiously, but I do fairly regularly gloss over comments. I have to say that, while there may be some who may post a diverging view or opinion from the thrust of your posts, you do an able and judicious job of offering effective retorts. What I don’t appreciate, however, are the very apparent “comments to the rescue” from the “same old gang” of commenters after just about every single once of your blog posts. It almost feels as though there is an echo chamber “choir” of those at the ready to defend Yves at all cost and as often as possible. This truly diminishes the value of the comment section in my eyes. I’ll abstain from making any reference to particular commenters. Thus, if you are truly intent on culling the “trolls and plants”, then I feel you may want to also consider culling the number of comments from “tag-alongs and patsies”. I guess that one could interpret this as an “all or none” attitude. Obviously, it’s your blog and you decision. I’ll just skip the comment section completely from now on. That will by my decision.

  72. Debra Steidel

    In contrast to Jonathan above, I read Yves’ posts only if they are short. Not because I don’t enjoy her analysis, but simply due to time constraints. If a post is too long (i.e., meaning I don’t have time) then I skip over it and look for comments by DownSouth, attempter or Hugh. To me, these three are the most intelligent commenters on this site and they nearly always have something worth listening to. I believe they are original and unconventional thinkers, and this is probably why so many readers dislike them.

    Those readers who can’t stand anything unconventional might be happier reading the comments at Yahoo finance, where unconventional thoughts almost never happen, and if one does get through by accident, it is quickly given a thumbs down and deleted.

  73. Cujo359

    As a semi-regular reader, I feel no reason to complain about this policy. It’s pretty clear that Yves hasn’t banned very many comments here, and based on the comments that have survived, I don’t think it’s possible to accuse her of censorship. There are plenty of different opinions expressed in these comments.

    I mostly avoid reading the comments because there are so many of them, not because they’re a waste of time. Some are, of course, but the sheer volume is what deters me. I don’t think that’s something anyone running a blog would complain about.

    Anyway, Yves, as folks have already observed, it’s your blog, so we go by your rules.

  74. Nala Lakos

    As physicist I also like ideas of creative ones like DownSouth. Opposing ideas make value in the Quantum Universe. It is uncertaint of Heisenberg not certainty o Newton that holds key to the future. Gov’t propaganda is death to science and human spirit. It is a conspiracy to limit ideas by killing dreams. I support Quantum Comments from DownSouth and others!

    1. DownSouth

      It’s always amazed me that physics has already moved on, whereas the discipline of economics, as well as religion, are still stuck in the 17th century Counter-Renaissance.

      The following quote by Carroll Quigley from The Evolution of Civilizations sums it up nicely. Although he is speaking of religion, it applies equally to science:

      The idea, so widely spread today that the ‘Summa theologia’ was a final, complete, and permanent presentation of its subject, was not held at the time by anyone, least of all by Aquinas himself…

      This attitude, to which I have referred by the maxim about the social unfolding of truth, is the basis of the Western religious outlook. This outlook believed that religious truth unfolded in time and is not yet complete… The fundamentalist position on biblical interpretation, with its emphasis on the explicit, complete, final, and authoritarian nature of Scripture, is a very late, minority view quite out of step with the Western tradition.

      1. Nala lakos

        Yes!! Dialectical unfold is of essence of scientific method, progress through opposing idea hypothesis. Thomas Aquinas was cornerstone of Church hegemony of ideas so I am wary to endorse or give too much of credit to prescience. This was same Church that rehabiltate Galileo in 2000. Sorry but I am also wary of Catholic doctrine influence for Quigley. I respect very much religions even as scientist but church dogma and governement propaganda not so different to me. But funny connection to Naked Capitalism!

  75. psychohistorian


    What I worry about for your site is you continuing to manage your site to a standard you establish. If those arrayed against you choose to overwhelm you with challenging commentors then you will have less time to post. I would encourage you to establish a time limit on comment management, notice when it goes consistently over and adjust your “standard” appropriately.

    You are a target and they have lots of money to hire folk to spin their narrative.

    Thanks for your continued efforts on mankind’s behalf.

  76. dearieme

    The real problem, if I may say so madam, is the decline in the average standard of comment. And secondly, when these bozos decide to bore, they do bore at length.

  77. Chris

    Yves – I hope you read this because I need some time to digest information before responding. I read your blog often. I stopped reading the comments awhile back because of the trolls. I still read the comments at Ritholz’s blog BECAUSE they are heavily moderated. Really, who is going to read more than about 40 comments deep? I don’t comment on any blog very often because most of the thoughts I and others have aren’t worth anyone’s time. I save my comments for things I think are truly relevant. To this point, perhaps you should consider rationing your readers comments to say five per week. The reader could spend them all on one post or spread them out. This would force the reader to consider their thoughts before writing a knee jerk post. This could be automated and save you time for your true work.

  78. Lung Cancer Symptoms

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