Here’s a new question for you:

I am hugely grateful for the terrific commentary 98% of you post. For the most part, I leave the comments pretty open ended. The Commentariat here are intelligent, insightful, enormously helpful. Wired magazine calls this process "Crowdsourcing."

Then, there’s that other 2%.

I almost deleted a comment personally disrespectful to me — but I figured I’d let it slide.

Then I pulled up this person’s comment history: a grand total of 8 comments over 3 months, most of which were smarmy, unhelpful, borderline troll behavior — and worst of all, quite frequently wrong:

• I think you’re wrong on the FIRST QUARTER, Barry. It’s going to come in hot! (2/21/06)

• The chart says buy the S&P 500.  It is due to catch up (3/21/06)

• CORE inflation is benign.  (5/19/06)

So I deleted the comment. Disrespect me in my house, you’re out on your ass.

Here is the Crowdsourcing question: What is the preference for handling these issues?

• Leave the comment intact; The market place will ignore bad ideas/unhelpful posters;
• Respond directly in the comment; (see the last comment here as an example);
• Edit out the offensive part; (Nanny blog lives!) 
• Delete the comment;  (with extreme prejudice)
• Delete dumb comments and ban the offender! (Long live the Benevolent Dictator)

I’m not sure the best way to go, but I am very curious about the group dynamic.

I’ve been spending alot of time dealing with  comment/trackback spam, and ignoring some of the  other issues with comments — but I want to clean them up, keep the comment function useful, and also stay vigilant against trolls.

What say ye?

Category: Weblogs

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

92 Responses to “Question for the Commentariat”

  1. camille roy says:

    The easiest policy is best. Just announce a policy that disrespectful comments will be deleted, and delete them, no editing and no discussion. No reason to allow people to disrespect your space. And if people know they can’t do that here, there will be less provocation and a higher level of discussion.

  2. B says:

    Barry,
    One thing about your blog that is far and away better than others is the free flow of information that takes place. It’s almost used as a chat board or debating forum at times. Personally, I believe that capability likely adds to your reader base and potential subscriber base. If it were me, I’d let all posts stand as is. Most senseless posts aren’t paid any attention to anyway. And, unlike me, you can be wrong.

    What I would be inclined to do is send a personal email to anyone who is always offensive (present company excluded. lol.) and ask them to please show a little respect. Or if you are feeling a little less than medicated that day, respond directly in the flow with a post to humiliate them. (Again, not me.)

    JMO

  3. K-Dawg says:

    If it’s your board then message board is up to your rules. IMO, if the post is not topical then delete it; it’s the easiest way. Personal attacks, spam, flame wars, etc……You don’t want to get too involved with the admin’ing to the point where it takes away from the rest of your activiities.

    Respnding directly gives the person what they’re seeking, which is attention. There is also the possibility that your own emotions get to you and make you look bad. More than likey, others will respond in defense for you.

    Banning an IP address won’t help much because the person could be going through a proxy server.

  4. wayne says:

    Barry, your blog is great.You can do whatever you want with the comments you don’t like. Personally, I have a picture of you on my wall, right next to Stalin’s… ;)

    Seriously, I enjoy the comments and would prefer you err on the side of leaving them up – the stupid ones (rare) are amusing, and I have gotten some good ideas from some of the comments. But spam type stuff and obvious promotion should be canned.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. DaveF says:

    There’s disagreement, and then there’s vicious and nasty behavior. I wish there was more detailed disagreement here that I could follow. I don’t need anyone putting down anyone they like or dislike. So I vote with B here. An e mail because the person might not realize they were being offensive, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, you make the rules where acceptable behavior ends and unacceptable behavior starts. Then, discrete deleting may get the message accorss. It would certainly get me to send an e mail as to where my post had gone. So, it accomplishes the mission. It remains your house that way. I don’t see humiliation paying big dividends. To borrow from B, JMO

  6. Fred says:

    It’s your house and people should behave as proper guests. Spirited discussion is expected. One of the advantages of the web is that no real furniture gets broken.

  7. K-Dawg says:

    Also, don’t let the comments bruise your ego. Sleep is far more important.

  8. toddZ says:

    What you cannot do is give them attention… that’s what these types of people are craving with their posts.

    If you delete the unwanted posts as soon as you see them, these persons will go away and troll on some other webpage.

    Delete and don’t give it a second thought!

  9. Bedemere says:

    Just delete ‘em. If a post seems worthless to you it’s probably worthless to the rest of us too. We’re all busy and don’t have time to deal with flamers and egotists. If you delete something annoying then I don’t have to skim it. There’s nothing worse than having a good thread interrupted by a flame war or useless digression.

    Now, let me tell how sheep’s bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes;)

  10. drey says:

    Agree totally with the first post by Camille. If a comment is disrespectful, offensive, or infantile just delete it. Don’t even think about emailing the person directly as you would just be giving them the attention they crave. If they keep it up I assume you could put them on ‘ignore’ or the equivalent…

    That said, I would not delete posts that you, I, or anyone else objects to because they are deemed wrongheaded or stupid – that’s what the discussion is for, to sort out it all out. Even the bad advice can be good fodder for discussion and only time will tell who is right or wrong on their mkt calls.

  11. Alex says:

    My vote is to warn posters that disrespectful comments, such as personal attacks are unwelcome. Then delete such comments as they come up. These comments add nothing to the dialogue, and may even discourage intelligent and fact based discussion.

  12. moonbiter says:

    Delete disrespectful comments. Anything else is a waste of valuable time.

    Dumb comments are a stickier question. If they are totally useless (i.e. “First post!” or “Me too!”) delete them. Obvious trolls should also be deleted. Otherwise let them be. The marketplace will ignore bad ideas / unhelpful posters.

  13. RM says:

    Just delete the offensive comments. If you feel terrible pangs of guilt, find a way to have them behind another link, so the rest of us can just blow past them. If we really are concerned or worried, we can click the link and see it. Since anyone (including myself) can post anonymously, banning a person is going to be nearly impossible.

  14. dryfly says:

    I mostly lurk here – but love your content – especially the technical trading stuff as I know almost nothing.

    FWIW – I’m on a number of other sites that are quite aggressive – most ignore the offenders but sometimes its hard to do. If nobody feeds the trolls they get hungry & go somewhere else – usually.

    But I wouldn’t make that ‘policy’ – I’d reserve the right to do whatever makes sense at the time including delete/ban/whatever. You seem to have good judgment so use it.

  15. Geoff says:

    If it’s technically feasible – delete the offending comment, and in place of the comment provide a simple link to the original. Keeps the main content clean, and negates any possible claims of censorship as people can then see that what you deem crap is most likely what they’d deem crap too.

    Somewhat of a moderation system as used on digg/etc, with the single moderator being you.

  16. fiat lux says:

    On my own blog, my policy is simple. I pay for the hosting, I decide whether or not a comment gets to stay on my blog. If I think a comment is offensive / trollish / whatever, it goes poof.

    However, I do not edit comments. That seems unfair to the commenters.

  17. John says:

    I think argument is healthy but there is no reason to be disrespectful.

    At any rate it’s your house and one must always be polite to the host (especially when the host is paying for the mike).

  18. Blissex says:

    «If it’s technically feasible – delete the offending comment, and in place of the comment provide a simple link to the original.»

    That would be good, but depending on the publishing system thats probably a bit hard work…

    My personal suggestion would be to tolerate obnoxious people if possible (and dependent on volume, rather than being wrong often), as the occasional annoyance is skippable.

    There are however cases where Barry might want to delete comments, and in that case I recommend removing the text and leaving a note to indicate the content has been removed.

    «negates any possible claims of censorship»

    The issue is not so much censorship; after-the-fact, invisible suppression, as in deLong’s blog, has a slimy feel (as in rewriting history) in a public medium (even if privately managed).

  19. dumbfounded says:

    As a lurker and only occassional poster, I think the best policy is to ignore, but I’d set a limit if someone goes overboard. I’d leave the posts up, but then ban someone without warning after, say, 3 offensive/disrespectful posts.

    Keep up the excellent work and thanks for what you do.

  20. dontcensor says:

    I think you’ll find that if you start censoring you’ll just aggravate people more and they’ll make it their hobby to annoy you.

  21. Si says:

    Just Delete them Barry, I think its going to be easiest that way. Unless you are going to spend extra time monitoring this stuff. Personally Id rather see you putting that time into what you do.
    We know you are not scared of an argument so there is no risk of losing the real debate.

  22. KirkH says:

    Learn from the nerds…

    Sites like Digg and Reddit have a voting system where everybody gets to vote on the comments using up and down arrows.

    Here’s what it looks like

  23. Robbie says:

    As a frequent reader of your blog (though I don’t recall commenting as I believe that if I don’t have anything smart to say – I just keep your mouth shut philosophy), although the “trollish” comments can make your blood boil, it all boils down to your sense of confidence combined with an ROI factor.
    Confidence – so he wrote – he is an A** – too many of these around to pay attention to. What do you care?
    ROI – if you do care, what is the cost benefit analysis of spending time cleaning your blog vs. investing time doing something that generates revenues (ego has a price :)

    My two cents – may even not worth that much when I think about it. Regardless of that, I appreciate your work. Your insights coupled with some geopolitical perspective has already saved me a bundle and made me a bundle – I guess it is a good opportunity to say, THANK YOU !!!
    Robbie

  24. Greg says:

    Ben over at thehousingbubbleblog.com has had the same kind of problems for a long time. His rule is “Do not feed the trolls” basically, if it looks like a troll, and sounds like a troll, it is a troll, so ignore it. I think it’s best if people know this kind of rule to avoid any such comments as they have a tendency to dilute the quality of discussion. Of course, posts that cross the line are removed swiftly. Basically if it doesn’t add value, and is offensive etc, it should be removed. If it is just someone being stupid, it is probably OK to leave alone, people hear are smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. I think Barry’s time is better spend putting together his insightful posts rather than trying to make sure every comment is straight up. Just my 2c.

  25. cm says:

    On the practical side, I’d say deletion should be mostly reserved for comments trying to “abuse the rules”, e.g. google-bomb style linking to irrelevant sites, security-attack type stuff, or anything introducing serious levels of noise, by some reasonable definition.

    Posts carrying zero information content aside from offensive remarks most readers will be able to figure out on their own. If you want to spend the time to delete them, they will probably not be missed either.

    You will not want to get into the business of bowdlerizing them though.

  26. Dave says:

    Barry,

    honestly, the guy (or the few) trolls that post just do it for the attention. By taking the time to delete their comments you’ve not only wasted your time, but you’ve given them some level of satisfaction.

    I think for the most part most of the posters here are pretty much constructive, mature people that would ignore that kind of rubbish anyways.

    But as many people said above: it’s your call.

  27. mj says:

    what bothers you the most , the personal attack , or the fact that he/she ‘s opinions are always wrong ??? having a poor opinion , or even stupid opinion is one thing……. having an opinion other than yours should be allowed to go free….. being disrespectful deserves a delete

  28. me2200 says:

    Barry, the blog is for the discussion of financial issues. Period. I would give absolutely zero tolerance to personal attacks of any kind. None. I like this blog and I don’t want to see it wrecked.

    If I were you, I would be especially critical of attacks on myself. You are a public figure, you put up the blog and you control it. Many of us here like what you have to say. Some of us don’t. That is OK. It is OK to disagree with you, but it it NOT OK to be disrespectful, call names, etc.

    We are not after groupthink. Healthy debate is desired. But name calling, disrespect, trolling, etc. should be FIERCELY dealt with or the good people won’t post. I’ve seen it happen on other blogs.

  29. Greg says:

    There’s a pretty clear consensus in the above comments that you should save your energy.
    That implies deleting the offensive (Barry decides, unilaterally) without even noting the deletion, and simply ignoring the ignorant.
    You don’t want to end up having a long fruitless dialogue with an annoying commenter, like Jeff Matthews has done on his blog.
    Big Pic *does not require any improvements*, just that you remain happy to continue doing it.

  30. You’re perfectly within your rights to remove any comment you want. It’s your website, after all. But I would prefer that you just leave bad comments be; your readers can discern between troll and non-troll. A private e-mail can remind repeat offensive commenters to put more thought into their submissions, or face the possibility that they will be banned from participating in future discussions. If you do feel you have to delete a post, leave a notification in the comments section that the post has been removed, and perhaps include a one-sentence explanation for why. Not leaving any indication creates the impression that the conversation is unedited. If it has been edited, it’s best to let your readers know that.

  31. Other comments policies:

    New Comment Policy
    http://shrinkwrapped.blogs.com/blog/2006/06/new_comment_pol.html

    Until today, I have chosen to leave the comments open in the hope that even when people step out of bounds from time to time, eventually some good discourse could emerge from even the most heated discussion. Unfortunately, recent comment threads have shown that once things go down hill, the race to the bottom takes on a life of its own. As a result, I will no longer tolerate anyone posting threats or overly abundant foul language.

    In line with Freud’s dictum that the first man hurling an insult instead of a spear was the beginning of civilization, creative insults, especially if funny, are always welcome. On the other hand, telling someone “F*ck you” because you don’t like what they said merely indicates a poor vocabulary rather than a trenchant comment.

    In the future, I will offer a warning if someone goes over the line, and a second time will result in the commenter getting banned.

    I don’t know if this is a comment on the political passions of the moment or an outgrowth of the anonymity the internet supports, but when discourse deteriorates, it is not good for anyone involved.

  32. JackNYC says:

    I’ve noticed that some other blogs have a system by which readers can ‘rate’ a comment (IE DailyKos).
    That could be helpful here in many ways.

  33. Drew Yallop says:

    Delete them. We pay you for your judgement Barry and implicitly trust it. Saves us time and makes us money. Don’t let Blog democracy supercede clarity.

  34. ddresser says:

    What is the cost of monitoring comments vs. what is the benefit? It takes time on your part — that is a cost, especially if you are going to monitor systematically. The benefit is also measured in time, but in this case the time that readers save not having to slog through junk.

    If it were me, I would not monitor systematically, but would feel free occasionally to hit the delete button.

  35. emd says:

    i’ve generally enjoyed the comment sections. there have been a few that were over the line with mean spirited personal attacks against pundits and other posters but this is rare and we ignore it.

    so……. is cody willard off limits now?

  36. John Navin says:

    Delete comments that you find offensive. You don’t have to explain the reason — as you say, it’s your house.

  37. emd says:

    now i’m paranoid i’m going to get banned for asking if cody is off limits (was that disrespectful?)….. where do you draw the line?

    if you are going to crack down on comments make the rules known and be consistent.

    i truly enjoy your blog and hope i don’t get banned for my ignorance.

    regards,
    emd

  38. connor says:

    Barry:

    In order to have a commentariat where inane, trolling, or ad hominem comments are “selected out” by the widsom of the masses one is required to have a comment system that allows comment ranking/rating, i.e. slashdot. Then users can rank comments and set a threshold for viewing comments.

    Lacking that, I beleive the benevolent dictator must reign supreme. Your house, your rules. Although the level of commentary here at TBP is very good by Internet standard there will always be a fixed percentage of idiots in any crowd. Making a few examples will send a signal that they shouldn’t waste their time posting garbage.

    One last point. If you are going to delete a post, please make a comment with the name of the poster and the reason for deletion, e.g. ad hominem, nincompoopery, trolling, etc. I believe that sort of public humiliation increases the effectiveness of deletion or banning. Obviously spam is not covered by this rule.

    Keep up the great work. TPB is the first website I visit each day.

  39. me says:

    “His rule is “Do not feed the trolls” basically, if it looks like a troll, and sounds like a troll, it is a troll, so ignore it.”

    Put me down in the camp of B and others. I am not sure what voting on a comment does. The reason I love this blog is becuase I can reason myself and appreciate all of the input, whether I agree with it or not.

    Abusive towards you or any poster is different. It is your blog and your rules. I know if I fell in the 2% I would like to have an idea that my commenets were out of bounds.

  40. griff says:

    Life is short. Ignore almost all of them. Only the most direct and personal attacks should be deleted. Don’t get bogged down in this stuff and keep your eye on the much Bigger Picture. Ouch, that was bad.

  41. Rich DeSio says:

    Delete dumb comments and ban the offender. There must be some “standards” applied in order to protect this site’s value to serious investors. I trust your judgment.

  42. Anonymous says:

    The only ones worth deleting are commercial spam and racist/bigoted postings (rare, I assume.) Dumb/trolling comments are quickly forgotten and moved beyond, the average level of intelligence here is pretty high and you’re not going to see things devolve to the level of the “Mac/PC war” kind of threads that happen on other sites. Most of us just have better things to do than feed that kind of time wasting.

  43. Zapper says:

    Barry you every see Kudlow’s board. If all you have is problem with 2% of the posting what is the big deal? If you are taking a jerks comments so personally I guess you have to do what you have to do but selectively editing out comments because they offend you may ultimately creep to the zone where you are editing those comment of people who do provide intelligent criticism of your point of view. In my experience these guys usually don’t last long and anyone coming to this blog will figure out in 2 seconds the value of their comments. Ignore them and eventually they will get distracted by some shiny object and move on.

  44. Steve says:

    Delete comments that are disrespectful of you or other commenters, allow people to be wrong (that’s how we learn who to listen to). Don’t overanalyze when deleting, don’t let trolls manage your time. Post the policy.

  45. Amur says:

    Hey Barry-

    Just a note on your post— you may wish to list (in summary) some of the “borderline troll” or other obnoxious comments that the deleted commentator posted as by citing the three bulleted remarks it appears that his only sin was being dead wrong on several counts.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take your word for it that this guy needed bouncing as these comment boards can head south awful fast. But you may want to make the point that it’s trolling and not mere idiocy that gets one ejected over here. And some examples will help potential trolls to behave.

    Thanks- Amur

    PS> I’m just nervous as I can feel another attack of idiocy coming on…

  46. Ned says:

    I thought Pete and Mark were doing a fine, and I must say amusing, job of teasing out the trolls, but anything truly offensive should be deleted and you Barry should be the judge of that since it is your Blog. I ignore the dumb noise myself, as much as I can.

  47. Robert Cote says:

    If the esteemed Mr. R doesn’t want to read a comment then I don’t either. Delete and ignore. I’ve no problem submitting to the whims of a benevolent dictatorship when my participation is volluntary. And no, I don’t want any published rules. That only encourages attempts to game the system and trap people in percieved inconsistencies. I guess the only “direction” would be a “do not feed the trolls” caution whenever known posters fall into that pattern.

  48. Gene R. says:

    I vote for:

    Delete the comment; (with extreme prejudice)

    No one will miss the garbage comments. This is a high quality site; please keep it that way by doing what you feel is necessary.

  49. Thanks for all the feedback.

    I will give questionable posts some room — a quick look at the posters comment history will be decisive in close calls.

    I will delete anything that smells troll like, or I find offensive (and its pretty hard to offend me, who wantonly uses phrases like “bitchslapped” only to get lectured by some Harvard undergrad. (Hey, its hard out here for a pimp).

    Really bad commenters will get a warning; perhaps I can set up a bot for that.

  50. TraderGene says:

    Hi Barry,
    I have no problem with deleting some comments with extreme prejudice. I don’t want to waste my time reading comments that are off point and show disrespect.

  51. D. says:

    The problem with deleting is that you risk losing a lot of information.

    I don’t like disrespectful comments but they tell me a lot about what’s going on in the market’s psyche.

    On other blogs, I’ve witnessed many disgusting racist outbursts but I did get a flavor of what is really happening in Southern California.

    Everyone wants everything to be perfect but in reality, it’s in ugly situations that we learn the most.

    Barry, you’re a bright guy, just keep on moderating.

  52. PigInZen says:

    Barry,

    I wouldn’t bother doing anything extensive. Sure, signal to noise is important but it would be easier to just do something like this:

    http://www.37signals.com/svn/archives2/introducing_the_troll_cap.php

  53. Jeff Donovan says:

    To use a Jack Welch lesson, why let 2% of the people ruin the fun for everyone else?

    I would not only delete the comment but see if typepad would allow you to stop that person from commenting in the future.

  54. ~ Nona says:

    Benevolent dictatorship works for me.

    This means handy-dandy use of your delete key for anything you consider to be a violation, including (but not limited to) disrespect for the host and incipient “race to the bottom” type comments.

  55. dforester says:

    This is actually my first comment, but I read most all of them, for some months now… ;-)

    It might be a little more technical, but I’m with Connor – I’d love to see something akin to Slashdot’s system – both with threaded discussion, that would be easier to follow, and several people who can moderate/rank the discussion.

    You may also explore what legal issues you editing comments implies – I know “All opinions presented here are those of the poster”, or what-not, but if you edit comments, do you incur any liability for what’s here? You’re then chained to editing ad infinitum, whereas if you leave it free-for-all – and depend on rankings/ratings to deal with the trolls – you have a little more plausible deniability, as it were…?

    Just some thoughts – love the blog. Please keep it up!

  56. GregHags says:

    Delete them. They waste space. If people look at a blog and see thought provoking, intelligent comments like those posted on your blog, they are more likely to return and less likely to post idiotic, time wasting comments. You and the readers set a high bar– keep it that way. Don’t let the miscreants water things down.

  57. Get Long Vega says:

    For offensive comments, maybe consider really encouraging them to be as disrespectful as they can be. Tell them to really go for it. See if they can get it all out. Come on, they can be MORE disrespectful!

    Then reply to them. Maybe let them know that you know that they know that they’re not feeling so well.

    But maybe that course of action is better suited for truly offensive comments?

    In fact, it seems like the three comments you listed as ‘offensive’ are merely hotly-bullish opinions. Of course I’m a bear and so are you. But if you pull the other side of our trades, where’s the liquidity? If anything, those ‘offensive’ comments may serve as good information. Or, more clearly, if 90% of day traders lose money, why don’t we hire a bunch of them and rewire the buy button to sell and the sell button to buy?

    All in, I vote for a free market: no censure. It’s up to you and US to police the board by being emotionally honest with ourselves and others. Deleting comments because you don’t agree with them in fact or tone merely serves to show us all that WE (we are a community of readers and posters) are incapable of dealing with them intelligently.

    Of course, all that is JMO. ;)

  58. Mark says:

    Aaaagh! If Alaskan Pete and I are censored for our Kudlow banter I’ll, I’ll, I’ll ……. well, I guess I’d actually have to find something intelligent to say about the markets for a change.

    Benevolent Dictatorship works for me also. It’s Barry’s World and we are just visiting his planet.

  59. Bob A says:

    Keep it random and unpredictable.

  60. roscoe ii says:

    Don’t waste your time directly responding on those who obviously disagree with you unless you wish to make a point.
    Could you keep those ‘disagreement’ comments in, but color code them red or blue or something so those scanning comments know whay YOU think about comments?

  61. eightnine2718281828mu5 says:

    I worked at a company that built an IP implementation back in the 80′s, and it was a very MIT counter-culture sort of place.

    A common phrase heard in the hallways was “we’re building this software for people that hate us”.

    Welcome to the internet. A landscape of psyches where the rocks and trees are not all beautiful.

  62. dark1p says:

    Death…by booga-booga.

  63. Alaskan Pete says:

    Easy there Mark, we might get send to banned camp.

    Barry, I moderate a section of a discussion board on a sporting topic and that crowd is WAY more prone to bad behavior. Seems to me the easiest thing is not to set a specific policy, but just keep doing what you’ve been doing. My poking at you for censoring has always been intended in jest.

    I’d just delete what you want to and if someone is repeatedly being a no-value nuisance, warn them once then put an IP ban on them (blocking their ability to post.) Problem with IP bans is that you can inadvertently block entire universities or large companies while intending to target a specific user.

  64. trip says:

    I ignore pointless comments. Regular readers can discern between who knows what they are talking about and who does not pretty quickly.

  65. William says:

    Delete them, ban the poster. I’ve seen too many boards deteriorate because of trolls causing flame wars. Like you said, don’t dis me in my house.

  66. kevinmr says:

    The success of your blog speaks for itself. I trust you to decide when a post has crossed the line.

  67. im1dc says:

    It all depends, with the example given I think responding in the comments works best and gives even more clarity to your thinking, however, some posts and posters deserve to be deleted although I have not seen any examples of that need on this Blog–so far.

    When and if they hit, you will know its time to press Delete and Block the sinning spammers from your blog.

    I truly enjoy your Blog, login at least twice a day.

  68. Jeff Howe says:

    Great discussion. For what it’s worth, I don’t consider blog comments to be a case of crowdsourcing, unless you consciously employ those comments to provide you with the content of your posts. On the other hand, I’m a big fan of the Slashdot rating system, and do consider it to embody one aspect of crowdsourcing: the ability of the crowd to ferret out signal and block out noise.

  69. JWC says:

    I haven’t bothered to read all the comments, but I agree with the first commentor. Just delet disrespectful, off topic comments.

    I read about 20 blogs daily. Many of them I never bother to check the comments because of the trolls and troll wars. A few blogs have excellent comments, and reading them is almost as good as reading the original post. I always read comments here, they are quite interesting and I love that you pop in sometimes and respond.

    As your blog becomes more and more popular, trolls can be an issue. Just delete them, no guilt. I think many of them are just trying to be disruptive.

  70. Ian says:

    Barry, maybe the best solution is to give some of your most respected commentariats the power to flag comments as potential deletions so that you can get the worst ones off as quickly as possible. If they realize their efforts to advertise or just create a stir will be fruitless (e.g. their posts won’t be up for long), they will move on to another blog.

  71. Ian says:

    Barry, maybe the best solution is to give some of your most respected commentariats the power to flag comments as potential deletions so that you can get the worst ones off as quickly as possible. If they realize their efforts to advertise or just create a stir will be fruitless (e.g. their posts won’t be up for long), they will move on to another blog.

  72. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Offenders ought to be subjected to watching all episodes of “The Simple Life”.

  73. Free speech is under attack in too many places already (myspace.com). I only delete AND ban spammers. If I object to a comment, I reply.

  74. News guy says:

    Barry:

    First off, you’re doing a hell of a job with this blog. Every time I read it I come away with a deeper, richer understanding of how the economy is behaving.

    I’m a journalist by profession, and one of the toughest things to learn is that people are going to take shots at you _ irrelevant, personal, nasty, wrongheaded shots. Just let them. Replying to them only dumps more energy into the nastiness than it deserves.

    But it’s better to be the target of some occasional ickiness than to set yourself up as a censor.

  75. L'Emmerdeur says:

    A little old-school internet advice (if such a thing exists):

    Don’t feed the trolls.

    Delete and ban. Respect their rights when they start paying your hosting bills. If I want professional, high-grade trolling, I’ll read the Warcraft forums.

  76. Bynocerus says:

    This harks back to a question you posed a month ago. Personally, I’d rather go through a registration process than use the confirmation page every time I want to post. This place has already become kinda like Cheers, where everyone knows the regulars anyways, and I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I’d imagine that Mark, B, Pete, jkf, Trader75, etc would oppose that either given their frequency on this site.

    And in case anyone cares, I took stab #3 with the play money trying to get long this market yesterday. Oops.

  77. CAtim says:

    Hi Barry,

    another technique used on some political blogs is to mock or ridicule the comment and commenter within their comment. best when it follows a previous warning. when done well, it’s not only efficacious, but entertaining. (best saved for egregious instances of a troll trying to hijack the thread.) there’s something about turning one person’s negativity into many people’s amusement which appeals. don’t rule out any options. it’s your site, and your call.

  78. Guy says:

    Delete the comments so that you maintain the integrity of the blog. People are attracted to a blog for the quality of the commentary. They expect the commentary to be up to your standards.

  79. Brian says:

    with great blog traffic comes, er,.. um, great editorial decision making responsibilities….

    all of the above

  80. Joe says:

    It would be valuable to have all comments preserved and accessible, no matter how ridiculous. This policy would enable you to say that you don’t censor comments. But since most people won’t want to see crap, except maybe to trace the historical posts of a poster, you can hide stupid/offensive material under a link so that it is there if somebody really wants to see it. This should take about as much work as censoring and it will require less agonizing over whether a post should be relegated to the hidden/depracated zone.

  81. Roland says:

    Barry, your blog is about the only financial one I bother to read, thanks partly to your Linkfest on TSC and partly to your Apprenticed Investor. My vote on disrespectful comments is to delete them you #$!. Seriously, my variant on Gresham’s Law says that bad comments drive out good comments. Tough, to-the-quick analysis is helpful. Rude, arrogant behavior will not be missed. Thanks for your key-punching.

    ~Roland

  82. Nick Z says:

    leave the comments in Barry. In the case you cited, it helps us out to have individuals like that to use as contrary indicators.

    Nick

  83. kevin_r says:

    Barry,
    I appreciate your blog tremendously. It is your call. If you feel that certain posts should be deleted for the sake of the caliber of discussion, then there is no need to hesitate. The reason why blogs work but usenet discussions fell apart is that someone (the blog owner) serves as referee. Blog owners provide their readers and participants a service by keeping the discussion space clean enough to use.
    On the other hand, as one reader, I have found little on this blog that I just skip over and it never reaches a point that I just give up on an entire thread (and possibly miss something useful buried amidst the nonsense). That does happen even on other good blogs I read.
    About your comment about some offensive posters being wrong all the time, I took to mean not that you would delete because someone was wrong, but to the contrary, if someone was offensive but happened to be right often, you would refrain from deleting them for the sake of the useful input.

  84. Todd Mentch says:

    Barry,

    Love the info you give – thanks. Read here always, and I post very infrequently. But, for what it’s worth, I would say give a poster three strikes and they’re out. And delete anything you find offensive or simply time wasting. And you make that distinction. Like you said, it’s your house. If poster is just wrong, leave it up; makes them look foolish in the long run anyway.

    Take care, and thanks again!

  85. RB says:

    Barry, It’s indeed your house, but if it’s only 2% and not very offensive, you could give some rope. I find this blog and commentariat *extremely* useful and I just ignore the trolls. Hope you will continue this blog in the present form!

  86. whipsaw says:

    Since everybody else is offering an opinion, I’ll just say that if BR finds something offensive, delete without any comment or fanfare, otherwise just let things flow. You won’t get anywhere banning people, IPs, etc., too easy to circumvent.

    BR has been jumped a couple of times recently about charts, etc., that some of you thought were of dubious worth, but always in a respectful manner as I recall. That’s fair play regardless of who is right or wrong and the kind of thing that makes visiting here worth the time spent.

  87. I dont mind the criticism — especially if its well thought out and explained — and I’m not asking for compliments, either.

    I thiknk we have a good mix of people, and I will try to keep it productive and useful for the 98%

  88. Craig says:

    First, Thank You Barry.
    I don’t post, I read. I come here to get your view of the world and market, and for the excellent and intelligent responses, not for personal attacks. I’m good with that being the perview of Ann Coulter, but it isn’t really appropriate public behavior.

    Criticizing ideas and theories presented by people: Okay.
    Criticizing PEOPLE due to lack of intelligent response: NOT okay.

    You are the parliamentarian and Sargeant at Arms.
    I’m happy with whatever you choose to keep order in your house.

    Again, thank you.

  89. wcw says:

    Wish I hadn’t been so busy lately, since I absolutely believe in the following advice: prune trolls aggressively if they are withing the first couple comments. Once you get a good conversation going, it is self-regulating. However, if it starts off wrong, you may as well write it off.

    Don’t call it a nanny blog, call it a well-regulated comments marketplace. If you catch someone trying to corner the market (a first- or second-post troll), punish them.

  90. peter says:

    All your proposed ideas have a place in the mix. The particulars of the post and how you feel about it (and the poster’s history) should determine your action. Deal and move on.

  91. Matt says:

    As KirkH and Connor said, the idea that seems to show the best ability to scale is comment moderating like Slashdot and digg. No clue if typepad supports it, but if they don’t, you might request that they do before someone else does.

    Failing that, the next idea that really strikes my fancy is a system where you can delete the post…but for everyone except the poster. Imagine their frustration if nobody ever seems to respond. You get the best of both worlds unless they figure it out: good people don’t see bad posts and bad people wonder why nobody responds to their flamebait.

    Option 3 I guess would be a way where flames appear only as a link to a separate page. Those who are curious what the hotheaded of the world “think” can go look. The rest of us can skip right by.

    If typepad makes all those choices difficult, I say first offense or two: delete and warn; third offense: ban.

    adeu,
    Mateu