Announcing Site Policy Change

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We regret to inform readers that we will be shutting down comment on most posts. We are far from the only site to be forced to make this change.

The purpose of Naked Capitalism above all is to foster critical thinking. For the overwhelming majority of this site’s history, we have been fortunate to have an articulate and engaged readership that gave high value added commentary and provided us and other readers with new ideas, informed critiques, and (sadly) corrections of our too-numerous typos.

That is no longer the case. The comments section has now become negative value added, to the point that Lambert and I are devoting disproportionate time to the moderation queue. The result is that I am ruining my health as well as neglecting original reporting. I am now regularly up all night until 8:00 AM and even as late as 1:00 PM waging a losing war to keep the quality of the comments section at its historical level. I am spending well over an hour a day on the moderation queue alone. As a result, I do not have time to read the rest of the site, much less comments on Links (which is an important source of reader feedback, particularly on breaking news) and many of the comments on other posts.

We’ve been inundated by new readers, which would normally be gratifying. However, the overwhelming majority of newbies seem to regard Naked Capitalism as a chat board and appear not to have read our Policies section. Even with the generous assistance over the years by many long-standing commentors in helping us in this effort, it’s costing us too much in scarce site resources to manage this influx, particularly since many of these newbies seem to regard commenting as a right, and not a privilege.

This misallocation of resources has gone so far that Lambert and I have had to involve occasional writers on this site in the effort to restore the comments section to its former level. But it may be that we need to accept that the Internet has changed and we were lucky to hold out as long as we did.

One of the things that has been most distressing is the apparent distaste of many of the newbies for nuanced, non-binary, information dense argument, which is this site’s calling card. Readers: if you don’t like what we write, it’s a big Internet. We suggest you read other sites rather than demand that we force-fit our material into your frame in the comments section.

Moreover, we have repeatedly stressed the importance of rigorous thinking and expression. But instead, we’ve seen a rise in fallacious forms of argumentation, like ad hominem attacks and broken record (repeating an argument after it has been refuted). Worse, readers persist in and defend these strategies even after we call them out. As Popular Science wrote when it shut down its comment section in 2013:

Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought…

If you carry out those results to their logical end–commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded–you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the “off” switch.

Both Lambert and I like a good fight. At the same time, we’d always like to be kind. I was looking at some of my old comments from 2008, and I was shocked at how much my tone had changed. Some of it is now that the stakes are much higher now than they are then, some of it is that there are simply more people reading more broadly on the Internet than in the past, but some of it is that I am tired and frayed and with some readers, anything less than a sharp rebuke seems not to register. As a result, we as administators need to rebalance the blog to get back to reading and responding to fewer comments of much higher quality, and in a way that doesn’t overwhelm us as chronically time-stressed and occasionally snappish people. This policy change is intended to achieve that goal. And we believe that can happen. We earlier expressed our disappointment at how few readers were commenting on our wonkier finance posts, since they are often important from a policy perspective. We’ve seen a marked increase in the number of informative and inquisitive remarks on them.

We feel particularly strongly about the quality of the comments section precisely because our site has a significant following among policymakers, particularly financial regulators, journalists, and Congressional staffers. Having the site’s comments skew increasingly to noise as opposed to signal is not helpful in coming to better policy decisions.

We will continue to allow comments on Links, Water Cooler, original reporting, and media appearances by site writers. However, we are going to be strict about conversations on those posts. They are not an alternate venue for offering your views on posts where comments are closed. If you do that once, you get a warning and go into moderation. If you do it a second time, you will be banned. That includes not using today’s Links or Water Cooler to discuss this change.

I am deeply saddened to have to take this step. But the alternative is that I break down physically and there is no site at all.

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  1. David Henderson

    I understand your change in policy… and I must confess that I’ve been skimming over some comments as too shallow to justify my time in reading them.

    Comments do serve a useful purpose. Perhaps the killer app would be some means of peer-to-peer grading of comments so you don’t have to spend so much time vetting the nonsense.

    1. I.D.

      Peer to peer moderation tends to be somewhat overrated: sites like Reddit or Slashdot are proof that community moderation strengthens existing group-think.

      It’s also an easy vector for special interests to push a false agenda through trolls and sockpuppets.

        1. Malcolm MacLeod

          Yves, you and Lambert have been fighting a downhill battle with a
          broken sword. This had to happen as our milieu degenerates. It’s
          the sign of these times. Still, be happy for a superb job.

    2. YankeeFrank

      Unfortunately, unless you create a more or less fixed set of higher quality “peers” to do the grading, which winds up being more like curating and has its own problems, having everyone grade comments just makes the most mediocre rise to the top, as is evident on sites that use such techniques like reddit.

      I read internet comments regularly, but upon introspection I’ve found this is largely a form of rubber-necking, where I read just to see the ignorance, bias and downright stupidity on display. The other main impulse seems to be a search for someone to confirm my own opinions. NC’s comments section has, despite a big surge in tin-foil hat argumentation in recent years, been of a much higher quality than anywhere else. I actually learn things reading comments on NC. Amazing! That said, I’m much more interested in having a healthy, happy Yves Smith than in reading and writing comments. If removing comments on most posts will help achieve that goal I’m all for it.

      If I may speak for more than just myself, we come to NC for the community to some extent, but we mainly come here for the depth and insight Yves and Lambert bring to the most important economic and political questions of this deeply troubled era. I learn things here that the MSM doesn’t discuss sometimes until years after, if ever. Yves’ reporting on Greece alone puts pretty much every other publication to shame, displaying a nuance, complexity and depth almost no one else even dares to attempt. Lambert’s fantastic and very early insights into the ACA’s fatal flaws have been another wonderful high point in NC’s original reporting. These are just two of hundreds of topics NC has added invaluably to over the years.

      I think this move is for the best and I’m happy that Yves and Lambert have made this decision, even though it means less opportunity for me to spout my own brand of “insight”. Once again, great job you two. Don’t ever forget how much we appreciate you.

      1. Foy


        A happy, healthy Yves is definitely the most important thing so please don’t feel bad about the change at all Yves. It’s great the comments section lasted as long as it did in its current format. There have been very insightful comments in it in the past (now I guess its a bit more inciteful), but the change was seemingly inevitable as other websites have shown. I could sense the exasperation and don’t know how you managed to do all that you do without even worrying about the comments.

        I really appreciate what you, Lambert and other writers have taught me over the years and looking forward to reading more with a cut down comments section. Cheers

        1. Spring Texan

          Yes, digby shut down comments a long time ago I imagine for similar reasons. It’s too bad but makes sense. Take care of yourself and focus on other parts of this endeavor.

        2. Ishmael


          Hopefully, I have not been the source of any of the distress. If so I apologize.

          Get some R&R


        3. evodevo

          Yes to this. I’ve been following this blog and a couple others ever since ’07, and you have no idea what an education you have been. I quit following the comments on Calculated Risk a couple of years ago when most of the threads degenerated into a slagging match between 3 or 4 of the regular commenters. Much more noise and much less intelligent discussion. I don’t know if the situation improved, ’cause I never went back. I appreciate your efforts at moderation and I’m sorry this had to happen. On the other hand I can get along quite well on your analyses.
          Thanks for all you and Lambert do.

      2. Bronwyn

        The analysis here is unrivalled by anybody other than Matt Taibbi in my experience. Well, and Marcy Wheeler, but she mainly works on national security issues.

      1. Fool

        that’s because dailykos is clickbait journalism and thus attracts clickbait readers. why would they change that?

          1. just me

            I thought this by Markos was pretty good:

            …this places is supposed to foster debate, not create walls around ideas.

            (I was trying to find what Bronwyn was describing when she said her idea was directly disallowed by Markos.)

            But I see the point and rationale behind it. Will need to meditate on it.

            by kos on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 01:23:16 PM PDT

            Is that it, or was there more? I mean that sounds kind of reasonable, and open to thought. Like, Kos? I was surprised, since I consider him a kind of kettler himself. One of my favorite moments in MSNBC history was when they banned him. Kettle came home.

  2. Bobbo

    There is certainly no need to apologize. You have one of the best blogs on the internet, and if you feel you need to make this change to keep it that way, so be it. I am sure most of your readers will support this decision.

    1. Deep Thought

      I agree with Bobbo, no need to apologise. Your reasons for the change are valid, and thank you for the brutal honesty. It’s a very refreshing change from the way websites are often run.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I agree, its very regrettable but Yves health and the health of this website are the most important things so there is no need for any apologies. I do enjoy the comments below and I’ve appreciated (having moderated on other sites) how difficult it is to keep things clean and to the point.

      So let me take this opportunity to say how important this website is to me – a rare oasis of intelligence and insight, even if it has meant I’ve become a loner at lunchtimes as I retreat to read it on my phone!

  3. Alex P.

    That’s too bad, I always thought the comments were often adding insights to your posts. But it’s completely understandable and I agree that your time can be spent better than moderating the comments.

  4. stephen

    You were one of the few sites with a good comments section. Your hard work was appreciated by me. Thanks

    1. Marcie

      Same here. I loved the comments section; I’m sad to see it go, but I do understand. Yves’ time is better spent continuing the excellent analysis she always provides even when I don’t agree with her I still pay attention to what she says.

  5. Chris in Paris

    Isn’t there a way to approve your preferred commenters and block the rest?

    1. thoughtful person

      I’d continue to support the site financially (in my own modest way) either way things go. This idea of a commentariat who has been veted by past history – if there is a way to have such a thing (ie ban everyone except a selected group of quality commentators) seems worth considering.

      Also, having someone else do moderation may help. Delegate delegate don’t overextend and burn out (if delegation possible – otherwise I certainly understand the need to eliminate tasks).

      Thanks to both Yves and Lambert for all you both do here.

    2. abynormal

      “We feel particularly strongly about the quality of the comments section precisely because our site has a significant following among policymakers, particularly financial regulators, journalists, and Congressional staffers. Having the site’s comments skew increasingly to noise as opposed to signal is not helpful in coming to better policy decisions.”

      Hopefully future fundraiser will double from the pockets of these policymakers, financial regulators, journalist, and congressional staffers…$83,000 just ain’t what it use to be.

      “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
      Frank Zappa

    3. lord koos

      Yes I was thinking along those lines too. If the person commenting has a record of being a good contributor to NC they could be preferred. But that still entails a lot of work.

      No need to apologize, Yves.

      1. Kay

        I’m reading these comments and wondering why dailykos is listed as a reference?
        When merely regurgitating other sources that have a political slant or call out a comment for having a political slant the comments have become a war zone of no value.

        Close the comments Yves.
        Keep the articles focused on Fed intervention in China to prop up the Dow, the fact that 93 million people have dropped out of the job market and suddenly we’re at 5.3% unemployment, that housing is starting to bubble again because they’re not building new supply except for multioccupancy units so the millennials can share rent, that $15/hour will spur more robots including skyping for Doctors at the local Walmart, that the new overtime rules are in effect for a higher salary which shake out how(?), the unfunded payrolls in states look like Greece, the Fed w/their constant money printing (aka Quantitative Easing) is making the market totally fake but where do mom and pop put their money for retirement now, and how macro issues of slumping oil meaning lower gas prices at the pump do nothing for the real economy b/c O-care has just increase premiums to $160 a month so the $60 bucks saved in gas goes to O-care and what that means for the velocity of money and the health of the middle class.

        Keep writing about those things that you do so well right before Lehman and right after.

  6. norm de plume

    Fair enough. Husband your limited resources as you see fit. Everyone’s tone has changed, but you have more reason than most. Some of us may disagree with you at times, but we always respect the knowledge and smarts you bring to every issue.

    I will miss the additional insights the comments often provided, but its probably time I got out more anyway…

  7. Eclair

    The price of success, dear Yves and Lambert. Your reporting and discussions are having an important effect on countering the narrative imposed by the powerful and so must be disrupted. A strategic pull-back is important as we need you both strong, sharp and healthy for the long struggle ahead. Rest, recover, regroup and know that your faithful readers stand in solidarity with you.

      1. Chris

        A happy & healthy Yves is a necessity! I rarely post but NC is where I read truth. Many thanks Yves and Lambert

    1. susan the other

      I guess it’s possible that there are too many ideologues hijacking the better logic of posts. But most of us have our own pretty strong point of view without really being ideologues. I’ve been worried about Yves for a while simply because she works too hard. I felt like Lambert was her protector even. So this change is a good one. Please get all the R&R you need, Yves. In future, just for the record, I’d like to get back to a regular dose of wonky economic posts because they are so interesting. Except that I’m totally burned out with the SEC. I’ll say this about “wonky”. Wonky makes you stop and think hard about how your own politix fits in with economix. When the posts are too easy I don’t examine my own thinking. Example: The post two days ago about the BIS/Central Bankers needing a “bigger boat.” I really couldn’t read the author’s politix at all. So I still wonder about it. On balance would more money be more democratic? I can’t answer that because I’m too paranoid about oligarchs and banksters right now. And that sort of confusion (for me) has always been the real gift here on NC. I do like reading everybody else’s confusion too. I think it is time for a change. Lest we indulge in stereotypes.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Though I’ve avoided ad hominems I’m probably as guilty as anyone of “ideology-dense” arguments. It’s sad to see this forum go away as I really did value the commentariat and had no real clue how much curation it required. But the mental health of Yves and Lambert and others is the priority so they can continue to curate the “read-only” version.
        Good bye, all!
        (Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do………………………………………………………………………………..)

    2. flora

      NC’s comments section is the best on the web. I understand the decision to close comments on some posts for the time being. The signal to noise ratio in the comments on Clive’s excellent card payment system post is a case in point.

      There are suggestions that pay-to-play in the comment section might solve the problem of weeding out the noise. I think that would simply allow deep-pocketed political or financial interests to swamp the comment section with their preferred spin if a post’s topic was important to them. Such a system could have a Citizens United effect here on NC. I see big dangers with a pay-to-play approach to the quality of the comment section.

      Since quality comments at NC are more important than quantity of comments it’s probably better to turn off comments on posts that are attracting squads of noise makers.

  8. Tinky

    This is an interesting and, yes, sad development. I say “interesting” because as good as many of the posts are, thoughtful commentary, often including criticism, are, in my experience, what really makes a forum such as this particularly valuable.

    In fact, I would go a step further. One of the admittedly many reasons that the U.S. has been in great decline in recent decades is that our representative form of Government is failing. The thoughts and criticisms of average citizens are no longer considered seriously by most politicians, as moneyed interests completely dominate.

    While the analogy is certainly not perfect, banning comments is equivalent to making the few who write the posts sole representatives of the site, and the power and value of thoughtful and critical dialogue will be erased.

    I don’t in any way presume to dispute the basis for Yves’ choice, as it is her site and her time, etc. However, I will definitely consider NC to be a less valuable resource without comments, and, while I may well be in a small minority, I wouldn’t have had any problem ignoring the “net negative” comments, and focussing on those of value.

    As a final note, I wonder if it would be so difficult to grandfather in those contributors who have built a track record of seriousness, and institute a very tough policy screening new ones?

    1. Barry Fay

      Finally someone who agrees with me! Whew. That took a lot of reading. Seems like a lot of sycophancy on display. The comments on NC are what made it the best site and stopping them will undermine its value immeasurably. I guess having a great site is a lot of work: less work = less value. Right now, with the whole Greek brouhaha the comments have increased exponentially but when that is over things would have settled down. I think Yves pulled the plug too soon! And it may be a fatal decision as far as number of readers go. We´ll see.

  9. Tom

    I didn´t always agree with your views but have always admired how you handled dissent. You had incredibly patience and stamina. I personally would not have had the energy. Whatever else main thing you keep nakedcapitalism going. I check it out every day and truly admire it. Thanks a lot

  10. Ignacio

    Although I like to read the comments, yet this change wont make any difference in the number of times I visit this blog.

  11. vidimi

    i apologize if i have in any way contributed to this. hope you catch up on some rest and keep up the good work

  12. viculea

    Sad but understandable….I’ve learned so much from the comments. This reminds me, does anyone know what happened to From Mexico?

    1. craazyman

      he ran out of Hannah Arendt quotes. After you quote the collected works there’s nothing left. (Just kidding Down South! come back anytime . . ..)

      This new policy will certainly come as a shock to a lot of people. I bet there’s people right now staring at the wall, mute, stunned, incredulous and panic stricken.

      I personally experienced ad-hominem barbs and a refusal to engage in thoughtful way with the logic I presented — sometimes by post authors! It was like they couldnn’t understand me! After a while you give up.

      At any rate, maximizing utility is not always a straightforward process. It may simply be a matter of creating some customized Langrangians. Why worry if commnets go into moderation? Just delete all of them without reading them. An hour a day sifting through that sewer? Oh man. If anyone has something useful to say, they’ll say it eventually

      Also, some people post 15 or 20 comments per post. Limit people to 1 comment and one reply. (Not sure if that’s possible technicallly) Yo wouldn’t want to have to monitor it That for sure

      That should solve the problem entirely. If it takes more than 15 or 20 minutes / day to monitor the peanut gallery, that’s too many minutes.

      But the most important point is this:

      If a post author can’t get comments, then they cant learn from their intellectual errors and logical lapses. It’s a public service, to post authors, to be able to learn from the peanut gallery. Prohibiting comments will deprive many hard working Post Authors of the opportunity for self-improvement and intellectual progress — provided they have the emotional and intellectual maturity for honest seff-assessment. That’s a tragedy that just does’t have to happen.

      1. Skippy

        DownSouth/FM actually had a moment of intransigent fundamentalism wrt a posts author and devolved to the point of seeking beardo as a compatriot in arms. This event was of a hysterical level, to the point intellectual and logical processes went right out the window, a stake was put into the ground that was immovable based on faith alone, and from that point accusations where lunched at the author.

        Skippy… per your last para, you seem to have your causality backwards.

        PS. Yves and Lambert… you both deserve a rest as you will go around the twist dealing with assorted ridged ideological bots and plethora of fudies whom inevitably think disingenuous dialog and maypole antics is intelligent – fact based discourse. I come here first and foremost to learn from the authors and secondly from the interaction in the comments section. as such it does not diminished the original priority. Lighten the load, enjoy yourselves and hope it un-clutters your thinking processes so you can do what your best at.

        1. spooz

          I believe FM was referring to the God of MMT, I remember feeling under attack myself when I dared to bring up alternatives like a Basic Income Guarantee and the IMFs Chicago Plan. When I realized that “monetary cranks” such as myself weren’t welcome here, I stopped commenting for awhile. Now I just steer clear of talking about economics and only post occasional links that I think might be of interest.
          I respect that Yves wants to keep her agenda front and center, and since its her blog she has every right to do so. As she said, people who don’t like it can find somewhere else to go.

          1. Skippy

            This issues with a BIG and the Chicago plan [presented to the IMF by it proponents within the IMF and not to be confused with “an” IMF proposal] have been judiciously examined with natural history and hard data, that its proponents countenance to this rigorous examination is based largely on ridged philosophical grounds [what – IS – couched in quasi religious platitudes rather than the – totality – of our collective history points too], could be confused with “feeling under attack” from a personal perspective. Hyper atomistic individualism seems create an environmental preponderance for such views e.g. everything is an attack on preferences.

            One has to ask themselves what mentality is at play when payment systems architecture, without agency, is comported to “the God of MMT” as if it was self aware. Couching the topic in such a manner the mother of all strawmans is concocted by which to cloth in ev’bal garb, thus lending it to emotive status and such illogical debate. I might point out how well that methodology has worked out for Greece imo.

            Skippy… it my concerted opinion, in all earnestness, is that those that make the payment system the focal point on all outcomes….. are missing the forest for the tree e.g. I am a human being that must contend with others and should not be confused with a lump of Gold.

          2. Lambert Strether

            On a related note, the anti-MMTers in comments at NC dragged their war over to my blog, fracturing it. Made it harder to pay for fuel. It’s only beginning to recover now.

            Yves is quite wise to avoid even the hint of a similar disaster here.

            1. washunate

              That’s the thing, isn’t it?

              Either it’s only a subset of people engaging in intellectually dishonest conversation, or conversely, describing it as a war is a rather inflammatory way of dismissing all perspectives and opinions that differ from one’s own.

              At a simplified level, NEP was for presenting MMT. NC was for discussing it. I’m fine for that to change, especially if this kind of work is causing Yves stress.

              After all, work is stressful and unhealthy. I’m all for a society that does less work.

            2. just me

              you burned your own blog down

              and then you keep using your forum to blame and kick those you’ve pushed out who can no longer speak for themselves

              out, damned spot

              best wishes

      2. Steve H.

        – If a post author can’t get comments, then they cant learn from their intellectual errors and logical lapses.

        It’s been unusual for the post authors to engage in the comments section. As a commenter who has been stood corrected by the commentariat, however, it has been a privilege to have my arguments torn apart by smart people who know more than me.

        A similar thing happens with craftspeople and artists I know. Michael E. Gerber wrote about it – if you are successful, at a certain point you can’t do everything. The first breakpoint for the artists I’ve known is having someone else do the accounting. But the interwebs evolve so fast that simple solutions to expand become unruly.

        Yves and Lambert, stay healthy. Be well.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s a great point.

          We don’t always do it, or I don’t l always do it, but it’s good to learn from others, and let the ideas/arguments become better ideas/arguments (I wanted to say MY or OUR ideas/arguments, but I remembered my own belief that ideas/arguments belonged to no one – they existed on their own).

          Yves, Lambert and others work hard to make this a great site, the best. It’s really a privilege to be able to comment and exchange opinions/ideas on interesting, thought-provoking articles by our hosts, guess hosts and also those in the links section. Thanks and take care.

      3. EmilianoZ

        he ran out of Hannah Arendt quotes.

        LOL! Yep. He had to resort to reading her correspondence, but he only learned about how Heidegger liked his socks ironed.

        1. H. Alexander Ivey

          This is what I’ll will miss! craazyman, craazyboy, FBeard (showing my age), DownSouth, vlade,

          But I agree with Yves, the noise to hit ratio is too high, too costly to keep up (had to find some econ issue to post about – haha).

          Best of luck to all, and to all, a good night.

          1. Lambert Strether

            I wish people would stop mourning comments as such. The post states clearly, and a glance at the sidebar will show, that some commenting is still permitted, and where.

      4. jonboinAR

        “I personally experienced ad-hominem barbs and a refusal to engage in thoughtful way with the logic I presented — sometimes by post authors!”
        That was just some of us trying to match your style.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      We liked From Mexico in both his incarnations (he was previously Down South) but over time he became more proprietary and starting arguing with readers who took issue with him in a way that violated house rules. We told him via e-mail that that was not on, even for a contributor that was valued. Both times, he immediately quit commenting. And mind you, we were very clear that we wanted him to tone down the harshness of some of his responses, not stop commenting.

      1. casino implosion

        In his last book, he had gotten to the point of arguing that antebellum Southern society was superior to modern neoliberal capitalism. A tinge of hysteria had crept into his tone and that was probably leaking over here.

  13. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you, Yves and Lambert, for extending readers a venue for comment for many years. Stay well.

  14. jrs

    I suppose I read comments (of course I don’t read all the comments here, noone does) not actually for silliness, though whatever that exits and may be amusing at times, and perhaps partly for the socializing, but partly I just like to see how others process political understanding, and partly to get peoples thoughts on “what is to be done”, what we can do to change our society (with an eye to the U.S. because I’m in the U.S.). But then the U.S. may be a society least capable of positive change of just about any of them. It’s certainly seems a very authoritarian etc. society. More stuff rubs me that way about it than ever. Most people seem to still mostly believe in the country etc.. If I had a garden to tend I would probably tend it about now. If politics is just some graduate degree program, but there is little we can do that seems to have much influence, I don’t know that I ever wanted a degree in that subject and there are more amusing past times.

    The left (or even some not on the left but anyone with legitimate criticisms of the status quo but some of those legitimate criticism are definitely leftish) needs a movement but hasn’t got much. We can’t even keep decent websites alive and websites are of course not a movement. Most of my favorite political bloggers no longer blog anymore or barely. A fine polemicist like Chris Hedges, however compromised he may or may not be, is shouting at people not even processing his points at the backwater that is truthdig. Firedoglake is amateur hour now with all citizen journalist all the time. That’s harsh I know as even citizen journalists are probably putting in an immense amount of work to make it possible and it would be worse without them, but FDL has gone downhill since the Discuss comments were introduced. Counterpunch is the same mixed bag it’s always been, that’s ok I can take the bad with the good there. And now no comments on this site :(

      1. Ulysses

        “There will still be comments, just not on all posts.”

        Important point! I think certain post authors, like Joe Firestone, really appreciated the opportunity to engage with us out here in the peanut gallery. Others, maybe less so.

        I can see how draining it would be to wade through a lot of rubbish, simply in order to maintain the opportunity for some more thoughtful comments to add to the discussion. The Water Cooler introduction, a while back, signaled to me that a change like this might eventually happen. There are plenty of important subjects available there, and in the Links, to allow us long-winded blowhards, who like to comment, the opportunity to practice our rhetorical skills!

        I applaud both Yves and Lambert for their patience with us, out here in the peanut gallery, for all this time. I hope that this change allows Yves, in particular, the chance to recover a more fully positive feeling about this important service that she provides to an international audience!

  15. JohnB

    Has this change in the comments section been developing for long? It may be that the chaff is a temporary audience that may not be interested in the site (certainly if some of it seems dedicated to ad hominem and countering site narrative, it doesn’t seem like a part of the core audience), so a break from active comments, with it possibly returning later, may provide the necessary reset to restore site comments.

    I’ve been a reader for a long time but have not read or engaged with the comments a whole lot, so am not aware enough to have followed the change.

  16. Carl

    Thank you so much for this fantastic service. How hard you work is very evident and completely astonishing. Do what you must to care for yourselves. We need you.

  17. Ben Johannson

    Probably for the best. The numbers of those who don’t wish to think or discuss but bleat out “Here I am!” over and again has grown progressively worse in the last year. The only way I can imagine this changing is bringing in committed comments moderators combined with some kind of rigorous registration system, both presenting considerable challenges in their own rights.

    Maybe an additional fundraising goal.

  18. charles 2

    My first reaction was : your house, your rules and your health is indeed paramount.

    My second reaction was : I know you are going to think it is market fetichism, but why not put a price to comments (like a dollar per comment, payable in advance through the tip jar) ? Of course, this wouldn’t be a license for abuse, but it would reinforce the right message, which is that work, in this case moderation, merits a just reward.

    1. Steve H.

      Lambert: I really do believe that my mother had it right: “Do what only you can do.”

      Your idea is as good as any I’ve seen concerning moderation. But every site with moderators that I know of has had kerfuffles and administrative go-rounds. This seems more like Yves and Lambert cutting back to do what only they can do.

    2. rusti

      This is a curious idea. Is there any precedent for this? I can see a few potential pitfalls in that it could dramatically ramp up the sense of entitlement that anyone would have if faced with moderation. And it might also act to repress dissenting voices which, when it’s more than a one-line talking point, serve a useful purpose when bad ideas are taken to task.

      I’ll have to reach deeper in my pocket book for the fund raiser this year, I hope Yves understands the level of appreciation for both her work and the community that she has formed.

    3. old_felix

      How about making the first comment free and pay increasing amounts as the number of comments on the same post increases?

  19. Michael

    Do what’s right for you, obviously. I don’t imagine there’s enough money for a comments moderator?

  20. Disturbed Voter

    Understandable. The occasional poster had interesting material to share … but the articles/choice of news … is most valuable as well, and has links to “other material” itself. Get well.

  21. bindlestiff

    I’m glad you are taking some measures to protect your and Lambert’s sanity and health! While I’ll miss some of the back and forth, I did wonder how much of the degredation appearing in the comments was targeted disruption, and how much just a side effect of a natural process of internet discussions.

    Recover and keep up the good work please!

  22. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Sorry to hear this, it does seem that moderated commenting is a dying phenomenon. This site has the highest quality commenters I’ve ever read, so if it can’t work here it probably can’t work anywhere.

  23. Sam Adams

    Sorry to read this change. I often learn more about a subject in the comments than I do solely from the posted article. This site and many commentators have framed and informed my opinions on a wide range of subjects. I do hope that doesn’t change.

  24. Larry

    I suppose it’s beyond the resources of this blog, buy emulating the Gawker system of commenting might be a way to go. You take approved commenters and have their comments always appear. They have the right to star comments that are not visible unless you choose to view all comments. The starred comments then become visible to all. I would assume there must be at least 20-30 regular commenters who could fill this roll. Will Denton let you use his Kinja?

  25. Nadia69

    From the Southern tip of Africa I’ve watched, learned and thought deeply about the many, many and varied issues raised on this site. It will be sad to see a change but our heart is with your need. People first we say. Thank you for keeping us young in thought and mature in deed as we traverse the new-new normal.

  26. MartyH

    I am sorry to hear that it has become so overwhelming. Thanks for dealing with it for so long … but the regrettable change is understandable.

    I look forward to supporting the work of the base articles and appreciate all the effort that goes into the site.

  27. hemeantwell

    Sorry to read this change. I often learn more about a subject in the comments than I do solely from the posted article. This site and many commentators have framed and informed my opinions on a wide range of subjects. I do hope that doesn’t change.

    Well said, Sam Adams.

    I’m sad that this is necessary, but I can appreciate your frustration and fatigue, having myself tried to manage a forum a while back.

    It’s hard to come up with suggestions that don’t violate some principle of open communication, but I wonder about maintaining a pool of, ahem, certified commenters along with some method for augmenting the pool, e.g. good comments on the open posts. ?

  28. ambrit

    I’m sorry to see this happen, but it is a logical result of the growth of Naked Capitalism. While, I assume, originally conceived of as a niche site, (all economics all of the time,) it has grown into a more general place of gathering for many who consider themselves as “progressive,” with a few ‘loyal opposition’ commenters for leavening. Scaling up problems ensued.
    A return to a more focused mission for the site is logical and necessary. Many of the commenters, myself most definitely included, fell into the trap of thinking that the site was here for us, and not the other way around. Similarly, the site hosts seem to have fallen into the trap of approaching the maintenance of the site as a ‘calling’ rather than as a task. Everyone needs to step back and rebalance their lives.
    Thank you for having let us be a part of a genuine “happening.”
    Take care of yourselves. Nothing else really maters until you have done that.

  29. John Zelnicker

    I am sorry the comments section has deteriorated to the point where this is the solution. However, as so many commenters today have said, Yves and Lambert staying in good health is more important. NC is my first stop in the morning with my coffee and frequently my last stop at night before bed. And, although I will miss the relevant, well written comments, I have to agree with Yves that there seem to be more junk comments lately than in the past. I won’t miss those at all.

  30. aliteralmind

    what about some volunteer moderators? You only allowed people really trust to do it. I imagine there’s at least a few people on the site might be going to give it a go.

    1. Code Name D


      It’s your decision of course. But don’t pretend this is your only option.

      First, NC was never a quality forum (mechanically speaking, not content wise.) If most comments seem like rubber-necks, its because that is how the forum has been set up. It’s not possible to have long term or managed conversation here because the infrastructure doesn’t allow it.

      Second, you have a substantial base commentators that are more than willing and able to step up and take on responsibility.

      Lambert once complained that he is tracking so many subjects that he can’t really do much with any of them. To which I commented that he might want to recruit writers to expand the commentary of NC and expand to more subject areas.

      In the same way, readers can be recruited to be moderators. Frankly, I am kind of astonished you hadn’t already done this.

      The last bog I was a writer for actually had a strict policy of separation. Writers could not be moderators. This prevented the writers from over reacting to criticism as well as freed them of to write. Moderators were supervised by the editors of the sight which set the standers for both the writers and the moderators.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I suspect, mainly from things Yves has said, that the limitation is resources, both personal and technical. She has complained about the limitations of the site architecture; while I have zero expertise on that, some of it is obvious as a user: for instance, there is no registration system. That comes down both to money, and to the personal cost of changing the system (as in many days and much aggravation).

        NC, Yves, and Lambert really deserve a bigger platform. It’s one of the very best sites around. I’ll commit to sending them a bit of money, though I don’t have much, but probably either a special fundraising campaign (more days and aggravation) or an angel are called for.

    2. EmilianoZ

      Yes, make moderation like peer review. Each comment is sent to 3 reviewers. Then an editor makes the decision to publish or not based on the 3 reviews. The editor can also encourage the author of the comment to make major revisions and resubmit within 6 weeks beyond which deadline it’s considered a new comment.

  31. jonboinAR

    Thank you all for everything you’ve done and continue doing. With all sincerity, Jon Strait. (jonboinAR)

  32. Eric Patton

    I agree with your change. I am saddened that you have to do this, but I understand it. Truly, I do.

  33. vlade

    Yves, I totally agree, and you know that I advocated that two years ago. So all I can say is that I really really appreciate, and admire, that you managed to run with it for two more years, when it must have been getting worse instead of better.

  34. Romancing the Loan

    I do remember Lambert getting awfully huffy and dismissive with me once when I asked in all seriousness what happens to a country that gets a judgment under the TPP but refuses to pay. I think he thought I was trying to defend the TPP in some way? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s time, is what I’m saying.

    I also wonder if this site is a regular target of professional trolls (mayflies would be a great name, since they swarm) of the variety shown on that article about Russia’s propagandists a while back. In particular this is one of the few places you can go to get criticism of Democrats from the left on the ACA or financial crimes enforcement. That must piss off some deep pockets.

  35. Tyler

    “One of the things that has been most distressing is the apparent distaste of many of the newbies for nuanced, non-binary …”

    Ugh, sounds like some of the newbies have been partisans. I totally sympathize, Yves and Lambert. Hang tough, and thank you so much for all you do. I absolutely adore this site. I visit every day. :)

  36. Jerry

    Now I’ll have time to read more of the posts! I often read comments to the end so as to get the most from any post I had read, but did not read all the posts.

    Here’s some internet history: When the blogger Billmon closed comments at his Whiskey Bar blog about ten years ago, his commentariat opened their own site so as to continue the conversation. That still exists at Moon of Alabama.

    1. Paul Boisvert

      Yes, this sort of separate “comment” blog is an obvious solution. A group of comment-lovers from the “commentariat” could set up their own basic blog, “TalkinBout NC”, put up an initial starter comment on each story on that day’s NC, and let people reply away on this separate site to their hearts’ content. Whether it generates interesting stuff or ugly blather then becomes the problem of the group, but not of Yves and Lambert.

      1. thoughtful person

        A comment site. Interesting possible solution!

        My way of dealing with excessive comments is to skip down to the next ones, and I have found the commentariat to be a valuable part of this site.

        Just recently there was the Hoffman article, and someone posted about Pierre Bordieu (might have spelling wrong), which I think I will someday follow up on, after I finish listening to Revolutions podcast and the History of Rome one too.

        1. Ulysses

          This NC oriented comment-site does sound like an intriguing idea. Perhaps those who would enjoy it might begin exploring how best to set it up!

  37. LaRuse

    This is so unfortunate, but understandable and probably unavoidable. NC may be the ONLY site where I break my self-imposed rule of “Never Read The Comments Section” because since 2008, when I first found NC, the comments usually helped flesh out a topic, provide prospective different from my own, or other sources to go read into and expand my views. There are specific commentators who I look for with interest or for a completely different perspective or political viewpoint from my own. I may not agree with them, but I value their views because they challenge (or support) my own.

    With all that said, I have noticed recently that I have limited most of my Comments reading to the Links and Water Cooler posts. As you noted, most everything else has the tendency to break down into toxic trolling.

    Yves, I am just a nobody who has admired and appreciated your site and contributions for almost 8 years, and all I want is the best for you and for NC to continue to be the high quality source of information that it is. And all I want for you is enjoyment, peace, and good health. Best wishes to you.

  38. Geoff

    Generally speaking, though I fnd myself drawn to a half dozen relevant blogs and the intelligent authors who manage them, I often learn more from the comments than I do from the posts. Presenting as they do myriad refections on the topics and different ways to interpret them.

    Of course many comments also present the subtle views of an opposing point of view. I’m troubled by ad hominem attacks and by “trolls” as much as the next reader, but, up to a point, many of these troubling posts help me to a better more reasoned understanding regardless of how difficult they may be to digest.

  39. Heather

    It’s a dilemma, how to exclude the lunatic fringe, while leaving room for the thoughtful, balanced comments. If it takes too much of your time to administer, well, so be it. Life’s too short to waste on fools. Thanks for your wonderful blog.

  40. Roquentin

    I’m sure the choice has already been made, but perhaps you could get one of the major commentators to do modding pro bono? Just a thought. I’m sure there’s people reading the blog who would be willing to help out in that regard.

    I don’t comment all that often, but they were usually at least worth reading. I’m sure the task of modding this many comments each day was monumental, so I understand completely not wanting to do it anymore.

  41. steelhead23

    While I will miss the comments sections on most posts, I strongly support Yves and we need her to be full of vigor. I support your decision. Reporting is much more important than moderating comments.

  42. mad as hell.

    Pay to play. Start charging x amount a year to post. I like many find the comments section, the best of all the comment sections on the internet. I have spent hours a week reading and learning some truly insightful comments. You do not get these kind of intelligent comments on many if any sites.

    People will complain about having to pay. However if any reader has learned anything from this site it is that you get what you pay for. Whether it’s government, health care, policy, politicians. etc. Having skin in the game( or skins) shows you want positive results.

    The crazy comments would drop dramatically if the individual would have to pay x bucks a year to post. I just shot myself in the foot however I’ll accept that in lieu of having this site begin to start to ending it’s comments section.

    I for one would give $20 a year for my 2 cents!

    1. Roquentin

      I could see doing that too. It isn’t so much the money itself as it is a deterrent. Only people who were somewhat serious about commenting would want to pay.

      On the other hand, it could backfire. What if someone who wrote nothing but awful, spiteful things paid the cash. Wouldn’t he feel like he was entitled to post any kind of garbage he felt like? There’d be an attitude of “I paid my money and I can do what I damn well please.” In the wrong hands, that totally wouldn’t be healthy.

      1. mad as hell.

        Good point.
        You are right.
        Spoken like a true economist , which this site will attract.

        “on the other hand”.

      2. jonboinAR

        1) The payment for the privilege to comment is non-refundable. Make it a decent amount: $80 or $100 per year or something.
        2) The mods can kick you out at any time. Follow some rule such as 3 posts having to be deleted in 3 months will get you banned.
        3) Did I say you don’t get your money back?

        I think that would keep most on the straight and narrow and the few real trolls wouldn’t likely be around for long.

        1. sd

          Salon TableTalk developed an effective commenting system. It eventually became subscription based to post comments. One of the great features for a subscriber was the ability to “hide” the comments of commenters you just didn’t like. The public could still read all of the comments, but subscribers got a sort of fast lane that allowed them to speed past commenters they had hidden. And only the subscriber knew who they had hidden. It was not public knowledge.

          I could see such a system working well on NC. My guess though is that it would be expensive.

          I will miss reading everyone’s comments. In particular, I will miss the gallows humor.

        2. Ian

          You could just tie it in to the tip jar and monthly donators, I am aware that many sites do that extension of privilege to contributors. That in it self would greatly reduce the volume. And for intransigent offenders, simply refuse their donation.

          1. Ian

            You could tie it in to the tip jar and monthly donators, I am aware that many sites do that extension of privilege to contributors. That in it self would greatly reduce the volume. And for intransigent offenders, simply refuse their donation.

            1. Ian

              M y recreation of an entirely different comment that is now the duplicate comment got lost. Ah well. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I have nothing but love and respect for you, Yves, Lambert and the various contributers and commentors that have been so instrumental in the expansion of my knowledge and understanding. Be well and healthy.

    2. Lil'D

      Well, does pay to play lead to our very own Citizens United? It’s a disincentive to comment and the wealthier trolls can then play to their hearts content since their agenda isn’t insightful discussion.

      Not sure what else might work. Earning your way to a particular level of status? I wonder if a hierarchy of commenters would fly? Yves at the top, then a cluster of “tenured” commenters, then “senior”, “junior”, “provisional” and “noob”…? noobs can read but only post in, say, links. provisional can post once/day.
      juniors can post freely but are subject to banning, downvote, whatever from more senior commenters.
      I like to be part of the elite, it would make me feel good to earn my way up to platinum senior status.

    3. Greg

      Agree – the comments section is very informative, provides perspectives I’d never think of. A subscription and to have the comments continue would be fine with me. Wishing you well most of all.

    4. vidimi

      this wouldn’t work because it doesn’t solve the ideological problem. yves states that part of the reason she’s closing comments is to keep ideas from getting hi-jacked. having people pay for commenting priviliges would only entitle people to most more of what they like.

    5. Ben Johannson

      Actually that’s not a bad idea, although I suspect implementation would not be without difficulties. No idea how much effort would have to go into creating a premium level of access for subscribers.

  43. Vatch

    I understand the need for this, and I’m sorry if I contributed to this problem. I often like to include a link or two in my comments, and that increases the likelihood that a comment will be routed to the moderation queue. Sorry about that.

    Keep up the good work!

  44. First comment

    With no disrespect to Yves or Lambert intended, your comments section is a huge attraction for people like me. When cognoscenti such as Michael Hudson weigh in I pay close attention. The typical level of sophistication of comments here is IMO unrivaled elsewhere on the internet.

    Take care.

  45. Darrell Anderson

    You have made the correct decision. Please keep emphasizing quality information – and thanks.

  46. TarheelDem

    Sad. Understandable. And another datapoint in the decline of real democratic political and economic discourse in the US. More than the electoral process is broken.

  47. Chad

    I’m on board with pay-to-comment, the comments here are so good it’s half the reason I visit.

  48. The Insider

    I find the change to be understandable, but at the same time unfortunate. Although the internet has offered such tremendous potential for a truly open discussion, it feels like the actual number of places on the internet you can go for unrestricted free speech goes down by the day. We’ve transitioned from a media tightly controlled by a few large outlets to a media tightly controlled by a thousand thousand site owners. Progress?

    One note: I have to protest against the Popular Science quote you posted, which is distinctly undemocratic in tone. There are ways to make the argument for why a publication’s comments section should be moderated without expressing a profound contempt for public opinion the way the author of that quote did. “If you carry those results to their logical end”, you get something that looks a lot like democracy, which Popular Science (ironically) appears to have no interest in promoting.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please read the our sites Policies. This is not a democracy. Neither is Popular Science. This is private, hosted space. This is effectively my private salon and I set the rules. You may not like that but that is the nature of the beast. I’ve tried to have as open a comments section as possible but this is in no way, shape or form a democracy.

    2. abynormal

      “Saturated Arrogance

      …imprisoned muses
      cried to be free
      she took away their quills
      and said
      do not bother me…”

      Muse, Enigmatic Evolution

      over n out, Aby.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes. please e-mail us. I hate all of the typos and sometimes bad links we have. Help in cleaning them up is very much appreciated!

      Put “Typo” in the subject line, that will make sure we get to it faster.

  49. Garrett Pace

    I’d appreciate some clarity about

    They are not an alternate venue for offering your views on posts where comments are closed.

    On the Links posts I am accustomed to seeing new subjects introduced that didn’t relate to any of the links that day. Will we get banned for talking about things that happen to be the subjects of closed posts, or just for referring to the post’s author and specific arguments?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There is a huge difference between saying, “Oh here is a breaking news story” or “oh here is a a link or line of thought related to some of the links” versus, say if we ran a story on guns as another post, using Links or Water Cooler to make a comment about that post when we have no links on guns that day and there is no breaking news story related to that comment. I am pretty confident it will be obvious when comment is a desire to start a conversation in another post about a post where comments are closed.

  50. ExtraT

    I have to confess that very often I just skim the posted article and read more carefully the comments. Now, when the comments are off, there will be a big information gap in my daily reading. There is no site that I know off with comparable readership and comments quality. Sad!

  51. RUKidding

    Too bad but most understandable. I will still visit just as often due to the high quality posts. I do enjoy the comments, but that is not my main reason for reading this site daily.

    Thanks, Yves & Lambert! You are both TOPS in my book.

    And please keep up the pressure & reporting on CalPers. That is said from my own selfish interests as a contributer & future annuitant. But as goes CalPers, so also may go other big pension funds. Some changes for the better have occurred at CalPers, and I truly believe some of that has happened due to your hard work here on those issues. Thanks for that, especially!!!!

  52. PQS

    Yves – don’t be saddened to have to change your policy. It is, as others have noted, part of the growth (not “groaf”!) of the site and a testament to your efforts and the efforts of Lambert and the other members of the team to produce and distribute good quality material with enough meat for people to tear off. I always, always learn something here, and I visit every day as my general news site. I also deeply appreciate the intelligent commentariat which is truly affirming in the garbage patch that is the internet. Filtering out more garbage can only be a net good. Especially if it helps maintain your superhero schedule.

  53. tegnost

    Thanks for all you do, health first, a regular sleep pattern will hopefully soon return to you

  54. knowbuddhau

    A hit, a most palpable hit. I’ve often wondered how you two do it. I’m agog at the amount of work you put in on this site, as well as your other efforts. A deep bow in your virtual directions.

    I came here most likely from mentions by Pepe Escobar. I stayed for the interplay in the comments. I most appreciate the parallax of opposing views. I’ve learned a great deal, and for that, another deep bow.

    Take care of your selves. We’ll be fine :)

  55. Adrienne Adams

    Very understandable decision. I, too, am one of your readers who looks forward to additional insights provided by commentators. But I completely understand your position. I spend way too much time on Facebook, which at times can be a social sewer. Just last week I had to block an entire branch of my family due to toxic religious attitudes. It’s simply bad for one’s health to let so much negativity and ignorance into one’s head.

    Be well, Yves, and thank you for everything.

  56. AQ

    I appreciate the post but find it very ironic given the post from a few weeks ago regarding lack of commentary on important topics.

    I come for the initial posts but I do read the commentary to get more depth and understanding. I generally don’t read the commentary at other places at all so the loss here makes me sad, especially since a lot of the links others provided within the commentary were also quite good. I get it. though. And it’s all good. Just means I’ll have more time to spend elsewhere.

    Thanks for the space and the in-depth work you and Lambert do. Well done!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I can understand why this decision might seem confusing when compared to our post of a month ago. But these were two very separate issues.

      We’d put up post on finance topics, often but not always private equity, often original reporting, which readers had said strongly in the last fundraiser that they really wanted.

      They’d get 2-7 comments. These posts were on topics that have the potential to have policy impact, due to NC’s readership and recognized expertise.

      By contrast, we’d put up posts from TomDispatch, generally on matters geopolitical that do intersect with finance but at only the highest level (like how come the US can always find the money for the next bomb run in the MIddle East but our we can’t find the money to fund Social Security in 2035?) and they’d get at least 30 comments, and generally 60-120. And NC as a site has no cred or following on those topics.

      Anyone looking at the site would look at the comparatively tiny numbers on the technical but finance-policy-important posts and conclude that the public didn’t care, that even if NC was right, if our own readers didn’t appear to be interested, why should they worry?

      We are going to keep the comments section open on original reporting.

      1. Paul Boisvert

        Hi, Yves,
        Well, perhaps you’ve done your titular job only too well… :) As you so expertly lay out (late) Capitalism, Naked, for all to see its steadily increasing, corrupt, and massively undemocratic misuse of power by private financial interests, eventually the specific details become…routine, boring. The blog has made crystal clear the complete capture of both major US parties (and hence of US economic and political–and geopolitical–power) by private finance, and the resulting carte blanche that US (and global) capital enjoys to run and ruin the country and world. Until that changes, any specific financial obscenity’s details will seem of little import to most.

        It’s the entire capitalist system that is dysfunctional, from head to toe–but people don’t need to immerse themselves in stories of corrupt private equity deals to understand that. Rather, they can just ask the questions that you and NC so laudably and persistently ask: why money for war but not the elderly or sick, why do half our urban populations, “coincidentally” people of color, live in 3rd world conditions, why is life for the 80% constantly less secure, why is our culture all hateful, humiliating spectacle with no critical content, why is an atavistic fool like T. Rump polling second…

        The horror is everywhere, as your many non-finance posts and links so admirably illustrate, and equity deals just aren’t box office by comparison. Geopolitics, by contrast, is where the cash ultimately hits the fan, and the details remain often fairly spectacularly interesting–war, terror, police states, beheadings, famine, depression, the slow rise of fascism once again… I don’t think you can blame readers for taking the financial intricacies as given–they will continue endlessly unless Bernie instigates socialism on his 2nd day in office–which I think we all agree is at most a 50/50 chance… :)

        So keep up the great work–as a socialist and educator, NC is the first and best blog I read every day, and your (completely understandable) changes in the comments policy certainly won’t alter that. Personally, I just ignore ugly or blathering ones, but I understand your take on it. And I know you love finance stuff, and it is your blog, so all kudos on that aspect as well. But if you’re going to show that the emperor is naked, don’t expect many people to stay very interested in his every little wart and mole–my hope is that they will eventually start to wonder why we’ve allowed this nutcase to be our emperor in the first place…

  57. DolleyMadison

    I love (most of) the comments – especially Hugh, Abynormal, Chauncey and many others…but I understand. I made a fairly innocuous comment on a HuffPo blog basically saying free birth control is slim comfort if you can’t afford insurance at all or your deductibles are so high to render it useless and I was accused of hating women and told to “suck a big fat d*ck” – so I get it. Nuance and balanced arguments are lost on most folks. I LOVE you guys and will continue to visit daily and post links to your page every chance I get. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO.

  58. RabidGandhi

    I too am one of those longtime lurkers who came in from the shadows when Yves made the post about not enough of us participating. Frankly the quality of discussion here has always been so high (best on the ‘net) that I did not feel qualified to add much. In that regard, I hope my contributions have not soiled (or contributed to soiling) the waters.

    Either way, to echo most here: many thanks to Yves and Lambert et. al., and please do not feel in any way guilty for prioritising your physical/mental health.

    1. Lambert Strether

      That post was a call for participation on original reporting. People may still commment there, as well as in Links and Water Cooler (as qualified in the post).

      1. RabidGandhi

        OK let me put it another way. I followed this site for a couple of years and my original inkling was always: “hey I’m no economist, I have no business posting”. But when it seemed Yves was concerned about reader apathy, I started posting. And I have enjoyed being able to put up ideas and get some feedback.

        Now I’m wondering if my original inkling may have been correct: that us less-qualified folks detract from the “value-added quality” of the site by just causing more noise and more work for you two. This makes me think I should post less even on original reporting/watercooler/links, which I’m cool with: whatever you two think is best for the site. Either way, the goal should be maintaining the quality of the site because I think so much of us readers here thrive off of it.

        1. John Zelnicker

          RabidGhandi – I don’t think it is about “less-qualified” commenters. It is about commenters who continually present strawman arguments, launch ad hominen attacks and continue to make the same arguments after they have been demonstrably refuted. I have been seeing a lot of disrespectful argumentation in Yves amazingly thorough coverage of the Greek debacle. There were commenters who just would not give up their arguments, no matter how completely they had been debunked. And Yves kept her temper better than I could have.

          I believe if you stay relevant and respectful, and are willing to admit when you are wrong, your comments will be welcome.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Yes, John is correct on that. It’s the mode of discussion far more than the supposed sophistication of the comment. I don’t alway have time to respond to them all, but it’s not the “wait a sec, this isn’t clear to me” or “this seems like X, am I wrong” or “isn’t what you are saying here inconsistent with what you said in Y post two days ago” that are an issue. Sometimes we haven’t been clear enough in what we wrote, and some of this material is dense, so I don’t mind clearing things up up to a point (as in if you ask something where you could find the answer on Google easily, I’m less likely to respond than it it’s a technical issue that the press and the economic literature is unclear or misleading).

            Another related issue we’ve seen of late is a big uptick of comments by people who have not read the post, or at least not beyond the headline and first paragraph, but still feel entitled to comment on it and demonstrate that they did not bother to read it in full.

  59. PhilK

    I completely understand and sympathize with the new policy.

    It seems to me that over the last several years, the comments here have been increasingly characterized by cynicism, impotent rage and free-floating hostility. I’m afraid that, given the transparent disregard and contempt TPTB display for the former citizenry, any outlet for open and mildly-moderated comment will eventually be overwhelmed by such reactions — reactions that were formerly (and much more appropriately) directed to the people alleged to be “public servants”.

    I’m going to take the new policy as a suggestion and an invitation to direct my own rage more at “my” representatives and less at Yves, Lambert and the choir.

    1. Vatch

      “former citizenry” – I like that phrase, although the concept is rather frightening.

  60. Kurt Sperry

    I like the whitelist or ‘pay to say’ ideas, you’d obviously see a massive diminution of the amount of human resources required for moderation and spam filtering under such a scheme. I think however when I put the idea forward some time back the Lambert said that the WP software wasn’t amenable to such methods. Either scheme though risks creating a walled garden with a one way gate as people trickle out over time and aren’t replaced.

    I may be alone here but reading this I am more than anything else cheered and heartened to hear that, “We’ve been inundated by new readers”. That’s a measure of the site’s success, and perhaps a measure of people generally beginning to realize the folly of our vicious neoliberal status quo and seeking out others who have come to similar realizations. I feel a shift in the political winds and this site has no doubt been a contributing factor to that. The quality of both the reportage and the reader commentary here is, as far as I can tell, at the very pinnacle of what’s available on the ‘net. In fact that’s precisely what led me here and what continues to keep me as a daily reader.

    If commenting were shut down altogether I’d probably lose interest in the site however. The whole potential of the ‘net as a communication tool rests on its potential for interactivity. Lacking that it becomes for me a passive medium, like sitting in a pew powerlessly watching a preacher giving a sermon or watching television. I’m not interested in being part of a site with that dynamic. That belongs to the past, not to any future I want to be a part of.

  61. Oldeguy

    Two reactions:
    1 ) Yves’ stress ( and distress ) were increasingly coming through loud and clear in her replies to comments. Something had to give, and this was the outcome. She is far too valuable a resource to be impairing her health playing whack a mole with ignorant fools.
    2 ) I first came to NC in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse and found it to be a gold mine of lucid instruction for what was actually happening and why it was happening.
    The posts were wonderful and the commentary was erudite, cogent and tightly focused on target.
    I never commented myself back then, because I was acutely aware of my limitations- it was more than sufficient to follow the thinking of those far better versed than I was.
    When the Greek Debt Crisis prompted a return to very careful reading of NC ( as opposed to my daily skim for Links and Posts ) , I was dismayed by the decline in the quality of much of the commentary.
    I actually felt comfortable enough to comment myself. Any financial blog where the level of discourse is low enough for that to happen probably needs to discontinue comments- the old Groucho Marx joke about his refusing to join any Club which would have him as a member.

  62. Steven

    You gotta do what you gotta do. I will, however, miss the comments. It is where I get a huge number of references for further reading. I can’t help wondering if there isn’t some way to offload more of the work of moderation onto your readers. David Henderson’s suggestion, of peer-to-peer grading might be the place to start. In addition to grading comments, readers could be given the responsibility of honing a particular line of argument inquiry down to manageable proportions.

    This whole process could be taken off-line to a Google or Yahoo list-server discussion group where the chaff could be separated from content with nutritional value. Yves and Lambert get to decide which is which – or do nothing as time permits.

    Whatever way this develops, thanks for the mind-boggling amount of work you have both put into this site!

    1. Lambert Strether

      There will still be commments; read the post again.

      I understand the argument on more moderators, but that involves management time at a minimum. It’s not without friction.

      1. Steven

        I did get the part about there still being comments. Maybe the best thing for us, your readers, to do is just shut up and see how the new policy plays out.

        RE: more moderators – the idea is to get you and Yves out of the management business more or less entirely. If commenters can’t manage themselves the idea is probably a non-starter. So one of the ratings buttons could be labeled ‘Ready for prime time’ i.e. you and Yves.

        P.S. I hope my response doesn’t play to fears of being trapped in an endless cycle of responding to people who don’t have a clue about the subject under discussion – in this case managing a blog like Naked Capitalism.

  63. TheCatSaid

    Yves & Lambert,

    All you do is much appreciated. Take care of your health as a first priority.
    Your own contributions come first–please continue the degree of detailed, lucid, top-quality research on the topics about which you are each most interested and informed.

    Your responses in the comments often clarify in important ways and create interaction I respect and value. Your responses also educate about non-financial matters, e.g., pointing out a straw-man argument, and explaining.

    The links, resources and diverse points of view shared by other commenters are also a big part of the site’s value. Paid moderators could help, and be a good fund-raising target, as long as the site would not become an echo-chamber. I’d be disappointed if “those who can afford to pay more get to have their voices heard more” in the comments.

    1. djrichard

      On this same theme, sometimes the prison inmates just want to be heard. Not that I necessarily need NC to be that; there’s other places where I go for that.

      In the case of NC, I come to learn more than share my opinion. And I particularly value the broader rendering of the landscape by reading through the commentary. Those that are “off the reservation” show that there’s even more landscape beyond the horizon.

      1. djrichard

        P.S. at the end of the day, sentiment is a game, as Ben Hunt has made clear over at . What drives us crazy is that it’s a game we can’t avoid playing. So we seek ways to participate in this game as best we can (whether scrupulous or not ;-p). Again, I look to other sites to do battle in the game of sentiment.

  64. Steven

    Paid moderators could help

    I’m not sure there is a substitute for the ‘real thing’, especially when it comes to providing comment on comments. I would certainly be game for ponying up if Yves and Lambert think they could come up with people who could do what they do (almost) as well as they do it. But it appears the solution – if there is one – will involve making the best use of scarce resources.

  65. Pat

    Yves & Lambert,

    I appreciate greatly the comment section you have fostered here. I learned to appreciate the comments early on, as my lack of economic background meant I was sometimes at sea as to what an article was saying. As people began discussing and/or debating points in the comments it would often become much clearer. I grew to respect them even more as it became clearer how informed and diverse the readership is.

    If I have contributed to the problem, please accept my deepest apologies. As others have said, your health is the most important factor here. If we have fewer comment streams, so be it. I’m sure the ones we do get will be choice.

    Thank you both so much.

  66. Paul Tioxon

    Live and learn. Protect yourself first while building a community for a thinking democracy. You can’t participate in a larger community if you are too sick from overwork to get around or write or speak out, and of the worse kind of overload from the irrelevant. This IS your site, YOUR territory! Do what you will, shall be the whole its law.

  67. Arizona Slim

    I hear ya. Used to allow comments on my itty-bitty blog. But, like so many other things, the spammers ruined it. So, no more comments for this camper.

  68. LAS

    Dear Yves,

    You made the right decision. We will continue to read you just the same. Thanks so much for being you!

  69. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

    Yves, I know the decision was a tough one to make, but that something had to give. Your compromise on commenting is a good one.

    So, good luck with the new arrangement to the two hardest working people on the internet. I’m sure it will work out well for the rest of us too. Your insistence on quality will still out and this site will continue to be a must visit every, single, day.

  70. Anthony

    Great decision!

    It seems in today’s age human stupidity and banality grow exponentially with the spread of the freedom of expression. Rarely does one witness any more sophisticated/clever/polite readers’ comments. Call me old fashion, but it’s lack of class!

  71. Gio Bruno

    Yves and Lambert;

    I get it. I love the NC website, but sleeplessness is very unhealthy. So do what you need to do. I’ve become addicted to NC and should probably get more exercise outside. Things change; like the Greeks I’ll adapt.

    Respect your skill, smarts and energy, immensley!

  72. Elizabeth

    Yves and Lambert, I’m a daily reader of NC, and it is tops in my opinion. You absolutely must take care of your health because to lose NC would be a huge loss. Your site has encouraged me to think about critical issues facing our country, and prodded me into action to do my small part.

    The commentariat here is one of the best as far as intelligent comments go. I completely understand that you want to keep it that way. Thank you for all that you do – you both are invaluable.

  73. grayslady

    My two cents: I’d rather see the opportunity for comments be limited than disappear altogether. I have certainly gained from the many different world and regional viewpoints on different subjects. I enjoy reading differing opinions, so long as they are courteous and reasonably supported by personal or documentary evidence.

    That said, I would never be a regular reader of any site, including the commercial press, that advocates an Orwellian approach of “some animals are more equal than other animals”, whether it’s pay-to-play or “trusted” commenters. That’s the kind of behavior that has destroyed what were once previously democratic societies. I find it disconcerting that a number of readers here think that the commenting issue should be resolved by either money or status.

    1. flora

      Yes. I still remember Ronald Reagan’s “I paid for this microphone!” outburst at a 1980 pres debate.

  74. Jess

    No problems here. Didn’t realize how much hassle you were going through but agree it’s not worth it. Besides, personally I think Links, Water Cooler, and original posts will be enough to let the many sharp commenters here (Clive, Swedish Lex, Katniss, Haygood, etc.,) add to the quality of information. This will still be my #1 go-to site.

  75. cripes

    I understand the time invested is too much.
    I hope NC will continue to provide limited commenting options, since one of the great things about the site has been the exceptional level of insight provided by the peanut gallery.

  76. Gottschee

    I am dismayed.

    I am also grateful for your efforts to cull out the grenades and mines from the comments section. I had no idea! Job well done.

    I would like to make a suggestion. I am an occasional reader and commenter on Daily Kos. You can imagine how many trolls and flamethrowers that site attracts. To solve the problem, some contributors and/or frequent commenters were given the privilege of culling the comments sections. To earn this position, one had to fulfill certain requirements–be a registered user, of course, have posted or commented regularly, and have contributed in some meaningful way to the community. For a brief spell, I was one of these.

    Could you look at that alternative? I find the comments here are frequently as stimulating as the posts.

    Thank you again for a site worth a daily visit.

  77. different clue

    Perhaps a roster of known-to-be value-adding commenters may be permitted to keep commenting?
    Guy Faukes always added value with his comments, for example. People considered to be “value-adding” commenters could perhaps be notified of recieving a standing “permission to comment” via e-mail so that persons who do not get such an email will not be overtly named and shamed on this site. And feelings of people who thought they make the grade but really don’t would be somewhat spared.

    . . . just a thought . . .

  78. Joan

    Yves, Lambert, have you considered a “Letters to the Editor” type of feature? It’s worked well for print journalism in the past, and would give you the continued opportunity to engage your readers, but be selective in responding only to those viewpoints who meet the high standards of this site – thoughtful, nuanced, intelligently communicated.

    1. Ulysses

      That sounds like another good idea! No need to let it take up inordinate amounts of time if done only once or twice a week,

  79. Chris Williams

    I’ve been coming here for a long time to get the real news, the real stories.

    But, the main reason I come is to read the comments, particularly in the links.

    Won’t be coming as regularly now, I guess.

    Why don’t you hire a moderator or two?? Trolls and misinformed people, ad-homs etc. they only add to the conversation and can easily be skipped.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to come down on you hard, but do you have any idea how brutally hard Lambert and I work, and how much it would cost for moderation? It would need to be at least two shifts for 7 days a week. And it would have to be a pretty skilled person. We pay our intern $15 an hour plus we cut her into the fundraiser, so she gets closer to $20 an hour. We’d have to pay someone more than that because it wold need to be more dedicated people who were both more seasoned and good writers.

      More important, we’ve told readers repeatedly if they want faster responses on liberating comments from the moderation queue, to write us a very large check. Not a single person has done that. And you apparently aren’t wiling to do that either. Honestly, why should we cater to readers who demand a services they aren’t prepared to pay for?

      Yes, we’d rather have comments. In fact, it was our comments section that enabled us to understand CDOs and break the Magnetar story. But we no longer seem to have many readers who provide insight into how banking and financial regulations work, or at least to the extent they do, they seldom pipe up in comments. While we get some very good political commentary on some of the TomDispatch posts, as a whole the caliber of commentary on the site has been in a linear decline, while it is taking a huge amount of work to try to slow that slide. And that all comes at the expense of doing new posts. The overwhelming majority of readers understand that that is a better use of our time.

      1. Roquentin

        Maybe that’s part of it, that at some point you have to decide how strictly you want to stick to the subject of finance. Do you want this to be a blog where there is a 90/10 focus on finance and economics on a technical level? Or would you rather it was a sort of general news blog where finance was primarily the focus (maybe 60/40)? Just reading this entry and responses like this I get the impression you feel like you’re losing control of tone and content of this blog. You want it to be about finance, economics, and accounting to a much stricter degree than it currently is and the comments section symbolizes the deviation from that for you.

        I guess I’m trying to say this isn’t exclusively about the time you’re sinking into modding, even if that may be the biggest factor. Then again, maybe I’m biased because I am in no way, shape, or form an economist. I majored in English and work in television……

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I see this differently than you do.

          The crisis was the equivalent of throwing a very large object in a pool. The effects are like the waves from that impact. The concentric circles of the effects get larger over time, such as rising income inequality, the ongoing costs (financial and in terms of legitimacy) of failing to hold anyone accountable, the refusal to take adequate measures to deal with systemic risk, the acute stresses in the Eurozone (where even less was done to fix the banks than here), and the failure to address the underlying causes: the use of asset bubbles and leverage as drivers of economic growth, as opposed to wages.

          We don’t do market commentary because there are plenty of sites that aspire to do that, plus it seems even more insane than usual to try to call markets when the Fed and other central banks are trying to, and so far having good success at, manipulating them.

          So our view is that the effects of the crisis have moved finance and economics maters much deeper into the general political sphere than before. Hence the difficulty of identifying the right focus for a thinly staffed site.

      2. just me

        just a thought, but could you ask blog friend Harry Shearer? If he’s not going to be doing the Simpsons, maybe he’d like to take a star turn active moderating here while you rest? I’ve watched him debating in his Twitter stream and he is great. More light, less heat. Wish wish. He does Le Show for free and it’s been a fabulous 30-year gig.

        Oh wait!

        Never mind. But still. Babies and bath water are fun, wouldn’t throw either out.

    2. jonboinAR

      I think the point is why don’t YOU hire a moderator or two for them. This site is in serious need of a sugar daddy. Dang, isn’t there some really, um, financially independent person out there who sees it’s value and is willing to bankroll it? Hint, hint.

  80. Quantum Future

    Wise decision Yves. Did a similar business myself for public service and it burned me out.

    We do what we can. Investors for funding are afraid. That limits what can be done, I’ll spare the details. My thanks to both you and Lambert.

    Kind Regards,

  81. lightningclap

    The tightly-curated comments section has long been a marvel. There is no other site I know of with such a high level of discourse and intellectual rigor.

    I’m glad you’re seeing more traffic; too bad it ends up diluting the conversation.

    Both of your health and well-being are more important!

  82. JTMcPhee

    Why is one of the hardest things just being able to say “no,too much, no more”? Soldiering on under unsustainable loads is what the Great Business Model demands. Don’t do it.

    Thanks to all the writers for vital exposition and healthy framing. A sad saying is ” Money talks, BS walks ” but I am again adding my little store of value to both NC and Lambert’s accounts, today.

    The Giant Kochs spend billions working busily to bring the species and planet to the Soylent Green endpoint, just to glut out their Bigness. For a few dollars more, here, and in other catalytic, illuminating resources, along with a willingness to aschew comfort in favor of putting one’s delicate body on the line and in the street, maybe there’s a stone in the sling of the ordinary people…

  83. homeroid

    Yves and Lambert. I think you have made a wise decision. I don’t comment much at all but i read every day. Thank you. The DFH from AK.

  84. Jim

    As our financial/economic/political/cultural crisis accelerates and the stakes become higher and higher two different types of politics battle for attention. I call one of these the politics of uncertainty and the other the politics of certainty.

    At its philosophical foundation the politics of uncertainty (which I support in my better moments) recognizes
    that there is an irresolvability inherent in the initial conceptual slicing upon which any theoretical framework is predicated. As a consequence it also argues that since there is really no secure basis for knowledge one might as well try to act with kindness and generosity. Such an ethic makes it possible to move politically and renders the passivity and helplessness engendered by epistemological arbitrariness mute.

    The politics of uncertainty also acknowledges that all of our claims to knowledge are transitory and provisional and places a premium on a continued investigation and proper procedure in all fields of knowledge and politics. So in a sense the politics of uncertainty attempts to nuture time–to keep the prospect of successive presents endlessly available.

    The politics of certainty, on the other hand, argues that what lies at the heart of the political order is the power to make a decision. Both the legal and the political order rest on such a decision which then becomes the pre-ethical ground for political action.

    Since in the politics of certainty the political is fundamentally decisonist rather than normative, the essence of the legal order cannot be reduced to a set of procedures as it is in the politics of uncertainty.
    In fact, procedures, for the politics of certainty, are the core of the problem– because they cannot make a single decision .

    For the politics of certainty it is the reality of life and death which gives politics meaning and any moral or other disagreement becomes political only insofar as it ignites antipathies that may put human lives at stake.

    To the degree that Naked Capitalism inches towards a politics of certainty I consider it a catastrophe since as Yves stated above the purpose of the Blog is to nurture critical thinking which to me means all political/cultural/economic/financial perspectives are to be continually subjected to scrutiny–and inherent within that scrutiny is the genuine process of democracy.

    The politics of uncertainty is really an attempt at the institutionalization of skepticism–a skepticism towards centralized public/private power which this country once had and can have again.

  85. Brooklin Bridge

    Can’t add much that hasn’t been said. I’ll really miss comments, especially on the thorny stuff (sorry – had to say it). Hope the compromise works out and all best wishes.

  86. ExtraT

    The number of comments was my best reference for the quality of an article. My free time is limited. Without comments it will be hard to decide which posting is good. Is there some alternative ways to rank the postings?

    1. ambrit

      Nice idea, but, that would make the site more like a general news and editorial space than the journal I suspect it was intended to be. It’s a matter of focus.

    2. just me

      ding ding ding

      I thought jonboinAR had the best comment here, but you win, glad I read this far


      (except a column is not a comment, I liked the comments)

  87. sporble

    Congratulations on making a good decision, BEFORE your health gets (even) worse. One day in the future, I am hopeful that you will look back on today and smile, thinking “that was absolutely the best thing to do.” Life’s too short to not make the most of our limited resources (or to at least try to make the most of them).
    I hardly ever post here (or anywhere). I read more than most people I know, and this is the only site where I give any real attention to the comments. They have provided – and will no doubt continue to provide – added-value.
    Times do change; that is in no way a reflection on you, Yves & Lambert, nor on how you run the site. I’m not at all saddened by your decision; if anything, I’m happy, because I know you will now have more time/energy to take care of the things you actually WANT to do.
    Please keep up the splendid work that you do!

  88. dale

    I used to have a little restaurant in a college town. The number one cook and I got together and put together a menu that we thought covered the basics of good food at a reasonable price and would still allow us to make a little money. It was going along pretty well for a while when a group showed up from the College and started criticizing our menu. “Hey, Mac, why don’t put more onions on the liver?”, or “Gee, these turnips sure could use some seasoning.” It got worse, the group started complaining about the prices. “This is ridiculous, four dollars for a burger?” Yep, they complained about the food and they complained about the prices. But they kept coming back. Then they started stiffing the wait staff. Well, that did it. We all got together one night, the kitchen staff and the floor staff, and decided we’d had enough, we’d close the restaurant for a couple of weeks, take a little vacation, and then re-open; maybe our absence would make folks appreciate us a little more.

    So I hung a simple sign on the door explaining how we were going to close and take a breather from the place. But we’d be back, I added, my last words. The day I hung the sign up the telephone started ringing. People were calling to ask if we were going out of business, if somebody was sick, if, if, if…….no, I said evertime, that we were just gonna take some time off. The sign was put up a week before the vacation time was to start, closing the restaurant on a Friday. Well, Friday came and we were finishing up the lunch shift, which didn’t take long because hardly anyone showed up for lunch that day, and hardly a word passed between any of us. It was a gloomy couple of hours. At four in the afternoon, after adding up the receipts and giving the kitchen a once over, I got everybody together in the dining room to pass out some extra money and, for the few who drank, a glass of bourbon.

    We were all just about to walk out the door when the bell on the entrance door jingled. It was a young couple. I said “We’re closed. Officially on vacation. Will be for two weeks or so. Hank’s (a sport bar) is open.” But they ignored me and sat down in a booth. I turned and looked at my crew, a little puzzled. Maybe they were foreigners from the College and didn’t understand what closed meant. Just as I turned back around to explain, the door opened again and this time four people walked in and sat down. No. 1 Cook asked if there had been a time change he hadn’t heard about. We stared at each other. Then the door opened again and a group of seven or eight people marched in and sat down. This went on for another ten or fifteen minutes until the whole place was full, and more people were standing outside waiting to get in. Still staring, all of us. After a few more minutes of staring, one of the customers stood and said, “Please don’t shut down. We love this place. The food is splendid, the prices are great, and y’all are just the best.” I had to speak. So I said, “You need to read the sign again. I thought I made it clear that we weren’t shutting down, just going on a vacation. We’ll be back, I promise.” Then everybody clapped and cheered.

  89. Fiver

    Talk about lousy timing – I’ve been engaged in a critical battle in defense of democracy for the past year, have only visited NC very infrequently (made 1 comment, if I recall) and was going to comment last night on the ‘Tsipras Didn’t Want To Win’ piece but after flailing about for an hour packed it in for another crack today. And what do I see, but this.

    Not exactly the ‘Welcome Back’ I was hoping for. Good luck to Yves, Lambert and all at NC – we shall certainly need it.

  90. petal

    Please do what you need to do to take care of yourselves and be well. Your work ethic is amazing. Sending good thoughts from NH.

  91. PeonInChief

    I don’t comment much, as I only comment on issues about which I know something. I will miss the few times when I’ve made a comment and received an email from other readers commending me for something I wrote. And the one time when someone wanted to interview me. (I was obnoxious for a month after that one.) But I don’t think enabling the feeding of my ego is Yves’ job.

  92. Steve in Dallas

    NC comments were always a fantastic way to think further into issues/events… I usually couldn’t stop once started… I was always amazed at the quality… but I always assumed someone was doing a fantastic job filtering out the noise/garbage.

    Thank you so much!

  93. EmilianoZ

    I still remember the good old days. Oh, life was so much simpler back then. We were so innocent. We didn’t know the crisis would last this long. Yves would go on holiday with a suitcase full of books leaving Ed to man the fort. Readers would flood his inbox with pictures of their pets. The comment section was so convivial in those days. We would just be joking around mostly. Oh, the good times will never come back.

    1. Lexington

      Oh yeah, the good ol’ days. That was what, about 2004? Dumbya was in the White House and progressives took to the Internet in droves because the mainstream media had turned itself into a propaganda tool for the ascendent neocon regime. Freewheeling comment sections were the norm, and ideological combat was conducted in close where you could see the hate in the wingnuts’ eyes, with no quarter asked for or given by either side. Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly were actually taken seriously back then, that’s how crazy things were.

      Good times.

      Then Obama got elected and ruined everything.

      Wait, are we reminiscing about the same war?

      1. jrs

        It was a kind of glory days for political commentary. Perhaps not much else.

        But yea conditions on the ground also deteriorate in many ways since 2008. The official unemployment rate is lower, but the homeless population keeps growing. Hmm.

  94. Janie

    Thank you both for the blog and the comments. Best site I know of, but I imagine I’m typical: I know nothing about the back of the house operation. Best of health to you both.

  95. Lexington

    I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand my own experience is that getting comments through the spam filter and moderation was becoming so hit or miss that I was already questioning whether it was worth the effort. On the other hand I probably spent considerably more time reading the comments than the articles themselves and I think they added a valuable additional dimension to the site. Philosophically I believe in the value of popular participation in public discourse but the prevailing winds on the Intertubes are blowing in exactly the opposite direction – toward more top down control, manipulation, gate keeping and oversight. I fully understand the reasons for this decision and the necessity of it, but I still can’t help feeling a little sad that we’re losing another small space where free thought was tolerated (even if it has been apparent in recent months that the tolerance was being tested).

    Anyway, it was a good party while it lasted. Thank you Yves and Lambert for your sterling service in bringing important public policy issues to a mass audience. We need more blogs like NC. There used to be about a half dozen I considered essential daily reading, but now it’s down to just this one. For me NC without comments will be marginally less great, but still great none the less.

    On another topic, has anyone proposed setting up a separate site for NC comments, like when Bernhard created Moon of Alabama to fill the void left when Billmon removed comments from The Whiskey Bar?

    Just putting it out there.

    1. Ulysses

      You’re the second person to make that suggestion! Perhaps you and Thoughtful Person (see above) might collaborate on getting such a site started?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      That is taking traffic from our site and effectively cannibalizing our revenues. You want to put NC out of business altogether, that is just the way to do it

  96. john c. halasz

    Earlier on I think I commented here that the Greek crisis was a double bind situation. And I think that the Greek crisis is wot did it. Yves hard-nosed and rather obsessive reporting and commentary on the issue, (which, if too one-sided, was nonetheless a valuable service, for which she should be thanked), was leading her to increasingly schizoid reactions and to arguing with commenters excessively, when they might well be informed and making a valid point or two. (Maybe because I’m on the left, but I think she was particularly hard on genuine leftists, as opposed to wannabes, as with a well-informed putatively Greek commenter called “Tsigantes”, who’s comments I always scrolled through to find).

    That said, I’m one of the earliest readers and occasional commenters of this site. I found it off links a week or two after it first started, and immediately bookmarked it and have read it almost daily ever since. And I always wondered about the immense labor and effort (and reputational risk) involved and how Yves could manage it, (having figured out that she was a nocturnal creature early on). I’ve learned an immense amount here over the years, both directly from posts and off links and from figuring out thereby what I needed to look more closely into. And for that I’m profoundly grateful to Yves and wish her all the best.

    1. RalphR

      Yves has been freakish accurate in calling Greece. But criticize her and prefer Tsigantes? No wonder Yves called comments “negative value added”.

      Here are some from Tsigantes:

      “The EU has no intention of pushing Greece out of EU and aIso no power to execute it.”

      “Keep in mind too that Grexit would hurt the EU and American CDS insurance more than Greece.”

      The same comment discussed how Russia was riding to the rescue of Greece.

      As Yves has repeatedly pointed out in comments, the sovereign CDS market is small. And John Helmer has pointed out that Russia is pointedly not meddling in Greece so as not to give neocons ammo.

      “It is worth remembering that from Syriza’s side 3 indivisible interlinked parts are on the table: 1 -the memorandum 2 negotiation, 2 – debt restructure and 3 – investment for growth.”

      Syriza repudiated that in its last ditch June proposal and even more so yesterday.

      “A small, typical example is the farcical Telegraph ‘analysis’ you link to above which quotes a nonentity like Miranda Xafa talking nonsense with a straight-face, like Tsipras “partnering” with To Potami. ”

      In fact, Syriza (or more accurately Tsipras and whoever in Syriza will follow him) reached to To Potomai and New Democracy and needs their votes to get his proposal passed in Parliament today, since the Left Platform members can be expected to vote against it, and others may follow.

      If you read Tsigantes comments, they are mainly derisive in tone and an effort at one-upsmanship, providing details about Greece that failed to rebut what Yves said but were intended to discredit her in the eyes of the commentariat. And you fell for it. Yves got it dead right. You owe her an apology.

      1. john c. halasz

        I didn’t say that Tsigantes’ comments were always right, nor that I agreed with them, (nor did I memorize them, and the Russia angle, in particular, was always a canard), only that his comments were of interest and presumably provided an inside Greece perspective, within a field of possibilities. And there is no need to apologize to Yves, since I have said nothing insulting toward her.

        I’m not going to relitigate the past 5 months, but Yves treated the “negotiations” as if it were an ordinary business deal, which is her background and does offer some valuable perspective, and relied on close reading of mostly English language press reports, (which is what she does and also a valuable service), but tended to be narrowly focused and ignored the broader political (“democratic”) and economic context, (and I don’t think she got all the economic points quite right, though I myself was never able to quite figure out the capital controls and plan B issues). Nor did she offer any constructive alternatives, (not that it was incumbent on her to do so). So being proven narrowly right amidst the broader wrongs is not exactly a triumphant vindication.

        I said this is a double-bind situation, i.e. a communicative pathology, (though there is a difference between the issuer and the receiver of paradoxical injunctions to be always kept in mind). To demand in such a situation the “correct” (presumably neutral) tone or perfectly coherent rhetoric simply amounts to a re-enforcement of the repression that is occurring.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I’m sorry but my reference point is not just business deals, it’s also the history of diplomacy. You are incorrect in your assumptions.

          And in diplomacy, the importance of tone and care of responses is observed far far more than in business negotiations. As one of many examples, look at how summits between leaders are carefully staged, with tons of staff level communications and pre-work. The meetings themselves are largely pro-forma if they go well, with the announcement afterwards largely if not entirely scripted beforehand!

          1. john c. halasz

            I repressed several possible responses, (including the temptation to link to Vera Lynn and to the history of Eleftherios Venizelos), as either to snarky or too pedantic. But please reflect on where you might have mis-judged, once the dust settles and the most-mortem examination ensures.

  97. Anarcissie

    You could have a Letters to the Editor section. The understanding would be that the LttE editors would pick from the slush pile at random, and publish what they pleased; there would be no guarantee of publication and it would not appear instantly. This would greatly reduce spammage, sockpuppetry, hobby-horse riding, and trolling. In some cases valuable information might be conveyed.

    Another possibility, as Lexington suggests above, is an adjunct forum. There are many examples. And I suppose Usenet is still around somewhere.

  98. Phil

    Yves, As an infrequent contributor who watches the comment forums I have to agree. Unless volunteer moderators are put in place, you will be fighting a losing battle (and losing your health) in order to maintain a high signal/noise ratio. I will continue to read NC, and hope that some of the more robust commenters continue to contribute.

    Take care of your health; try not to burn out. You are doing good work; make that a part of a “good life” that includes smiles and good feelings. Keep up the good work!

  99. Kim Kaufman

    Another thought, besides someone setting up a separate discussion site, is if an individual guest writer would like comments, s/he could include their email and receive all the comments. Or that writer could take the responsibility for curating that post, perhaps. I, too, will miss the occasional comments from Michael Hudson or Matt Stoller but then I still miss having a gas station attendant pump my gas, clean the windshield and check under the hood. Things change.

    Also, thanks for all you do Yves and Lambert. This is my favorite site and the Greece coverage has been stupendous, as is the CALPERS stuff and so much else.

  100. Jeremy Grimm

    No posts after midnight … so far so good for the new comments policy.

    As commented above it was becoming evident that all was not well. I am glad for this decision to limit and control comments … and most important of all … conserve the time and energy of our hosts on this website.

    Thank you for the change. I could feel something was not well but knew neither what nor how to fix it. This change in policy feels right.

  101. Avg John

    Although not a regular commenter,I just want to say I’ve enjoyed reading all of the commenters here on NC. Thanks and goodbye to all.

  102. peter

    What about a simple reputation system, analogous to the ones used in some email anti-spam solutions? Rather than going through a huge moderation queue in some sort of binary decision fashion (bad versus good) and trying to keep up personally with what every individual has written in the past, award a point, or two, for good posts and subtract a point, or more, for trolling or not adhering to the Policies section. Every new commenter starts off with a ‘neutral’ reputation (0 points) and is automatically cut off at, say, minus 2. Those posters with, say, 5 or above are automatically whitelisted for any type of moderation consideration. My guess is that moderation queues will start reducing in size over time.
    How difficult would that be, technically, to implement? It’s a dirt simple little data base and a couple of radio buttons on your moderation queue ‘interface’.
    I’m willing to contribute the first $250.

    Regarding first time posters, redirect them to some ‘Policy section awareness’ questionnaire hyperlink before being allowed to post. That will put off most of those that are not serious.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for the willingness to contribute, which is very generous. However, your solution requires development (which takes time to supervise and honestly our tech guy is good at only limited types of coding). Second, we still have to score the posts, which is even MORE time from us. Third, we’ve seen good commentors go completely off the rails, so a good record is not as reliable as you’d think in terms of future performance.

      1. MRW

        we’ve seen good commentors go completely off the rails, so a good record is not as reliable as you’d think in terms of future performance.

        I’m a prime example here. My economic comments are welcome. My climate change comments are not. This is neither a complaint nor a criticism; truly not. It’s an ideological difference. But it ain’t my blog. So I defer.

        1. SDB

          Are you aware of any other websites/blogs, besides Fabius Maximus, that is both progressive on economics and skeptical on climate change?

          As an almost daily reader and almost never commenter at NC…
          I’ll miss the comments sections. I hope a solution is found and they return. But I understand Yves and Lambert’s decision.

    2. Lambert Strether

      On the point system, I’m not clear who does the rating. If it’s readers, I think the results would be like those at Kos: Gaming and factionalism. No thanks.

      However, I’m filing away the idea to redirect first time commenters to the policy page. Of course, we might get false positives, and then complaints; but there’s something to be said for it.

      1. peter

        No, I meant the reputation system to be for moderator’s use only, as the only faction. Currently you probably have to click on an ‘approve’ or ‘reject’ button. You may as well have the system remember that decision by updating a poster’s reputation.
        Anyway, the point was to reduce the moderation queue size over time by automatic black/white listing. I know it involves some coding and Yves made some other arguments against as well. I decided to tip the jar regardless with $150.

  103. washunate

    Yves, don’t feel bad at all. For my two cents, I think that’s a great idea. Exactly the kinds of thoughts I was having when you put up the post about engagement and number of comments. Have most posts with comments off. The point is to present the idea in a traditional media one-way direction of communication. That solves the problem that on some of the best technical and dirt digging posts, there is nothing really to add so we end up with great articles and 6 comments.

    For a few posts, such as where a guest author desires feedback, allow comments just on those posts.

  104. vidimi

    would it be workable to create a forum, separate from but related to the main site?

    i think it would be a good place for readers to spitball their ideas, ask questions, and also highlight which topics are hot.

    yves and lambert, as administrators, could participate as much or as little as they would like and install several trusted readers as moderators, who would all volunteer pro bono.

  105. joe renter

    It is a sad day at NC. I have been reading this blog for 7 years now. I have found the comments to be par none to anything on the net. I don’t have the time to expand on this now for I have to go out make my thin wage as a cog in the machine. However, I can say that I won’t be around to see the the slow death of the site. There is a season for everything under the sun, as the saying goes. For NC the sun is setting.
    Good luck to all the fine folks in the comment section that I have come to know through their post.
    Carry on.
    Joe Renter

  106. roger mack

    my first and possibly last comment. thanks for all the really deep, informative posts. and thanks to many of your commenters for great discussions. i will most certainly keep reading NC.

  107. AnnieB

    I totally support your action in closing down comments. The reason I continued to read NC every day, rather than some other blog,was the added education in the comments section. I will continue to read NC and hope that in the future educated comments will return. In the meantime, thanks for all you do.

  108. just me

    I have a suggestion, or a wish.

    Mitch Kapor gave a presentation at Wikimania 2006 called “I’d like to have an argument.” He thought the web needed to develop tools for social arguing. It amazes me that all this energy I find so entertaining and provocative and helpful–the arguments in comments and across posts–should be so infuriating and debilitating to the proprietors. Like, even there’s a fortune to be made, organize it and sell tickets or something. 2006–did the tools ever develop?

    And about that fortune, the other thing I’m thinking of is how Jaron Lanier (Who Owns the Future?) says this whole economic collapse and privacy collapse is kind of a systemic fail in accounting and accountability, and the answer is fixing the system/internet to enable honest accounting. That Google made the biggest fortune in the shortest time in history, off everyone’s unpaid postings to the internet, and its ability to be a gatekeeper has turned it into not an advertising business model but a kind of mafia protection racket, and he uses a phrase that I can’t remember right now. He said if Facebook was monetized, we’d have a middle class again. Like, bingo, our sick Zif curve of very few winners and an endless tail of losers would turn back into a healthy bell curve where the middle can outspend the ends. His idea is that the internet got off to a wrong start when it lost bidirectional links which would have allowed for monetization and accountabliity and made copyright and intellectual property issues moot. He wants an information economy with double-book accounting. That the way it is now, he says if I’m quoting him correctly, is dishonest accounting and stupid unnecessary shrinkage. People in the future are not going to believe we did this to ourselves. Slaps forehead. People have been working and producing all along but not getting paid, but Google is. That we’re called customers but we’re really the product, and the masters are the servers. Just saying, I can see that the comments here are unaccounted for value, wealth even, and it’s a shame they only account out to Yves as a site drain, and I can see it’s a scalable symptom, and that it might be an interesting line of thought for NC to explore. (I also think there’s a huge flaw in the system he’s proposing, but even he says it’s not the answer but a start.) Because wealth, it’s unpegging itself, it’s unhinged. Walmart was like the first. He says, “The thing about Walmart is that the system works so well that it actually makes the context in which wealth even exists absurd.” I think NC without the comments is as absurd as an NC where the comments kill the proprietor. There’s just got to be a better way. I’d like to be able to have an argument in a mutually beneficial way.

    Best wishes.

    1. MRW

      His idea is that the internet got off to a wrong start when it lost bidirectional links

      Actually, bidirectionality had nothing to do with it. The client—”us,” the users—should have maintained the logs.

      In other words, we should be the hub of our own information, not Zuckerberg, Larry Page, or Sergey Brin. From a software POV, we should be the servers, and Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin should be the clients.

      1. just me

        As I understand it, bidirectionality has everything to do with it, in that every posting and use is accountable, which would make Google’s and Facebook’s business model obsolete as tollbooth and hoarders and sellers of your data in an information economy. It’s not hub and spoke, it’s distributed, and you need two nodes to make accountable wealth, buyer-seller, read-write. You could be the Mona Lisa, but if no one uses you in that spectrum, and that’s the spectrum, you’re worthless. (What could possibly go wrong?) Also, I think the idea is to disable Facebook or Google as the gate, or a lurking NSA… he seems to think that the NSA like everyone else will have to pay us for our data, no free lunch no how nobody, and that in that internet we can set our own price, and that when someone changes a price or sets it too high the whole net won’t collapse (only one logical copy of data, to be endlessly mashed through all time to come). Like, really? Tell me more.

        Jaron Lanier: It’s not that Facebook should pay you. It’s that we should be paying each other so we have a real economy and we’re all first-class citizens. If it’s just Facebook paying us, we’re ultimately shopping in a company store, if you see what I mean. That’s not a real economy. We need to have a situation where if we’re going to have market economies at all, everyone needs to be a first-class citizen in them. And that has to be true even if it’s primarily an information economy, or else we’ll just create this new plutocracy that’ll be really extreme.

        (From Corrente, before Lambert burned it down.) It kind of amazes me that Lanier doesn’t talk about the inherent systemic problems with money and banks and politics that I read about here on NC, and that he thinks an internet with one logical copy and no anonymity is more robust and sustainable and truthful than one with many copies. I don’t get it though I try to understand the big picture. I keep thinking, could he please talk to Bill Black and could we all listen in? I have lots of questions. Suggestion to Yves.

        Best wishes.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Generally, after a forest fire, there’s regrowth, since the deadwood and trash trees and weeds where the fire was set turn to ash, and allow the soil to be reseeded. At least in Maine. Takes awhile, though. Sadly, old growth is lost. Subthread closed.

  109. KatieO

    I have read this site for years,never commented. Have learned so much,but health is paramount, especially in this pay to play country,bless you,and don’t forget the vitamins and supplements…take good care

  110. Kurt Sperry

    I’m still more than anything else happy to hear a flood of new readers has found the site.

    I’m a little sad however we the commentariat have come to be seen as a burden rather than an asset to the site’s purpose. I think most of the issues with moderation and spam stem at their root from the lack of a registration system. I’ve modded and been an admin at some pretty heavily trafficked discussion sites and I can’t imagine trying to successfully do either task lacking that vital tool. Once you have a core of trusted registered users who are white listed, the moderation queue can be pretty much limited to the relatively small number of posts made by new registrants and if registered users can flag whatever spam makes it around the site’s defenses as it appears, it makes spamming close to futile without necessarily having to rely on unreliable and buggy algorithmic filters. Another potential approach to stopping spamming and trolling might be a micropayment account as a prerequisite to posting. Spammers absolutely will not ‘pay to say’ ever, remember when there was talk of killing spam by using a micropayment postage system for email? Even if the cost were one tenth of a cent per mail, that is alone sufficient to kill the incentives to spam, it’s a shame that never came into being.

  111. ekstase

    This is a great and well- respected site. So sorry you have to do this, but pretty obvious why. I look forward to continuing to read the really interesting, informed writing here, and to seeing worthwhile, straightforward and well- intentioned comments. Thank you for this site.

  112. Andrew Watts

    Awww, I think I just had a major sad. It’s not much of a surprise though. Especially after the continued negative response to Yves’ coverage of Greece this was to be expected.

    There hasn’t been a topic that I’ve been reluctant to talk about as much as the whole ongoing Greek drama. Too many people have invested far too much for any rational response to overshadow every thing else. It’s probably only going to get worse from here on out so this was a smart move to forestall any further headaches with us rascals in the comment section.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Yves has, sadly I suppose, been proven pretty much smack on about the whole Greek fiasco from the beginning. Only a masochist would argue against what she’s saying at this point.

      1. Andrew Watts

        You’re right. There is such a thing as shooting the messenger though. That line was kinda being crossed and abuse was heaped on Yves for no good reason.

  113. Jansen Mcfee

    Since you never post my comments (no matter how relevant), it’s hard to sympathize with your policy change. Your editing of the comments always seemed capricious at best. It stopped me from donating to your site.

    I will donate an idea though. You should require users pay to post comments.
    $5 a comment.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I suggest your read our comments policies and consider how our software works. We do not and never have “edited comments” as in edit what a reader posts. Nor do we pre-screen comments, as you imply. To do that, each and every comment would have to go into moderation and then be reviewed by us.We don’t do that, nor do we have the manpower to do that.

      If your comments are consistently going into moderation, they are hitting moderation tripwires. And if we aren’t releasing them, that means that they somehow violate our comments policies, as in being ad hominem, too aggressive, etc. And while we appreciate donations, that does not buy a waiver to our comments policies.

  114. frosty zoom

    a little ironic that the post announcing the end of comments is the post with the most comments.

    i do thank yves and lambert for their excellent efforts to hold the greedocracy to account.

    and if i’ve clogged the moderation queue (sorry, lambert) it was because i always thought a machine filtered out the junk. oops.

    may the force be with us.

  115. trinity river

    Yves, I agree with everything you have said. I have learned so much from comments made in the past, but have more and more been bored with many recent comments. Also, I have been frustrated like you have with the shallow negative ignorant comments that some have made. Often I have had the urge to comment to respond to these people, but felt that I too would be adding words that would distract from the goal of your blog. You are extraordinarily patient and tolerant.

    As belatedly I’ve caught up with this post, I have again been distressed with the people who do not understand your perspective and continue to harangue. I don’t have the money to send you for more help so I am grateful for your blog and feel fortunate to have found you.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  116. susaniniowa

    NC is incredibly informative, and I value it greatly. You are doing the right thing, which is preservation of your health and sanity. You have some really great commenters, and they are a loss, but maybe some of them will send you email now and then.

Comments are closed.