BR: In the post last week Fisking McArdle, there seemed to be a concerted, coordinated Troll effort both here and at naked capitalism to counter the factual criticism of McArdle with bad arguments and poor rhetoric.

As someone who spends lots of time looking at patterns, the response looked totally non-random. Don Druid gives a solid explanatory as to why that is,

It is an important enough point that I am elevating his comment to a post of its own.


I’ll freely admit that I never read this blog until the eXiled directed me here. However, many of the comments made by ‘readers’ look very familiar.

You’ve certainly noticed that as soon as your link went up, a bunch of mysterious comments appeared following the same pattern:

1) Dubious compliments for you and your site, often with false claims of long-time readership (good catch on one of these very early in the comments);

2) False statements that “all of this is already known”, “nothing to see here”, etc. about the facts on McArdle;

3) False statements that “both sides do it”, “everyone does it”, etc. about McArdle’s naked conflicts of interest;

4) False statements accusing you of being a Democratic partisan, designed to draw discussion away from McArdle;

5) False statements arguing that there is effectively no such thing as a conflict of interest[!], and that McArdle’s financial interests in the subjects she covers mean nothing.

Awfully suspicious, isn’t it?

It’s almost as if these comments were crafted around a single playbook, with dos and don’ts handed down from above.

Of course, if you keep an eye on Facebook ads, you’ll see the Kochs and their various shell organizations constantly putting feelers out for people to contribute to “online presence” for their anti-rule-of-law goals and missions. Heck, the Kochs even run a summer camp at GMU on this topic, described in the article about McArdle, to which a number of my friends in graduate and professional schools were invited this year (all declined).

As was done with McArdle, the Kochs attempt to recruit students and young professionals and boot-camp them into this sort of false public pseudo-intellectual propagandizing.

I’m pretty certain that the young shock troops have been deployed here and elsewhere to defend McArdle with the various lies and smears you can find in the comments made by others above.

Thanks for taking them on – I’ll keep reading.



BR: I’d love to get a copy of that playbook — please use comments for links or PDFs if you can direct me towards it !


Category: Web/Tech

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.

60 Responses to “Deploying Shock Troops Against Blog Posts”

  1. relishketcrehup says:

    Ask and ye shall receive. Here’s the playbook.

  2. ibid says:

    My comment on your McArdle post fits into the above criteria.

    I’m decidedly not a Koch-paid flunky. (But then again, I WOULD say that, wouldn’t I?)

    I defend McArdle because I read her blog consistently, and commented on it frequently, when she was at The Atlantic. I found her to be someone that I disagreed with pretty consistently, but also someone who approached problems with intellectual honesty and challenged my assumptions in a way I found quite useful. The same is definitely true of Mauldin’s posts on this site.

    For reference, my Disqus name on her site was Thorsky. My guess is that I was generally regarded as one of the handful of house liberals by the others who frequented her comment section. Feel free to look up my comments yourself. After reading a few of them, I think you’ll admit that if I were some kind of Koch-funded shock trooper, I’d be playing a deep game indeed.

    Finally, Barry, if you care enough and would like my real name, let me know and I’ll send it to you via email.

    Make of that what you will.

  3. ilsm says:

    6. The spelling is good.

    7. Grammar is good.

    8. Reads like a newspaper article, target 8th grade reading level.

  4. RW says:

    Can’t speak to the playbook but the pattern listed in the post closely corresponds to two very common logical fallacies, both of which are actually a form of red herring:

    1. The tu quoque fallacy; e.g.,
    Corresponds to items 3 & 4 in the pattern list. This fallacy is a classic red herring that attempts to turn criticism back on the the critic by a “you also” or “your side does it too” rejoinder. It is a fallacy because whether someone else does whatever is at issue is completely irrelevant to the truth of the original criticism or claim.

    2. ignoratio elenchi; e.g.,
    Corresponding to items 1, 2 and 5 in the pattern list, this is the ultimate red herring, what Aristotle considered a major root of all fallacy: an argument that essentially ignores the conclusion it is supposed to be reaching, scattering shiny objects and other verbal debris as distractions along the path to nowhere.

  5. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Gotta like it when the clones, or is it drones?, surface via flash mob, etc., but lack the charm, elegance, and wonderment of the impromptu concert, dance party, etc. Tone death? You bet!

  6. Northeaster says:

    I have written both Barry and Susan et al. with questions and comments, they have been answered professionally and courteously. Kudos to both.

    No one knows all, and those that pretend to know all are easy to spot. The “blogosphere” is full of these traps, don’t let hubris or self-affirmation cloud reason or FACT.

    The forces we face today, whether Koch/Soros, Left/Right, Democrat/Republican, are harbingers of illusion.

    Filter the noise, follow your instinct and be true to yourself, the TRUTH always prevails, maybe not today, but it always does.

    Still hoping for a massive financial/blogosphere/”in the business” conglomerate to testify in front of CONgress that no longer reads/writes the laws that govern us, and make them look like fools. Possibly wake Americans, whether Left or Right, wake up.

  7. louis says:

    I found it

    Sorry B

    Speaking of the truth Nancy Pelosi just said you are all better off. Her logic was that it was only 4 years ago that she was told there would not be an economy on Monday. So of course you are better off.

    That’s your country folks.

  8. InterestedObserver says:

    McArdle – new meaning to “not even wrong”.

  9. VennData says:

    The interactivity of an active blogger who responds to hacks trying to spin the reportage of this twisted Right Wing (I don’t see the Left there… nor any Soros’ money Nor’easter) conspiracy deserves some kind of Pulitzer. Share it with Yves.
    That Koch has to implement his media madness (including those insuffurable large-font, un-signed, unsourced emails that the weak-minded email around) means he knows he’s a liar and not a Libertarean, bt a guy who just wants low taxes for himself, American media culture be damned.
    Ritholtz is a hero. Koch is a Log Cabin Libertarean of the bath-house-disease spreading kind.
    Pulitzer committee are you paying attention?

  10. vachon says:

    Then there are the political blog trolls who have been following this playbook for years. They pretend to give honest and meaningful advice on various left wing blogs from the viewpoint of being on the other side. For example, Daily Kos got lots of “well meaning” Republicans who would come in and say stuff like “Even though I’m a Republican, your candidate X would really score some hits on Candidate Y if they would take ____ position on ______ topic and hammer it home.”

  11. CharlesII says:

    Louis says, “Speaking of the truth Nancy Pelosi just said you are all better off. Her logic was that it was only 4 years ago that she was told there would not be an economy on Monday.”

    Yes, Louis, speaking of the truth, she was told by the man with the most power over the economy that your economy would not exist unless the Congress poured hundreds of billions into the banks. That economy happens to be my economy, too, and the economy of 300 million Americans.

    Now, perhaps four years ago you had just had a really bad day– you’d been run over by a steam shovel or told you had cancer or been given a Lorena Bobbitt by your wife. Maybe today, you are much better off.

    But most of us can look at the S&P on 9/26/08 and the S&P today and say we are about 20% richer.

    And that’s the truth.

  12. Oral Hazard says:

    There have been a few names here in the past few years, “cognos” and “otto” being two that come to mind. “Cognos” struck me as a high-end troll, which I always took to be a compliment to Barry’s blog that whoever backs these types send the A-Team to TBP.

    If you look at the comment sections of a lot of MSM news sites, like CNN and the Boston Globe, these things turn into political food fights with the slightest of rationales. Crime stories involving black or Latino suspects come back to some supposed failing of Obama. Any economic problem: same thing. It’s nauseating.

    I’ve been convinced for some time that there is are various Mother Ships providing talking points to fake commenters on high-profile blogs. I believe Barry even posted a partisan talking-points sheet a year or so ago originating in a D.C. law/PR firm. Barry’s called people out in comments for obviously parroting talking points for a long time.

    Pattern recognition is helpful. A lot of the time you just sense something not quite legit about the style and content of comments. At the low end, you’ll see it as spam comments that present an obviously fake conversation between fake commenter handles that never appeared on the site previously, usually about some gold web site or some such b.s.

    So it’s not just the creepy political misinformation types that do it; it’s a species of comment spam, really.

  13. gman says:

    Well done. It is great that someone w/ Barrys high profile platform platform, outline what I have suspected has been going on for quite a while.

    People or machines paid by the post with various well crafted pre-scripted responses to derail, subvert and misdirect discussions on behalf of paying client?

  14. papicek says:

    That’s why god invented the block and ban.

  15. cmurphy9059 says:

    Charles II says,”But most of us can look at the S&P on 9/26/08 and the S&P today and say we are about 20% richer.”

    Actually most of us can’t say this because most of us own little or no stock. The bottom 80% of the population owns less than 9% of all stock.

    The stock market is not even remotely an accurate measure of the financial health of most Americans, unfortunately our policy elites think it is. We’d be a lot better served if they ignored the stock market and worried about what matters to most Americans , things like unemployment and healthcare and education costs.

  16. bonalibro says:

    I’ve noticed this, too, on many websites. Particularly on the Whenever Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars (inspired by Lewis Powell’s famous letter to the Chamber of Commerce) posts something, there are hundreds of supportive comments right away and obnoxious attack dogs jumping on every objection. They are the most controversial postings on the Chronicle’s blogs.

    I’ve also noticed when I use the word plutocracy in my New York Times comments, they are moderated out.

  17. SecondLook says:

    The stock market is not even remotely an accurate measure of the financial health of most Americans

    I think that is only a partially true statement. Given the quoted statistic, that means that 90% of us own directly, or through mutual funds, approximately $1.3 trillion dollars worth of equities. That works out to roughly $13,000 per household in the bottom 90%.

    However, that is misleading, for ownership isn’t equally distributed. I think it’s fair to say that for the bottom two income quintiles, the bottom 40% stock ownership is non-existent, or miniscule. Which leaves the 40-90 percentiles owning that 1.3 trillion.
    Again, ownership in that group isn’t evenly spread. Regardless, considering how little real net worth most households have (and historically, most of us never had much), equities do account for a significant amount of the total.

    As I noted in parenthesis above, the financial health of the bottom 80% of Americans has never been particularly good. Less that half owned/owns homes, and much smaller owned them free and clear. Their ability to save money was limited, if they had pensions, they were generally modest. If they weren’t living from paycheck to paycheck, their net worth grew very small over their lives.
    There is a mythos of a lost golden age of prosperity, that included all but the very poor. The truth is that most people just got by, some more comfortably than others, but they were, then and now, vulnerable.

  18. Jo says:

    I worry about both sides of the coin.

    Yes, the concerted troll attack is noticably rising in frequency – here in the UK, I see it daily on the political blogs, especially directed at those of an anti-EU bent (the grammar can be a clue).


    I am also concerned that more and more blog owners are using such attacks to award themselves ‘a free pass’ wrt discussion of their content. Unwise content and receiving an unwelcome troll attack aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Love & peace.

  19. Greg0658 says:

    louis thats not it – how about
    Gov Walker faux call from his __?DK
    unless that is a reverse psych out – “I’m a fool to do your dirty work”

    tailend of thread w/2ndLook “$1.3 trillion dollars worth of equities”
    imo the $13K would be less than that as the market expells to the soul survivor years baby boomers

    that/this is the mismatched unbalanced machine we are attempt’g to fix without pain via $ Law

    back to faux call – another method to fix issue – pain be damned ( for its not our pain) – draw down all wages to a world balance (China too)

    the mismatch to personal balance sheets – at all levels of home & state ..
    tho I don’t understand a Gov wishing to see a massive deflation of wages in his territory – it will wreak havoc on property taxes and sales taxes too

    .. double tho – it’s my beaver dam transfer theory in play – sometimes progress takes 100 years – and the grandkids see the best of times

  20. Cato says:

    This is absolutely fascinating; I had no idea that such shenanigans occurred on messageboards. It’s quite pathetic and yet also quite worrying at the same time.

    Makes me wonder how many paid “shills” UKIP has operating on the Daily Telegraph website, hundreds if not thousands by the look of it…

    Thanks Barry!

  21. Greg0658 says:

    was wondering – we bloggers should set an industry standard
    ‘quote’ = taken from inside this thread
    “quote” = taken from an outside source

    ‘ “I’m a fool to do your dirty work” ‘ is a Steely Dan reference
    coming ftom this single one of “a thousand points of light”

    or visaversa – I da’know :-)

  22. Cato says:

    Having only woken up to this issue this morning, I noted that ‘deputisation’ of readers as moderators has been touted at The Atlantic. Here’s the link if you want to check it out:

  23. Malachi says:

    Wow. I did wonder about all those comments and they did subtly mute my own disgust with McArdle. Fascinating eye opener.

  24. gms777 says:

    I barely know who Ms. McCardle is, but I read the article Barry posted a week ago that condemned her on numerous grounds. The brutality of the criticisms was so over the top, so relentless that one might have though she was Hitler. Not only did the criticisms involve her recent writings but also her college background and her father. Fair perhaps if she’s running for President. Otherwise, hard to believe she’s worth the effort, whoever she is.

  25. [...] movement.Labor Income Dropped Off the Cliff Starting in 2000 Dave Dayen, Firedoglake (Carol B)Deploying Shock Troops Against Blog Posts Barry RitholtzQuadrillion Dollar Derivatives Market 20 Times Global GDP Real News Network. The [...]

  26. dead hobo says:

    BR noticed:

    It’s almost as if these comments were crafted around a single playbook, with dos and don’ts handed down from above.


    Well said. I’d like to offer my own thoughts on this, but I have been dieting for a couple of weeks. Starving, actually. Including almost no alcohol. And lots of extra exercise on non-alcohol-free days. I think I’m at a 1/2 pound a day rate at this time, which makes me dizzy and probably isn’t healthy. But I’m impatient and need to lose 30 or so pounds. The LDL, HDL and triglycerides are out of whack.

    I’m shocked to read that there is a lack of truthfulness in blog commentators. You would think they would try to emulate the blog owners and others you read on the internet. If it’s video, it’s also true. Especially if the production values are high. Me, I just pull shit out of my ass.

    Gotta go now and look at pictures of food.

  27. BennyProfane says:

    I think you bloggers are getting a bit paranoid lately, to tell the truth. I have recently been banned (blocked is probably a better word – my comments simply don’t appear) from Naked Capitalism because I dared to disagree with a few silly things that Yves has written, after the shock troops who she approves to comment there figuratively tied me to the whipping post. Amazing how quickly the first amendment is forgotten when your view of the world is criticized. And, I’m far from the right wing Koch plant she, or her lackey censors, think I am. Hell, I’m pretty much to the left of 90% of the people I know.

  28. BennyProfane:

    First Amendment rights?

    No one is stopping you from starting a blog (try Blogger, its free), laboring in obscurity for years, doing all of the heavy lifting yourself, coming up with an angle or analysis that is unique and read-worthy, consistently posting on a daily basis, eventually getting “discovered”

    The commenters who get banned dont give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about the 1st Amendment — they wabt to free ride on the hard work of the blogger to be seen and heard — often to obscure the work of the blogger themselves, occasionally for nefarious reasons.

    No one else has the RIGHT to edit my work, nor do they have the right to spin it on my own blog or hijack the comment thread to fly it to Cuba.

    To those who claim 1st Amendment: GYOFB

  29. ilsm says:

    Poor BennyProfane,

    Koch, there are others; newscorps, etc. I don’t know you.

    No red lines in my MS word paste of your post!

    I do not care to calculate the reading grade level of the paragraph.

    I am pretty right of 90% of my friends who camped out at Zuccati Sq……………..

    Go to DoJ Sec Holder with your concerns for the First Amendment on the blogosphere.

    Sorry you were banned, it could have been worse, thumb screws and all!

  30. Tarkus says:

    I remember a Yahoo article that had a story about software that can fake posts as though they are different people, as it tries to put out a view of a (false) consensus, attempting to sway opinions.
    Can’t locate the Yahoo article, but this one is along the lines of it.

  31. CharlesII says:

    emurphy says, “Actually most of us can’t say this [that we are wealthier than four years ago] because most of us own little or no stock.”

    True if “us” refers to the general population. Since this is a financial blog, it isn’t a blog for the general population. I’ll freely concede that recovery of the stock market hasn’t directly benefited most Americans.

    However, secondlook is correct in pointing out that a lot of financial wealth is held by households well outside of the top 1% and that it does drive the spending of a key part of those people. That’s why the Fed has been so keen to keep stock prices from crashing: they feed into the general economy.

    And, more to the point, the stock market crash was being driven by a financial crash. Nancy Pelosi quotes Ben Bernanke as selling the bank bailout by promising that if they didn’t do it, there wouldn’t be an economy by the next Monday.

    I just get tired of the Republican talking point that comes down to: all of our problems were caused by Barack Obama. C’mon.


    gms7777 complains that criticisms of Megan McArdle “was so over the top, so relentless that one might have though she was Hitler.”

    I read the comments. Your characterization of them is over the top.

    Megan McArdle presents herself as a journalist. She has been trained and paid by an ideologically-based propaganda operation. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that’s pretty much the way “journalism” worked in the Soviet Union (the strings on Soviet journalists were quite a bit shorter, but the principle is the same).

    If we do not shame people who are pretending to be journalists in an attempt to clean up the system, then we are to blame for the sewer that journalism is becoming.


    Bennyprofane says [about having his/her comments blocked by Yves], “Amazing how quickly the first amendment is forgotten when your view of the world is criticized.”

    You misunderstand. The First Amendment does not apply to private property. As I remind people who waste my time and insult me on my blog, a person’s blog is like their home. You don’t come into someone’s home, behave like an ass, and expect to be invited back.

  32. Oral Hazard says:

    I got attacked for critiquing the SHAME presentation. Fuck that. If I want some Amen Corner echo chamber action I’ll go to the Naked Capitalism comment section. Yves sometimes really brings it with terrific posts, but her comment section is often unreadable.

    It’s like Calculus exams, but with people emotionally invested in the answers. “The answer is -2.” And the crowd gets all passionate: “Fuckin’ A, man, I support -2!” and “Anybody who doesn’t support -2 is an asshole!”

    Well, you get zero points for not showing all work. And if part of your calculation is irrelevant or wrong, you lose points because you haven’t mastered the methodology and you’re some grade of lucky hack.

  33. BennyProfane says:


    Private Property? Really? c’mon. You start up a blog that the entire world can see, and claim some sort of private ownership to it, even after you invite anybody in that world to comment?
    I was far from behaving like an ass. That’s for the WSJ commenters. I was politely disagreeing, and I was eliminated from the conversation. The quality of her blog will suffer, not my opinions.



  35. DeDude says:

    Those errors of logic and argument are kind of “standard issue” for people who want to defend something because they like the person/organization, but don’t have anything coherent and logic in its defense. The question is whether there are more or less organized efforts to recruit “defenders” when influential blogs like this points to the weaknesses of the Koch puppets. The wast right wing conspiracy is not a new phenomenon, the question is to what extend it is centrally controlled and/or organized.

  36. BennyProfane says:

    @Barry Ritholtz

    Then why even have a comment section? To pick and choose the strokes?

  37. gman says:

    “I’m decidedly not a Koch-paid flunky. (But then again, I WOULD say that, wouldn’t I?)”

    I’m not either but I would entertain an offer..hahah! Call me maybe?

  38. gman says:

    “@Barry Ritholtz

    Then why even have a comment section? To pick and choose the strokes?”

    Barry should get paid for advertising on the posts that have an industry or PR agenda. This is his forum and if PR/marketing/ad firms and think tanks want to use it to advance their agenda, it should be clear what they are doing, and Barry should get paid.

  39. Ramstone says:

    There seems to be a conflation of two separate issues here, and that I and others grabbed the wrong end of the stick — that she’s just a crummy columnist — instead of the lede-buried she’s Koch funded. It seems so patently obvious that MM wasn’t worth reading from nearly the beginning. And if she needs to be drummed out of the corps than so do dozens of others who are not worth reading either. But don’t hold your breath. I dare say the journalism field isn’t unlike many others (i.e. comedy, fund management, etc): Out of 10, 1-2 are great, 6 are meh, and 2 blow chunks.

  40. Oral Hazard says:


    That’s just ignorant. TBP has one of the best comment sections around. You will read comments from a cross-section of viewpoints. You just have to back up views with data and some semblance of sincere logic. Barry has bluntly said that he sees commenters as somewhat fungible over time and that “churn” can be a net positive.

    So the paradox is that Barry cares deeply about the quality of discourse in the comments but doesn’t necessarily give a shit about you or me as individuals. We are, after all, anonymous.

  41. CharlesII says:

    BennyProfane argues, “Private Property? Really? c’mon. You start up a blog that the entire world can see, and claim some sort of private ownership to it, even after you invite anybody in that world to comment?”

    By analogy, you build a house the entire world can see, it has a door that anyone in the world can enter, and you don’t have any rights to lock the door?

    Sorry. Your argument is not well thought-out.

    I have no idea about your behavior on Naked Capitalism, but if you ever have to administer a blog, you will find out why blog administrators can be short-tempered. We put up with everything from people who talk endlessly but say nothing all the way to death threats. Jon Stewart speaks for all blog administrators when he says, “I’m not your monkey.”

  42. CharlesII says:

    BennyProfane says, “Private Property? Really? c’mon. You start up a blog that the entire world can see, and claim some sort of private ownership to it, even after you invite anybody in that world to comment?”

    So if I build a house that the world can see, and it has a door that any human being could enter, I don’t have a right to lock the door? Sorry. Your argument is not well thought-out.

    I have no idea how you behaved on NakedCapitalism. If you ever administer a blog, you will discover that posters range all the way from well-behaved to people who talk endlessly and say nothing to people who deliver threats that may require the assistance of law enforcement. Jon Stewart speaks for all of us who administer blogs when he says, “I’m not your monkey.”

  43. hue says:

    the false equivalency of Soros and Koch. Soros only cared about the Bush presidency, even the Right wants to forget Dubya. Soros was upfront, out in the open.

    before deploying shock troops on blogs, a billionaire tried to take down a president, by planting stories in the mainstream media. The Arkansas Project. it worked in Washington but not with the masses

    David Brock “Arkansas Project was political terrorism”

    Scott Walker & David Koch

  44. ComradeAnon says:

    “BennyProfane Says: September 27th, 2012 at 10:06 am @Barry Ritholtz

    Then why even have a comment section? To pick and choose the strokes?”

    Benny, like BR says in the beginning:

    “Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.”

  45. BennyProfane says:

    I behaved pretty well. My mother raised a near gentleman. Screw her anyway. Actually, not. Like to read her most of the time, and her link section is a daily visit, but, sometimes, I feel like I’m back in some smoke filled room full of Trotskyites before the revolution, all bent over and plotting some violent activity. Remember how that one turned out?

  46. BennyProfane says:

    Anyway, at least Barry hasn’t banned me. Somebody loves me.

  47. Conan says:

    WOW!!! What a surprise…politics are dirty!! Some political hack is actually recruiting young people…those young people actually used current technology that the old guys weren’t accustomed to use to further the groups propaganda.

    Just amazing stuff!!! Even more amazing the rich are trying to use their power and money to further their goals. Is there no end to all the new things happening now days…

    More proof of the incredible a blogger writes a sensational article open to the public. The blog provides a comment section, this is the bloggers someone or a group of someones decides to take advantage of this open forum to counter attach the bloggers argument! Who said that comments are logical or fact based, just look at Barry’s disclaimer to cmments:

    “Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.”

    Looks like these hacks did all the above and then some, is this to be unexpected?

    If the sheepeople don’t unite and demand rule of law and just laws to control what is going on, then once again amazingly the rich and powerful will do what they want…Just shocking!!!!

    Lastly both sides do this, you could write a book about what George Soros has done with his money. The rich just use right or left, Republican or Democrat to get what they want. Corruption is everywhere, don’t waste your time being a partizan hack taking one side or the other. Unite against corruption from wherever it comes from.

  48. msaroff says:

    Reminds me of the classic xkcd cartoon, mission f%$#ing accomplished:

  49. Slash says:

    Reader for about a year, first-time commenter. I work in advertising, thus my comment, because it seems relevant (I guess that remains to be judged).

    Obviously, marketers have been pimping “social media” for awhile. We sell it to clients as a relatively low-cost (though not cost-free) way of reaching customers and potential customers. Clients are not stupid, they know they always have to “groom” new customers to replace the ones who leave/die. Not having a social media “presence” (and blog comments are considered part of “social media”, though the comments we’re usually thinking of are Facebook “likes” and now I guess Twitter mentions) is kind of unthinkable, given how many people access the Internet exclusively through their phone now, esp. in areas outside the U.S., and how many people use Twitter and Facebook. And this is applicable to politics as well, again, obviously (marketing and politics being bastard children of the same absentee father, I guess).

    As a professional (not a high-placed one, I’m not a decision-maker in the industry), I see that this is inevitable, even though I still have my doubts about how useful social media is in actually generating sales. I haven’t seen figures to indicate that it is, yet, except for Facebook, maybe. We do Facebook ads all the time now, but I have no idea if they’re doing any good. For now, clients seem to be buying the theory that we’re building goodwill/exposure that will pay off big in the future in the form of brand recognition and thus, increased sales.

    But as a reader of blogs/sites/whatever they’re called now, I hate having to scroll through a bunch of auto-generated crap to get to an interesting comment. Most of the sites I go to don’t appear to have too much of a problem with this, but I’m guessing it will become more of a problem as time goes on. I’m hoping that eventually, companies/entities will figure out that their spamming isn’t really doing them much good, but it’s so cheap to do (apparently), that may be a vain hope. People still fall for Nigerian banking scams, and that shit has been around since we all used fax machines regularly. Or maybe even longer than that. As long as they get one bite out of thousands sent, they consider it a win.

    It is amusing that someone referenced the First Amendment up there. I always chuckle when someone does that. Or yaps about “free speech.” I’m no longer surprised at the stunning ignorance of the general public about their “rights.” And it’s esp. amusing because people will hand over their privacy as if it’s nothing, then turn around and whine that some blogger banned or otherwise filtered a single comment. When I logged onto Gmail today, it asked me to give them my cell phone number (for “security” purposes, and they double-pinky swore they’d never sell it or use it to try to sell me shit I don’t want). As if. I have enough problems now with effing spam texts from “” Whoever the hell those assholes are.

  50. Frilton Miedman says:

    I joined this blog for the fact that Ritholtz was in the minority of big money interests who was willing to take on personal risk to speak the truth in a day and age when Fox and CNBC were either omitting facts or blatantly lying to achieve an agenda, and the majority of financial blogs were doing the same.

    With big money having a vested interest in keeping the public misinformed, Barry stands out.

    As an investor/trader myself, integrity is priceless, when Barry speaks, I really listen to the merit of his argument.

    When CNBC or Fox speaks, I read between the lines, if I listen at all.

  51. raholco says:

    @BennyProfane: It’s called a collection copyright, and it existed long before blogs, AOL, Compuserve, and Usenet News. Also, if you were just a little more observant, waaay down the bottom of the page there be a copyright notice. Movies and TV are publicly performed but they are copyrighted.

    Next time, please let us know what industry you work in so we can avoid types like you in any future business dealings.

  52. BennyProfane says:

    Well, I guess I’m not getting an Xmas card from the Big Picture folks this season.

  53. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    One of the best things about the whole McMegan McArdle dustup was that as I read so many troll comments, it really hit me: crony capitalism can’t function without its toadies, and it has really thin skin because it lacks any fundamental integrity.

    If we didn’t live in a Bailout Nation, I suspect we’d have fewer trolls.

    I kind of take the trolls as a symptom of the corrupt, churlish nature of some of the economic problems we have — the ongoing butt-covering and refusal to deal with reality, strikes me as consistent with the kind of toadying that I associate with trolls. God forbid any of these people ever try to start or run a legitimate business.

  54. Odikhmantievich says:

    Hey Conan, you hear that getting closer and closer? CHOO CHOO MOTHERFUCKER, IT’S THE GODDAMNED BAN HAMMER 5000

  55. zola says:

    BennyProfane said “Private Property? Really? c’mon. You start up a blog that the entire world can see, and claim some sort of private ownership to it, even after you invite anybody in that world to comment?”

    Let me take a crack at explaining this.

    This blog is a web site, for starters. Barry pays for it. He buys the space on the web server, and he pays for the right to use for his content. Leaving aside any rules the provider of this space might have regarding content, the site belongs to him and it is solely his decision as to what content he provides.

    If he wants his entire web site to consist of one page that is a shrine to Chewbacca, then that is his privilege because it’s HIS site that he paid for. You or I can’t wander on over and decide we’re going to substitute a picture of Captain Kirk because the site doesn’t belong to us.

    Now, as it happens, he has a blog, and he allows comments. First of all, you’re incorrect in stating that anybody can comment (you said “even after you invite anybody in that world to comment?”) because that’s not true. You have to be a registered user to comment, meaning you have to give some basic information.

    But more importantly, when you make a comment, it becomes part of Barry’s content, and as we just established, BARRY is the one who decides what content appears on the site. You’ve exercised your free speech by making a comment, nobody stopped you. But now that you have made the comment, it is content, and it’s up to the owner if they will allow that content or not.

    Some posters have compared the blog to a house, but I think a better parallel would be a letter. Let’s say you send me a letter. You have 100% rights to free speech–you can send me an ad, you can make a proposal, you can say whatever you want in that letter.

    However, once the letter is delivered, it belongs to ME and it is mine to dispose of as I please. I can throw it out without opening it. I can read it and re-read it and keep it close to my heart. I can pass it on to the cops or the mental health authorities. You sent it to me, so now it belongs to me.

    So free speech does not apply to a blog. As other commenters have pointed out, you are free to start your own blog and say what you wish, because that’s YOUR content and the same rules apply.

    I hope that clears things up a little.

  56. Francois says:

    “I barely know who Ms. McCardle is” but “The brutality of the criticisms was so over the top”

    Am I the only one to find this tripe extraordinarily insulting to the intelligence of TBP readers?

  57. gms777 says:


    Tripe is cow stomach and served steaming hot, possibly with onions. Classy, it ain’t, but it is nutritious.

    I stumbled on the Hannity show last night. It made me feel physically ill watching it.

    Zealous political partisans err by thinking that sledgehammering opponents wins them new friends .

  58. gremlin says:

    I wasn’t sent, I’m not part of a group, I just looked at the first few points and clicked the links and saw that there is no there, there. I don’t believe most of the people on this blog went through all the links, because if they had they’d see that there is no direct accusation of anything, just innuendo backed up by nothing.

    My point that you could do the same analysis on anyone was born out quickly by the coblogger here writing a post slanted so pro obama as to be laughable. what shady group is paying for him?

    When I tried a 2nd comment after going through all the links in that insipid article, it was blocked.

    As to how long I’ve been reading here, years. This can be seen because my personal blog has a hyperlink to this blog and has for 4 years, a situation I will remedy as soon as I can find the control panel on blogspot.

  59. Unsympathetic says:

    BennyProfane is simply objectively wrong. As is 100% of everything that spews from the face-holes of the Koch twins.

    The next useful thing McArdle says will be the first. At least she spelled “asymmetric” correctly in her twitter handle.. too bad she uses it for stupidity. Not good or evil, really, just a waste of everyone’s time.

    Just to clear everything out:
    1) Everyone knows McArdle sucks, this was already agreed upon long ago within the internets.
    2) No Democrat sucks as bad as her.. she’s gone from suck to blow. You’re welcome to disagree by linking to a person, or else you’ve got nothing.
    3) I’m a registered Republican who recognizes the neoliberal agenda in both parties.

    Regardless, McArdle still sucks. And seriously, everyone, go drink some scotch instead of bothering to defend that horrifyingly unscientific twaintwaffle of a commentator.

  60. JJ Butler says:

    Megan McArdle may be a ‘Koch-trained’ troll, but the reference to the ‘flagship libertarian think-tank’ is equally intellectually dishonest. Actual libertarians despise corperatisim and fascism.


    BR: Thats been whats so weird about this cycle — the Libertarians have been anti-government, but without their usual anti-corporate zeal. Strange.