Another Warning About Comments

With considerable reluctance, we closed comments for over a week earlier this month as a result of too many readers refusing to adhere to our written site Policies. When we restored them, we explained:

In the past, despite having had to impose more moderation tripwires, the site admins have generally been able to operate in a minimal-intervention mode, with moderators approving most comments and deleting posted comments rarely and with great reluctance.

However, due to an rise in sheepdog-style, talking point-driven commentary and other forms of thread-jacking, we are going to be in zero tolerance mode until readers understand that this site is not the place for mere personal opinion. That includes cheerleading (“+1000”). If you have nothing of substance to add to a comment you like, please don’t. Readers are already saying they can seldom digest our daily Links. In light of general information overload, we’d rather have 100 thoughtful comments (such as links to articles or topics that weren’t included in Links or Water Cooler) than 250 that consist largely of noise.

There are plenty of outlets for that sort of thing, such as Kos and reddit. We suggest you go there if you want to hold forth. Otherwise, as Barry Ritholtz would often say, GYOFB.

Even though most readers have been offering high quality observations, we still have enough violators, despite our repeated and forceful warnings, to drag down the caliber of comments. In the mere week comments have been open, we have had readers make no-value-added personal attacks on other readers and post authors, demonstrate they failed to read the post, and engage in thread-jacking, agnotology (in one case, utterly misrepresent the links they provided), and cheerleading. We’ve had to expunge quite a few comments, including those by readers who slapped down an offending remark (sadly to remove an abusive comment, we have to rip out the entire thread or else comment nesting on later comments falls apart).

Despite repeatedly exhorting commentors to review our Policies, many still appear to have failed to do so. So we are posting them below in the hope that we can avoid having to shut down comments yet again.

* * *

Comments Policy

The comments section has become an important feature for both Naked Capitalism readers and site authors, due to the general high caliber of the discussion. That in turn results from having commentors who are engaged, thoughtful, adhere to high standards regarding the quality of information and analysis, and who steer clear of abuse or intellectually invalid argumentation strategies.

The comments section is a conversation hosted in Naked Capitalism’s space. That means that commenting is a privilege, not a right.

You are invited into our space because your comments are often at least as informative as our posts, and they can be funny too. You keep us on our toes and graciously correct our all-too-frequent typos and broken links. However, in order to keep the conversation civil and informative, we have found that we have to establish and enforce guidelines.

We welcome comments and will accept any reasonable or constructive comment that contributes to debate and stimulates conversation, including strong criticisms. We prefer to keep the comments section as open as possible, but Naked Capitalism is not a chat board or a forum. The site’s administrators spend a considerable amount of time in the review and maintenance of the comments section, not just in moderating comments that hit our moderation tripwires (see Moderation below) but also by engaging in comments on a frequent basis, often to keep discussions from going off the rails.

Readers who run afoul of our standards are subject to the loss of comment privileges. The overarching requirement is that you comment in good faith to advance your understanding and that of other readers.

Our Goal is to Promote Critical Thinking

When in doubt, consider this quote as a guideline:

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

-Harlan Ellison

Typical violations:

1) Broken record: Repeating the same point over and over again, especially when it’s long been refuted. That includes taking an argument that was rebutted on one post and repeating the same argument on another post.

2) Not reading the post: Evidently reacting only to the headline of a post, or not reading through to the end.

3) Bad faith: Deploying any of a long list of rhetorical tricks that are all about winning, as opposed to conversing. As former debaters, Yves and Lambert know these tricks well. Don’t use them.

The most common is straw manning, as in misrepresenting what a post or comment author said. That includes speaking on someone else’s behalf.

4) Insulting your hosts and fellow commentors: These discussions take place in Naked Capitalism’s space. So don’t throw your drink in your host’s face, whether Yves, Lambert, or any poster.

5) Rude and offensive language: Naked Capitalism is read by a wide audience, and if your comment includes offensive or inappropriate language, it may be deleted. For example, please avoid “bad language” that’s more than mildly vigorous – no body parts, please! – and avoid racist ranting.

Other violations include but are not limited to ad hominem attacks, hogging bandwidth, assignments/demands (asking/telling post authors or site admins to Do Something other than fix typos or broken HTML), sock-puppeting yourself, link-whoring, thread-jacking, jailbreaking, acting as a self-appointed moderator and/or complaining about moderation policy, agnotology or other forms of making stuff up, tag teaming, and a high invective-to-content ratio.

Filtering and Moderation

WARNING: The Internet is a hostile computing environment. Always copy your comment before pressing the Submit button. That way, if your comment does not appear for some reason, you will not have lost it.


Naked Capitalism comments are filtered for spam using Akismet. We have no control over Akismet, and sometimes it acts like Skynet.

Akismet operates algorithmically. If you act like a spammer, Akismet will classify you as a spammer and throw and keep throwing your comments into the spam bucket, which is so overwhelmingly full of genuine spam that we won’t have time to fish them out.

Therefore, don’t train Akismet to think you are a spammer! Don’t post duplicate (or very similar) comments, because that’s what spammers do. And don’t post with more than four links.


Naked Capitalism operates a complex system of automatic tripwires to protect the blog from abuse.

If your comment triggers a tripwire, it will be routed to our moderation team and not posted for public view until it has been checked. This may take up to 24 hours, depending on workload.

“Why hasn’t my comment appeared?”

Most comments appear immediately, but because we have implemented caching to improve site performance, your comment may take as long as two minutes to appear. So wait, and refresh your page. Otherwise:

1) “We don’t know.” Akismet moves in mysterious ways.

2) “We don’t know.” WordPress has an intermittent bug that causes some comments to vanish into the ether, including even those of site administrators.

3) “Your comment triggered a moderation tripwire.” See “Moderation” above.

Unfortunately, even commenters in good standing hit those tripwires. Your best course of action is to do nothing and wait until our team can clear the moderation queues, at which point your comment should appear.

4) “You have been banned.” See “Banning” below.

Please do not write us to ask why a comment has not appeared. We do not have the bandwidth to investigate and reply.


Anyone who violates this comments policy may be banned from commenting on Naked Capitalism. Banning may be temporary or permanent.

In some circumstances, we may send a commenter an email at the address provided. If this leads to a constructive exchange, the matter may be resolved without further consequences.

Temporary banning: We may ban a commenter temporarily, and find on review of their subsequent comments that the violation was an outlier. We will then restore their commenting privileges. WARNING: We invest a lot of time thinking through these decisions, far more than you might imagine. The quickest way to convert your temporary ban into a permanent one is to complain about moderation policy.

Permanent banning: Once a commenter is permanently banned, their comments are never reviewed, and they can never comment at NC again. If you test us by trying to jailbreak, we may expunge all the comments you have ever made at NC.

Keyword banning: The inclusion of certain words will lead a comment to be routed directly to our Trash folder, irrespective of the status of the person who provided it. So don’t take it personally if a comment does not appear upon occasion.

Expunging Comments

Our strong preference is to be as light touch as possible. In the early days of this website, we would remove only exceptionally offensive comments. However, due to “exceptionally offensive” having become the new normal in some circles, along with the need to demonstrate to readers that we are in low-tolerance mode as far as rule violations are concerned, we are less restrained in removing out-of-bounds comments.

Unfortunately, the nesting feature of our comments section means that if we remove an abusive comment, we have to painstakingly remove all replies, or else nesting will fail on all subsequent comments on that post. So please don’t feed the trolls! And don’t take it personally if we disappeared your comment as a result of exorcising a bad thread.

Our decisions with respect to individual comments and the status of a commentor are final.

Sanity Clause

Naked Capitalism reserves the right to edit, delete, move, or mark as spam any and all comments. Naked Capitalism has the right to bar any individual or group of people from commenting. Naked Capitalism has the right to turn off commenting for any or all posts.

Commenting on Naked Capitalism is deemed acceptance of these policies.

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  1. Chris

    Thanks, Yves. Clearly and lucidly explained, and should be easy to follow.

    Is there some way of ‘pinning’ this post, so that it’s easily available for future reference? I note that there’s no entry on the list of Topics in the sidebar for ‘Moderation’.

    [Although, of course, there it is under the ‘Moderation’ link. Silly me.]

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It is in the header bar as Policies. This is why we have been frustrated at the widespread failure to read it despite regularly urging readers to do so.

      1. Nick Alcock

        Header bars are easy to mentally edit out and never notice (similarly to header-bar advertising). I’ve been reading this site for years, and this comment was the first time I realised the site even *had* a header bar, despite it being right in front of my face in clearly highlighted standout colours every time I refreshed the page.

        The human mind is confounding.

        1. TimH

          Me too. If possible, this piece re-titled “comment policy’ could float permanently at the top of Recent Items. With comments disabled.

          Yeah, my comment assigns work to the site so I’ve breached policy. Sorry.

        2. hunkerdown

          +1 for conspicuity. Many blogs present a reminder and link to site policies as a part of the comments box assembly. Such a reminder and link would fit nicely near the “Your email address will not be published.” text.

          1. Dirk77

            I don’t what conspicuity means, but adding a link to comment policy as part of the comment box form seems like a good idea. Some type of caution just before I go off the rails would help to give me pause.

          2. Lambert Strether

            > conspicuity

            It’s a word! Websters:

            Con`spi*cu”i*ty (?), n. The state or quality of being clear or bright; brightness; conspicuousness. [R.] Chapman.

            More than that, it’s a word I didn’t know!

            NOTE I suppose, then, that disconspicuity, or unconspicuity, or aconspicuity should be words to. Usage example: For some readers, the link to the comments policy is in a state of disconspicuity.

            1. hunkerdown

              I’d go with inconspicuity, akin to inconspicuous. To me, dis- would imply malignancy or a dark pattern. FWIW, I know of the term only because web search was once useful. I think I was searching for weird warning signs and chanced upon those red-and-white stickers on the backs of commercial vehicles and trailers, known in trade as DOT tape or conspicuity tape.

      2. Phil

        FYI, just a “head(er)s-up” ~ The header bar is likely hidden on most screens, including wide PC browsers, due to the collapsed menu feature. Until you mentioned that’s where policies are, I had never noticed this site had a header bar, not having ever needed to refer to or search for it. If it’s lack of consultation is causing this much grief (clearly is), perhaps duplicate it in the rhs column, just above where the cute pictures live – or maybe better, just below the search box above ‘Recent Comments.’ PS: Love your work :0)

        1. CoryP

          Yeah I use this site mostly in its mobile incarnation.

          I’ve read the commenting policy and still don’t seem to be able to abide by it, but on mobile all I get is the hamburger menu and nobody clicks on that unless the site is malfunctioning.

          The idea of having a pinned Policy post at the top of the Most Recent post feed seems like it could help. It would improve visibility. (I have no idea if this is possible with WP)

          But at the same time I’ve been really disappointed to notice that some commenters didn’t take the comment break to heart, and are posting in overt violation of the policies. And seemingly didn’t read the fucking clear as day guidance issued on this matter.
          Honestly I expected better and I’m sad.
          (But we all have our blind spots and maybe I’m one of those )

        2. Lambert Strether

          > The header bar is likely hidden on most screens, including wide PC browsers, due to the collapsed menu feature. Until you mentioned that’s where policies are, I had never noticed this site had a header bar,

          This is useful feedback (and we work and read on laptops, and so are inevitably influenced by what we see for hours every day, which is not what all see). I will look into this. Sounds like a fix for this wouldn’t make work for us or cost any money.

          1. Phil

            Ok Thx. When I said ‘duplicate it’ in the rhs column, I meant only the policy aka comments warning, of course. Btw, although I work on an ultra-wide VDU (4K) my browser window is never maximised – which would show the header bar – because it’s sharing the screen with many other open PC windows.

  2. BlakeFelix

    Thanks! I guess this is as good a place as any to ask if there is some trick to setting up a commenting account where you can see replies and such? Whenever I click on the link I get source code of some kind?

      1. dk

        I think they’re referring to the RSS link at the top of the comments section, titled “SUBSCRIBE TO POST COMMENTS,” which is ambiguous, might be better reworded as “Subscribe to comments to this post”. One doesn’t have to subscribe to the feed to post or read comments.

    1. Mel

      I get this effect by bookmarking my comment in my browser right after I make it.
      Then check the bookmark sporadically over the next few days to see if anybody was interested.

  3. ambrit

    Oh my. I think that I often fall into the “does not supply useful insight” trap.
    What is the policy on “humour?” I can see myself going on too long with back and forth pun exchanges. How serious of a problem is such?
    (Serious question.)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We like humor, and we like your comments. People like you who worry are generally not the problem.

      Levity is fine, that’s why we have Antidotes. And we’ve never objected to Wukchumni’s ditties.

        1. larry

          I endorse ambrit here completely. So often in some posts on some blogs, I come across a large number of comments that add nothing and appear to be not very different from trolling. I then give up. I have acquired invaluable information from comments in this blog that I probably would not have seen otherwise. This can be of inestimable benefit, not just to me but possibly to others.

          As ambrit says, stay safe.

      1. John Wright

        Littering up the comments with “+1000” is no-go, but having a way to let Ambrit (or other commenters) know their commenting efforts ARE appreciated could be valuable.

        Some sites have a way of doing Up/Down voting of comments, with the original comment showing the UP/Down vote count,

        But I suspect this would be yet another troublesome task for a busy NC crew to implement.

        The NC comments add a lot of value for me as NC has people commenting from many continents and regions in the USA, many with great insights and life experiences to relate..

        I’d guess that NC observed a drop in traffic during the comments holiday, which may indicate the added value visitors find in the comments.

        1. ambrit

          I have read that a “Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down” comment rating system lends itself to manipulation and thus clutters up the site and or makes the site more labour intensive to maintain.
          I thank you for the mention, to make the point that the practice of “cuteness” in commentary is often a sign of self esteem ‘issues.’ I have that occasional “long, hard look in the mirror” to check for nascent narcissism. I often see that demon staring right back at me with a scatological smirk in it’s ugly kisser. Then the “Rasslin with the Angel” begins in earnest.
          Setting limits on oneself is difficult at the best of times. We most certainly are not living in even an approximation of such now.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          I think expressing appreciation for others’ comments adds to the feeling of community even if that is all you want to do. However, I am duly refraining from such.

          1. CoryP

            I agree. but I also agree with the idea that it increases the moderation workload (as does this comment) , and is really unnecessary.

            These people have provided the best forum on the internet and it would really be a tragic loss to all of us. And a loss for the countless people that religiously read and don’t post, as I once was.

            My feeling, keep the comments.

            Block my IP if you must and be aggressive in blocking people. Us nutcases will still get the thrill of posting, and the fact that it doesn’t show up visibly won’t detract from that.

            I really value the discussions I read here.

    2. Wukchumni

      I plead guilty to word-jacking* and making stuff up as I go after getting the facts down in order to distort boring bromides in need of a laugh, hope I haven’t gone over the line too much in my endeavors in torturing the English language into my submissions…

      * i’m holding a 5 syllable word hostage, in approximation

  4. flora

    I’ve been going on too long lately. This is going to be a hot button week; I’ll step away from the keyboard for a bit. :)

    1. Another shy lurker

      flora, I have been lurking here for going on two years now and your comments are usually the first I read. I had a bookmark library full of NC comments, and I actually created one just for yours because I came to see that your comments make the clearest connection between the various “neoliberal” events over the decades, i.e. court cases, political and financial maneuverings, etc. – that have led us to our current predicament. I unfortunately had computer issues and wasn’t backing up, so I’ve lost much of what I had saved.

      I’d like to put something together that illustrates, as simply as possible, what’s transpired over the last few decades. Not easy, I know, but your comments were, and continue to be, a source of knowledge and inspiration.

      Thank you!

  5. Big Tap

    I had a issue with Twitter last week where a reply to my comment was a photo of myself. I immediately contacted Twitter about this tweet since a photo could easily be used to identify me and I might ended up doxed. The result was that tweet had to be deleted for that person to continue to use Twitter. Can’t that process apply here? For instance:

    How about possible offending comments get brought to your attention and you can decide if they follow comment policies or not and disposition accordingly. I only see a handful of abusive comments i.e. personal attacks but I usually ignore other areas of violation. I feel a more direct approach will end most of the issues here. IMO the people writing offensive things will continue to do so until they are dealt with on an individual basis.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t think you being to appreciate how much effort already goes into comments. You seem to labor under the misapprehension that we aren’t reviewing the mod queue multiple times an hour and the comments for each post many times a day, with more than one set of eyes on everything.

      This isn’t a matter of “things being brought to our attention”. We are all over comments all the time.

      This is offenses in our face and having to spend energy on them, in terms of having to decide what to do, which eats into the time available to research and write new posts.

      For the mod queue alone: trash and ban? trash and moderate? just trash? approve with a reply (which may be a correction, a quibble, a slapdown, a warning, an addition to the line of thought) or just approve. It’s more complicated deciding what if anything to do if a published thread has or looks about to go off the rails.

      1. Lex

        I’m just going to put this out here because I don’t know what the answer is: how much would it cost to hire another part-time moderator, so that the editors don’t have to spend so much time watching over the comments? There’s a fundraiser every year that as far as I know has been fully funded at each stage? Is Jules part-time or full-time?

        I know personally at least one former full-time moderator for another site. It’s stressful work. Also the subject of one of the bunch-to-the-gut funniest scenes in the show ‘The Good Place’ about what reviewing the shadow side of the human psyche will do over time…. it’s the heart and soul of TMI.

        I’ve got $25 laying around doin’ nothin’. Call this fund ‘Moderation Vacation’.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This is not a matter of money. It’s a matter of finding someone who has experience moderating and we can trust to allow access to our backstage. People who don’t have experience will under or overreact and will be at risk of not using the “house voice” properly.

          Moreover, we have found that adding more moderators is like adding more programmers: it makes matters worse. Moderation does not scale and supervising more inexperienced moderators is a net time sink for Lambert and me. See Lambert’s similar comment to PlutoniumKun below.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Is there any possibility of widening responsibility for moderation to take pressure off the core team? I’m sure there must be a few regulars here who would be willing to take it on for a couple of hours a week at agreed times if it would be helpful.

    1. Lambert Strether

      We have done that once or twice already (now we have Jules). The difficulties are (a) moderation is harder, more time-consuming, and much more stressful than it may appear, and (b) we then have more management and communications costs (see The Mythical Man Month).

      So thank you for the suggestions… but we have yet to hear one that we have not carefully considered, or tried.

    2. vlade

      As Lambert says above. IIRC, NC burned out through a few comment moderators already, which tells me it’s way harder that people expect.

      Easier would be probably to require registration for comments, but I know Yves doesn’t want it, and there are some good reasons – technical stuff, as well as discouraging spontaneous comments from lurkers. At the same time, unless Yves & co would vet registrations (extra work, and how do you vet new people?), it’d not stop trolling and even long-term commenters can turn bad.

      Good comments is hard work, and more so as you move into different areas. If NC goes out of economics and finance (and I think most of us agrees it should), it means higher moderation load, especially in times of crisis.

      The best we can do, outside of keeping to the policies as much as we can, is to pitch in with some money.. Money can’t buy everything, but it certainly can smooth a lot of stuff, hopefully reducing stress on Yves/Lambert & co.

  7. Thuto

    Wondering out loud whether this abuse of commenting privileges is tied to clusters of hot, polarizing topics e.g. Trump and Covid lockdowns, and less so to subjects around which the commentariat generally has wide consensus e.g. crapification, or whether it’s a long standing issue that’s recently come to the boil and is now requiring more and more management bandwidth from our hosts to stamp out. Also wondering out loud whether there are repeat offender/recidivist tendencies by those violating site policies or are we seeing a worrying trend of a growing number of previously well behaved commenters also starting to soil the NC comments section with comments either loosely tethered to facts or overly “bad faith argumentation” in orientation.

    1. David

      I was wondering the same thing, really. There are subjects around which we have a lot of consensus, subjects where there are strong disagreements but are not particularly polarising, and finally subjects where there are strong disagreements and where the issues are very polarising. Obviously, the last category is the one that causes the most difficulty, just as, I suspect, something like the Pareto principle applies, and (at least) 80% of the problematic comments come from (at most) 20% of the commentariat. I wonder whether there’s some scope for a metadata approach here, by flagging up for priority scrutiny, combinations of polarising subjects and excitable commenters. But I’m not trying to tell our gracious hosts their job.

      More generally, I’d appeal to fellow commenters to ask themselves before clicking “Post Comment” (it’s so easy, isn’t it?) to ask themselves Is My Comment Really Necessary? After all, there will never be a shortage of good comments here, but, especially on controversial subjects, the more comments, the more work for the moderators. (During the nadir of Brexit the Guardian sometimes had over a thousand comments on its stories. Most of them amounted to “**** you, No, *** you””, even after the moderators had removed a fair percentage. Quality, as here is much more important than quantity.) My own practice is only to comment when I have think I can say something that is either (1) useful because it draws on personal experience and expertise (2) particularly acute (in my view anyway) or (3) sufficiently interesting, amusing or unusual. I don’t seek to impose such rules on others, but I would urge people to develop rules for themselves, and especially to ask whether criticism of others is really a useful contribution. (I do admit that on one occasion, some time ago, I did lash out a bit at someone who was lecturing me about things I know a great deal about, which I shouldn’t have done. But then personal criticisms (“you must be a paid lobbyist for X or Y, you must work for the US government, you were probably a Marxist in the 60s”) contribute nothing useful anyway). As your guidelines say, the criticism should be of the argument not the person.

      I hardly need to repeat, but I will, how valuable this site is as an island of sanity in a poisonous ocean of misinformation. We don’t want to lose it and we don’t want to lose comments. Let’s all do what we can, and I’m sure that if there is any way, no matter how small, that regular commenters can help, we’ll do so.

      1. Procopius

        I seem to recall, from a year or two ago, a request by Lambert (?) to show consideration for the moderators by pausing for a moment and considering whether your comment really adds enough to the thread to justify the added workload. I’m too often guilty of forgetting to do this, but sometimes I do realize that what I just typed doesn’t add value and I hit “cancel reply.” Probably this is one I should do that with.

  8. kevin smith

    A simple solution would be to limit comments to something those who were commenting properly >6-12 months ago. That is a very large, stable pool of high quality commenters. A bit crude, but likely to be simple and highly effective. If you like, I could set to work harvesting those handles from the archive.

    1. Carolinian

      I think one of the great virtues of this site is that it is so open to new voices and new ideas. Confining comments to a limited circle with their own hobby horses and ideas would be less interesting.

      But just speaking for myself, I’d say getting to the point is always good and shorter is generally better than longer. 200 comments can be a lot to read.

  9. Barry

    You should be aware that the header bar details disappear under certain conditions.
    To get (for me) a more easily readable font size for NC , I have increased it to 125% in the address bar in chrome.
    When you do that the detailed header bar disappears and is replaced by a bar at the very top of the screen with only the word ¨Menu¨ preceded by a hamburger symbol.
    If you click on the hamburger you get the header bar displayed vertically on the left side of the screen.
    As I have bookmarked the site and chrome remembers the magnification – it always opens with just the ¨Menu¨. So until today I had not clicked on the menu and found the entries including policies. It is probably not important because I am probably the only person who does this.
    [BTW to get 125% font size in chrome just hit Ctrl + twice – you will notice a magnifying glass with a + appears in the address bar which you can click on to reset or hit Ctrl – twice]

  10. Gregory Etchason

    Unfortunately it’s just too easy to comment in this format. Only if we could return to the reflective “letters to the editor”. I would vote to just close comments and focus on content. Most are fine with no interaction. I’m usually spent after reading the post to suffer through comments. You tried and that’s all you can do. Objecting only fuels the dysfunction.

  11. Charles Yaker

    I have noticed my comments never inspire debate. Although their relevance is always visible to me they may not be apparent or even concern to others. As a result if I have caused unnecessary work or concern I apologize.

    1. Michael McK

      I don’t think inspiring debate is a marker of relevance. A cogent idea expressed without ensuing conflict or attaboys is appreciated, though your dopamine cycle may feel unrewarded. I bet you cause no work at all.
      I suspect there is a link between how much dopamine one feels at the keyboard and how much work they cause.

    2. Abi

      I think a lot of people read and make mental notes so I wouldn’t be worried about that. But now you’ve pointed it out, I can see why it may be important to engage rather than just mental notes.

      P.S: long time reader but some of the comments bothered me a lot and made me feel a little confused/unwelcome. I am very happy to see not only the amazing Yves & Lambert take this seriously but also a few of the names I recognize.

  12. upstater

    Maybe consider a limit of X comments and Y relies to a given post from an individual? This would help moderate the bandwidth issue. I have seen cases of an individual having 40 of 200 comments on a single post.

    Comments are an important part of NC.

  13. chuck roast

    You may be paying the price for popularity. Add a hyphen to “pop” and you never get anything good. I ain’t readin’ 250 comments.

    1. Robert Gray

      > I ain’t readin’ 250 comments.

      OK, this raises an issue that I have almost asked about maybe a dozen times over the years but always deferred. However, now that it’s on the front burner I’ll go ahead. I live in Eastern Europe. If I check NC just before going to bed, typically around midnight (which is only 5 p.m. in Alabama), there may be an interesting article with, say, 132 comments. When I get up in the morning, that article might have 257 comments. Is there any way to see the new ones without having to go through the whole list again?

      Also, every time I have written here, no matter how unobjectionable — but relevant, interesting, etc. — my comment, it always goes to moderation. At first I thought that it might be because I’m not on an American ISP but sure the commentariat here is well international. Maybe tweaking the algorthms somehow would reduce the workload for the human censors?

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Is there any way to see the new ones without having to go through the whole list again?

        How would the NC site know you were you? Either user accounts (yech) or a cookie we’d have to write code to set and read (yech).

        1. Robert Gray

          I was thinking more of having the option of reading the comments in chronological (or reverse) order, i.e., turning off the nesting, which, after three or four or five levels, becomes impossible to follow anyway.

  14. ambrit

    Just a “crazy” idea. Slap me down if it has been debunked already.
    How about a ‘double click’ comment posting system? The first ‘click’ to post a comment brings up a box that asks; “Do you really want to say this?” I know that I have posted some serious drivel on the fly in the past and regretted doing so later.
    The main counter argument to my idea that I can think of is that people can train themselves, all unconsciously at that, to ‘automatically’ adapt to impediments to performing wanted actions. So, the ‘double click’ method would have to have a discernable delay between the two ‘click to post’ actions; thus to try and keep the double click from becoming standard practice.
    Oh well. For what it’s worth.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > The first ‘click’ to post a comment brings up a box that asks; “Do you really want to say this?”

      I believe Twitter just tried something similar for retweets, and it failed.

      1. ambrit

        Ah. I am not a “tweeteratti” and thus don’t know much about them. Do ‘platforms’ have linkable sources to the results of experiments? (Would that be considered a “trade secret?”)
        [Not an assignment. Just a musing.]
        Secondly, how would a for profit ‘platform’ define ‘success?’ Number of re-tweets, amount of ad revenue generated per tweet, gross number of tweets per unit of time? I really am surprised that these companies continue in business if they were run strictly as businesses.
        For later perusal, Tin Foil Hat construction:

  15. Bobby Gladd

    Sorry y’all have been hit with this trouble. It’s everywhere. I’m increasingly seeing mainstream sites simply getting rid of their comment functionality permanently. Can’t blame them.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      The problem here—and it’s also a blessing—is that the comments constitute a significant added value to the site. Admit it, when the comments are off here the site becomes a *lot* less interesting and informative. If the site were to go comment-free, it would necessarily also become a mere pale shadow of its former self. I’m not in any way knocking the site content but the comment strings are often invaluable.

      My contribution to the moderator workload has always been to consciously strictly limit the number of comments I submit. Even the best and most innocuous comments are a workload for the mod staff that must be slogged through. I’ll try to knock off the “attaboys” and “+1” stuff I’m sometimes guilty of.

      1. Bobby Gladd

        I agree about the net value-add of the commentariat. That’s in significant measure why I come here every day, a priority stop. Emptywheel’s is another. Marcy Wheeler and her crowd rock. And, you don’t want to run afoul of “bmaz” over there.

      2. GF

        Maybe just allow comments on selected links. The financial or government policy articles for instance?? The rest of the links could be read for enjoyment without have to have comments in the back of ones mind. For those articles, if one turns out to be noteworthy, but is not comment-able, then maybe a thumbs up or down to allow a re-post the next day with comments – knowing that the thumbs up/down is for allowing comments to be allowed on it. To make this easier to deal with for the site, have two sections for links. One for the comment articles and one section for the read-only articles with the thumbs up/down option.

      3. Mike Elwin

        I agree with this enthusiastically. Without the comments, I may as well be trolling the web. So I vote for you approving a group of your most wonderful commenters, based on their previous submissions. If a new person wants to be “accredited,” have them submit a few hypothetical comments directly to you or a small committee first. And if too many readers want to be accredited, announce a limit of ten submitters a month. Or whatever you feel is necessary to make management of the site worth doing.

        And I promise I won’t submit any more. I’m not that wonderful except to two friends and my wife, and I’m not sure about the friends. They tend to be too honest for my liking, sometimes.

  16. Airgap

    Thank you for your efforts to keep NC true to its cause.

    Not being familiar with GYOFB I decided it meant Go Yell On Facebook. And then I looked it up. I like the Ritholtz version.

  17. Kurt Sperry

    I’ve numerous times made posts that were well within the written guidelines but expressed a view contrary to the site consensus that have prompted a sternly-worded direct reply from Yves. I have no problem with being in an unpopular minority, and I have no problem having my expressed views challenged but when the challenge comes from the site owner, I don’t feel free to robustly defend them—even if perhaps I should. I just let it drop out of polite deference to authority/pragmatism. Is an annoyed-seeming contrary reply from Yves a moderation warning of some manner or simply a difference of opinion? How does one tell?

    Also even though the posting guidelines are there for all to read, it isn’t always obvious to me where the line is drawn in practice. Much of moderation, even under the best and clearest direction, will always involve subjective judgement. We readers obviously don’t see what is being excised from the comments, so what might look like an obvious bright line to anyone who sees the full moderation process becomes opaque and unfathomable to those of us who only see the finished, moderated product of the process.

    Finally thanks to those who take on the task of comment moderation in the background, a responsibility whose difficulty I am well familiar with and the very definition of a thankless task.

  18. Ernie

    When you first stopped allowing comments a few weeks ago, I felt bad that things had gotten so bad for a valuable (to me, at least) site. Your very useful and clear statement here makes me now wonder if I am part of the problem, at least as far as submitting comments. I wonder if I am constructively furthering the discussion. In any case, thank you for your clear position, and most of all, for publishing valuable and useful articles.

  19. Keith Newman

    As were many, I too was disappointed when the comments section went dark since NC comments are an essential part of the blog and often very interesting and informative. They contrast to the comments I see on other sites which are largely garbage with the odd gem buried deep. I also sympathise with the great effort you expend to supervise and cull the comments section. I’m hoping you’re able to resolve the problems. The NC blog is very important to me.
    I also have an observation and a question. The observation: when I see a thread that already has, say, 200 comments, I rarely read them. Nor will I comment myself even if I think I have something useful to say. This is because the time taken to scroll through dozens of pointless comments takes time I do not wish to expend. I don’t comment because I believe many other people are like me so what’s the point of posting the 201st comment that almost no-one will read.
    The question: perhaps I have already answered it in my observation but I have occasionally posted a “thank you” of some sort for someone’s comment or recommended link. For the blog this is not a useful comment. However it may be for the person posting the comment. At times when I have posted something I believed was interesting and have received no comment from anyone I wonder if there was any point of posting it. A little “thanks” or “interesting” would have been interesting. So my question is whether I should continue at rare times to say “thank you” or not.

    1. Jeff W

      For the blog [posting a “thank you”] is not a useful comment. However it may be for the person posting the comment. At times when I have posted something I believed was interesting and have received no comment from anyone I wonder if there was any point of posting it. A little “thanks” or “interesting” would have been interesting.

      I have a similar thoughts on this point. I’m not interested in amassing tons of “Likes” on a comment—which, in any case, isn’t possible on this blog because there are no upvotes or downvotes—but it is meaningful to me that perhaps one other person appreciated the fact that it was posted. It’s a bit of valuable feedback.

      And I think it is “useful” for a blog generally. I’d think that, ideally, you’d want a comment community that is, among other things, supportive rather than defensive. Merely thanking another person for posting a comment helps in creating that.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > So my question is whether I should continue at rare times to say “thank you” or not.

      The “thank you” is useful to the author you are thanking, yes. But a great number of collective thank you’s is destructive to the blog as a whole.

      Perhaps people might consider adding additional value to their thanks (explain what part of the comment especially struck them), which will tend to increase the signal to noise ratio.

      People might also consider not adding thanks when thanks have already been given.

      They might focus on finding “hidden gems,” comments that they like, but to which nobody has responded.

  20. Starry Gordon

    Allowing a fixed, small number of comments per day per person (say, three) causes those fond of commenting to think carefully about how they use their slots, which in turn seems to improve the quality of the comments.

  21. Rod

    Thanks again for helping everyone understand.

    I think this sites foundation is in that simple effort–helping everyone understand; from the original implosion of Economy back in the GFC to the implosion of the Peaceful Transition of Power last week.
    As Economics has entanglements throughout our lives lived, lives lived in society entangle all variations of Economics that the NC (and commentariat) are grappling with.

    Understanding something, for me– and like climbing, has many hand and toe holds. Presentations by our Hosts through Posts/Links/Water Cooler are the obvious suitcase handles while Comments are more like flakes, knobs and ledges that aid me in the transitioning one big idea to another. I find them very useful, mostly.
    Being a trailer on this climb, i am mostly trusting that the Lead Commentator(s) and the Host are testing the holds for their integrity and i haven’t taken a bad fall yet(of course I pull before weighting because that is just common sense).
    Trust is a precious commodity in these precarious times, and everyone should be nurturing it for the value it has in our gas lighted times. Our hosts extend that to us by allowing comments and the ideas that emerge from them everyday(almost). I expect they also have very high expectations that we would all like to exceed in order to push our Understanding even further.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > Trust is a precious commodity in these precarious times, and everyone should be nurturing it for the value it has in our gas lighted times. Our hosts extend that to us by allowing comments and the ideas that emerge from them everyday(almost). I expect they also have very high expectations that we would all like to exceed in order to push our Understanding even further.

      Well said (though I think trust as a commodity is a contradiction in terms).

  22. lordkoos

    I’ve been guilty of lesser offenses such as the +1 posts which are a result of my own cluelessness rather than a desire to bend the rules — I apologize for not adding value with some of my remarks. I really value the comments here especially coming from the long-time regulars, NC has become a small community of mostly genial folks who make some terrific contributions. In 2020 I stopped commenting for some months as I felt here were so many who have more knowledge and are able to express themselves more clearly that I. I do love to interact here but perhaps I should return to the fly-on-the wall strategy as I have a tendency to be chatty which I need to be more mindful of.

    1. ambrit

      I harbour similar misgivings but evidently do not have as much self control as you do.
      I agree that occasional mini-vacations from commenting would be a good idea. Alas, that idea seems as easy to enact as are fasting days when food is to hand and calling out to kindred substances in one’s brain. (Perhaps I should try them in tandem.)

    1. John Rose

      Not only agnolology but also
      hogging bandwidth: are you referring just to long replies, frequent replies?
      sock-puppeting yourself: a very interesting term. I wish I knew what it referred to
      link-whoring: an even greater term but also unknown to me
      thread-jacking; I assume this means carrying on a conversation different from the topic, or does it?
      jailbreaking: I have no idea how this is possible
      tag teaming: mostly this implies to me more than one person cooperating with the flak

      I am a very literal person, terrible at crossword puzzles which my wife loves. So I have to struggle with subtleties. So I fear I might add to the negativity and burden the hosts unknowingly.

      By the way. THIS conversation is very helpful in that regard.

  23. Anthony G Stegman

    I’ve learned so much from the comments. It will be shame if they are cut off. Please be on your best Comments behavior so that we may all benefit from the many knowledgeable and well informed people who comment here.

    1. ambrit

      Theoretically true, but it sets the site up as essentially neo-liberal in working methodology. The next step in such a scheme would be a sliding scale of donations directly pegged to the word count of the relevant comments. After that, the site devolves into a “Pay as you go” business venture.
      In American politics, most here would agree that one of the major ‘happenings’ to degrade the quality of said politics was the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States. That ruling established a direct link between money and speech. Such a linkage begins a ‘race to the bottom’ in the public sphere.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Perhaps only those who care enough to donate should be allowed to comment.

      Or better yet, your donation buys you X number of comments, and you have to top up every so often….

      Na ga happen. We have valued commenters who have very little money. In any case, to do means-testing, we’d have to set up and manage user accounts, which we are not going to do.

      1. ambrit

        (Snark Alert!)
        I feel confident that somewhere in the “Instrumentality of State Security Services” the needed information is already aggregated and organized. NC could outsource the management of “NC User Accounts” to a purpose built LLC, funded and run by the aforementioned “Instrumentality” in exchange for the data accumulated.
        (End Snark.)

  24. CoryP

    I hope OpenThePodBayDoorHAL wasn’t booted. I liked that guy. Though I didn’t like him as much for a 4 month period this year, but nevertheless.

    It’s a shame because I don’t think WordPress allows the fine grained moderation that this site deserves. And no doubt that would involve more person-hours.

    Also I hope that MyLessThanPrimeBeef is doing okay.

    (Gratuitous comment but I’m expressing my appreciation for commenters here. )

  25. doily

    It appears to me that a significant segment of the commentariat is made up of people who are ignoring the rules, and Yves’s pleas to abide by them. I’m not referring to fallacious argumentation or bad behaviour, which apparently stretches to their limits the resources available to the site for moderation. My point is that a very large number of commenters do not seem to have the same understanding of what “Naked Capitalism is not a chat board or a forum” means. I mostly disagree with the judgement that the comments section “adds value” to the site, and I have pretty much given up on searching for the insightful needles in the haystacks of hundreds of chatty, opinionated comments (especially under Links and Water Cooler).

    Yet nearly every day there are insightful, informative, well-argued comments (especially under featured posts). The time it took to craft them is a blessing to the community. And there are some amazing people who, leveraging vast experience and casting a wide net, come out with them on a regular basis. David is a perfect example, and the rules he spelled out above for his own commenting practice is admirable. Imagine what the comments would look like if everyone adopted his approach!

    But that does not seem to be in the cards. Yves and Lambert have probably considered everything, but techniques that greatly reduce the number of published comments might be worth a try. Removing them entirely from Links and Water Cooler, taking regular comment holidays, and putting the daily addicts on a comment quota – all good ideas.

    1. CoryP

      As much as I don’t like the implications of the above, I think those suggestions are sound.

      This site isn’t supposed to be a chat board. Maybe those who want to chat (myself included) should find an additional forum. Twitter is a dumpster fire but I would really find value in an unmoderated forum where NC regulars shoot the shit.

      There are many issues with this becoming a reality, but in a perfect world I would envision posting on this site, and simultaneously talking shit on whatever subreddit or forum we’ve collectively approved of.

      I think the issue is that you have a real community who wants to banter and joke and fight. But this isn’t the place for it.

      I don’t really know what a subreddit is, but it might not be a bad idea to explore having a separate unofficial discussion space for regulars.

      1. Abi

        Sounds like a good idea but pls don’t choose Reddit lol, if you think Twitter is a dumpster wait till you get to Reddit

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Removing them entirely from Links and Water Cooler

      Na ga happen. Removing commentary on recent events would make life a lot harder for your humble bloggers. It would also mean we didn’t add any value during crises, and we’d lose readers deservedly by not serving them.

  26. Glen

    I think what you guys are dealing with is worthy of a blog post. Even as anecdotal evidence of “how things are going” on the Internet, I would be very interested in your thoughts on this.

    I found this blog in 2008 while I was trying to understand what was happening to our economy. I think the Internet was a different place back then – less angry, more thoughtful.

    Now people are angry, divided, and pigeonholed. I don’t think this “just happen”. There are forces at play that created this outcome, and until we understand and remove those forces we are only going to get more angry and more divided.

    I think what I need to do is increase my support for this wonderful site. This will provide you with more opportunities to continue doing what you all do.


  27. Jon Claerbout

    I live in a community where nearly everyone sits on the same side of the political fence. Few know the opinions of the other side. I try to broaden minds, but they simply take it that I’m on the other side. So I often tell them they can hear both sides if they come to NC and read reader comments. Hooray for NC!

  28. CoryP

    Just to add to the sentiment here (which would be a +1 violation)

    Please don’t get rid of the comments no matter how draconian you have to be. I’m fully willing to give up my minorly-informed often-emotional comment privileges, to be able to observe the discussion fhat happens on this site.

    The policies state that this isn’t a chat forum, and it isn’t. But yet I gain a lot from observing the chat amongst the regulars.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > chat amongst the regulars.

      Chat is human connection, a necessity always but essential in these times (even for introverts). (To clarify, I don’t think I mean chat like a “chat board.” Since I don’t and never have used chat boards, except Usenet, a bit, back in the 90s. I mean chat as a worthwhile conversation, such as you would have at a good party.)

      “+1,” however well-meant, verges on cheerleading (and on political talking points, crosses the line). Pom-pom waving is not a human connection.

  29. Andrew Watts

    Uhh, I just figured I’d point out the new email associated with this nom de guerre was out of necessity and not to dodge any previous moderation status. The @excite email stopped working awhile ago due to a bad domain certification. Kinda sad. Had it since around ’98 or so.

  30. ObjectiveFunction

    Two ‘helpful’ suggestions, although I have no idea how actionable they are:

    1. ‘Low tech’ hack. The site curators tack ‘3 stars’ (or a tiny Che icon, or sumfink) on the handles of consistent substantive contributors who in their sole and unassailable opinion have earned that recognition. Readers, *if we choose*, can do a ‘find in page’ text search for that identifier, thereby skipping to those comments when we don’t have time for the rest. No special scripts needed. (I do this on other sites like Ecosophia btw where I want to see the blogger’s responses only). [And sure, someone could self-tag if they craved the attention, wevs. Abusers are easily dealt with….]

    2. Significantly more complex, but do like FB (ach, ptoo!) and truncate all comments to their first, say, 400 characters, with a ‘read more’ click needed to view the full screed. That puts the burden on each commenter to make their essential TLDR points up front like a journalist would, or to ‘grab’ the reader to get their full essays read. [yes fine, abusers could try to break their rants into serial tweets, wev]

    Many thanks again for the rigorous and intelligent work you all put in for the public good!

    1. Lambert Strether

      > The site curators tack ‘3 stars’

      No, we’re not doing that, it’s too much work. (In addition, I think the dynamics that would create are bad. It would be human nature to compete to win stars from the moderator. People should be trying to win accolades from their peers in the form of extended and useful conversations, as opposed to winning stars.)

      > truncate all comments to their first, say, 400 characters

      That sounds to me like FB is maximizing clicks and time on site. I see your logic, but at the same time, FB is not noted for the excellence of its commentary. I’m also not sure we want commenters “grabbing” people.

  31. Ping

    With great respect to Yves and Lambert et al and with self awareness that my mental caliber is frequently not worthy of contribution.

    Occasionally I do bring insight to a discussion but have a general habit of digressing or what becomes thread jacking on the controversial subjects. I plead guilty and will be more disciplined if I’m not now banned for dismissing Dr. Fauci as a disingenuous Keebler Elf.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > a general habit of digressing or what becomes thread jacking on the controversial subjects. I plead guilty and will be more disciplined

      Thank you. What really frosts us is when the very first comment to a post is off-topic, because then the rest of the comments tend to follow.

      P.S. Fauci told a Noble Lie on the effectiveness of masking, as if he were a Philosopher King and not a public servant. It looks very much to me like he did the same thing with the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. He also gave every appearance of ramping Gilead’s stock based on a press release, endorsing remdesivir, which later proved ineffective in trials for Covid. So let’s not insult the Keebler Elf by comparing him to Fauci, mkay?

      1. CuriosityConcern

        What really frosts us is when the very first comment to a post is off-topic, because then the rest of the comments tend to follow.

        I might have done this on links yesterday, was trying to supplement, not derail or threadjack though.

  32. Ohnoyoucantdothat


    How about, instead of deleting an entire thread because of one offensive comment, just replace the comment with something like “this comment deleted due to offensive content” and leave the rest. Seems it would be much less work.

    1. CoryP

      I think this would also give visibility to the “ban hammer” and might make the rest of us think twice about posting stupid comments.

      Just like the self-censorship societies experience when they have a vigilant Big Brother.

      But in a good way.

    2. Big Tap

      Exactly. I implied this in an earlier message. Have the moderators delete comments that don’t confirm to the service policies. Problem solved.

      Have in each comment the ability to ‘flag’ an inappropiate comment.

    3. tegnost

      Yves pointed out that removing one comment requires the removal of the replies as otherwise messing with the nesting so I don’t see how that is less work. Regarding flagging inappropriate content I can see that being abused by particularly partisan individuals and groups. The “ban hammer” has been fully operational for quite a while.

      1. Big Tap

        If a comment gets deleted it’s probably just as well that other replies associated with the offending comment also get deleted otherwise those reply comments are to a non-existent comment. That’s what Facebook does. If I delete my own comment at a later date any reply to that comment is also gone.

        Regarding potential flagged comments it would still be the decision of the moderators to keep the comment or delete it. Even if flagging were abused I think the moderators would not let that influence their decision.

        What’s a “ban hammer”

  33. CoryP

    Also notable is the amount of non-regulars that have decided to say their piece on this thread.

    I’m sure they speak for a much larger population.

    This community should should keep them in mind,
    and adjust their behaviour as if it was on public display.

    Because it is.

Comments are closed.