Posts filed under “Weblogs”

Why I Am Considering Getting Rid of Comments . . .

Since I began this humble blog almost 11 years, 25,000 posts and 110 million page views ago, it has managed (despite my best efforts) to accumulate half a million comments.

This was never my intention.

I created this blog, in the words of Daniel Boorstin, to figure out what I think. It is where I gather my favorite charts, quotes, links and assorted ideas. The blog is simply a diary of random thoughts of a person working in finance. Think of it as the musings of an intelligent investor who, despite studying his subject for decades, still puzzles over many aspects of it.

Overall, the goal with this blog has been an attempt to discern the objective “Truth” (whatever that means) in an industry that does its best to hide that truth from public view. When I do uncover a small measure of truth, I enjoy sharing the discovery here.

I frequently solicit the input of readers. These are the open threads and reading linkfests and general discussions where input is specifically invited “Hey, what do you think? What you are reading, doing, listening to?” The rest of the time, the site is mostly me trying to work through ideas, concepts, quandries and issues. That this is done in a public place is almost beside the point.

Some of you occasionally send me a pleasant email or say nice things to me privately. Quite a few of you impress the hell out of me. Most of you are kind, decent folk. This missive is NOT directed at you.

Managing blog comments has become an increasingly time consuming job. Policing the spammers, trolls, haters, and other purveyors of falsehoods has become a larger time suck than I am willing to accept. Dealing with such cretins hardens your outlook and shortens your temper more than I care for. Perhaps this is the reason so many high profile blogs have closed down their comments altogether.

Were I to shut down my comments, it would be for a reason I have not seen enumerated elsewhere: The intellectually disingenuous rhetorical sleight of hand that has become a substitute for legitimate debate. (See this and this). I simply do not have the time nor the interest in correcting every half-truth and lie. But I have even less interest in polluting the blog with this sort of nonsense.

Therein lay my quandry. A harsh solution beckons.

500,000 people per month swing by these parts. You are, for the most part, professional folks with careers and families and other interests. You have proven yourselves to be overwhelmingly intelligent and polite and lovely people. The vast majority of you are also way too busy to comment on posts. Analytical data shows the overwhelming majority of blog readers do not post comments.

To put this into some context: The blog has garnered ~half a million comments over nearly 11 years. That is also the number of monthly unique visitors. Do the math, and you realize the individual visitor-to-comment ratio is > than 132 to 1.

This ratio is similar to that of large media sites. For example, The Guardian has found that less than 1% of all readers actually leave a comment. And of those comments, more than 20% come from a tiny percentage — the 0.0037% who try dominate the discussion and shout down every one else.

Therein lay the problem: A small group of trolls somehow confuse these sites for a town square. It is not. This blog is not a forum where I am obligated to give equal time to every crackpot conspiracy theorist, birther or intellectually lazy wanker out there. To be blunt, I don’t give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about these jackhole’s opinions. These folk need to rapidly disabuse themselves from believing other people’s blog’s are an open invitation for whatever ignorance or ill thought out nonsense they are peddling.

The trick, according to cognitive psychologists, is to undercut logical arguments by appealing to emotions. According to academic research, this takes advantage of the way the brain works. Emotions come to the forefront faster than “rational” thoughts. Daniel Kahnman divides the cognitive processes as either “thinking fast” (Emotions) versus “thinking slow” (Logic). Scathing, emotional, negative, knee jerk comments can actually nullify intelligent, coherent, logical, sourced, data driven arguments through this technique.

Therefore, consider this a warning not to waste your time: I do not care about the output of your cognitive biases, I am disinterested in the myths you cherish, I care little for the mass media rumors that influence you, or the heuristics you believe in. I especially detest the unsupported, commonly believed narratives that you constantly use in the artificial construct you erroneously call reality.

Thus, I have reached the conclusion that I will no longer tolerate this. To this small group of trolls and asshats, the the 0.0037%: EFFECTIVELY IMMEDIATELY, YOUR COMMENTS WILL NO LONGER BE PUBLISHED HERE.

Phrased differently, if I take the time and the energy to construct a coherent, sourced, logical argument that follows the rules of the art of discourse, I no longer feel obligated to post the comments of those who refuse to follow the same said rules.

The rest of the readership will not notice any changes. Indeed, the vast majority of the people who do comment should not notice a change either. (Their comments will still be approved)

But the assclowns will. I am aware some of them will scream censorship, and to you folks, I state: GYOFB. Nothing is preventing you from blogging on your own. I mean nothing other than your own laziness, lack of original thought and poor work ethic. Start your own blog, tediously build it into something filled with whatever sort of BenSteinery you care to vomit onto the page . . . Just do not expect to see it published here.

While you are free to start your own blog where you may express your unrecognized genius fully, you have precisely zero right to comment here. Going forward, your comments will be deleted with extreme prejudice. (To repeat myself, GYOFB).

I will clarify a point in advance of the knee jerk response: I am not looking for sycophants. I am happy to be disagreed with. I love when intelligent, thoughtful people post reasoned, researched, sourced responses. I WANT TO LEARN THINGS THAT ADVANCE ME TOWARDS ENLIGHTENMENT. But that is not what I am referring to today.

There are far too many comments not aligned with the goal of pursuing the truth. The focus is upon momentarily winning the emotional response through intellectually dishonest means. I have zero interest in half truths, devious rhetorical devices, technically true but highly misleading statements, etc. I assure you that, despite what your mommy told you, the world is none-the-poorer for not hearing your views.

To those of you I have emailed with and met and conversed and broke bread with, please do not stop. I am continually impressed with the quality and depth of what you have taught me. Most of you are intelligent, well educated, thoughtful people. You understand ideas, the value of data; you appreciate empirical evidence; you understand the rules of Oxford debate; you are open minded and thoughtful, positive souls. I revel in speaking with and meeting you. I appreciate your opinions. I love your attitudes. You make the world a better place.

To paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, life is short. I share his desire it need not be solitary, nasty and brutish. This manifests itself in my lack of patience for the negative, spiteful, annoying, dishonest, unproductive asshattery that is all too common online.

In order to encourage more of the desired, proper, intelligent and worthwhile sorts of comments by the people I like, respect and appreciate, as well as to discourage as many of the false, nasty and brutish other, I have developed a few rules about what is suitable for comments.

You can read the official comments policy of TBP here.

 

 

 

Sources:
The Science of Why Comment Trolls Suck (MoJo)

Trolls win: Rude blog comments dim the allure of science online (Eureka Alert)

Research Shows Commenters Make Up Less than 1% of Total Audience (Examiner)

How to Deal With Crappy People (Altucher)

Clive Thompson on the Taming of Comment Trolls (Wired)

The Guardian publishes stats on the size of their commenting community (Curry Bet)

The Guardian Reveals an Important Truth About Article Comments (Scholarly Kitchen)

Category: Web/Tech, Weblogs

Mainstream Leaders: Blogs Are Valuable News Sources

The President of the United States, Head of the Federal Reserve and Others Say Blogs Are Good Sources of News President Obama said: Blogs are best at debunking myths that can slip through a lot of the traditional media outlets. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke noted (according to Matt O’Brien, business and economics editor at…Read More

Category: Weblogs

Blog Redesign: Update

I mentioned at the end of the Summer that I was beginning a site redesign. The refresh is nearly complete — the interior design is mostly done (see PDF below the jump). This is the part of the design that holds the written content and graphs.

It is much cleaner, easier to read and navigate. The first post will be fully expanded, but the next 9 subsequent posts will be headline and a sentence or so. This will load MUCH faster than 10 posts with all of their graphics, charts, text, etc, having to load also. Its about a 4X speed bump. All of the current functionality — email post, print, search, RSS, etc –  will also continue. (I have been getting so many RSS Scrapers I may shift back to partial RSS feed from full post to thwart the splogs).

~~~

The header and side background are still works in progress — we started with the Jim Flora art work Money Flow as the inspiration for the design (I secured the digital rights and have the original). Then we updated it into something more modern while still retaining a little retro flavor. (So far, the TBP logo is still the same).

As mentioned, we are doing away with the 4 Tab design (its old and boring). In its place, we are using Icons to replace/identify the 4 subjects previously in Tabs: Think Tank, Video, BookShelf and Weekend. Click on anyone of these and you still get the full feed of that tab subject.

Overall, the layout is much cleaner and lighter.

 

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Category: Weblogs

TBP Mobile Edition Now Live (Beta Version)

Ask, and Ye Shall Receive:

The single biggest request I get about the site has been for an improved mobile version of TBP. Previously, I was using a simple Word Press plugin for mobile, and it was pretty weak.

It took some time and work, but the new and vastly improved version of the Mobile site is now live — and its pretty fantastic. Mad props to the team at Onswipe, they did an awesome job.

This version went live over the weekend — we are still in beta testing, so expect bugs and glitches to keep popping up in this version. (If you find any, please use the comments to tell me, and I will forward to the developers).

If you go to Ritholtz.com on any mobile device, you should see it (but some devices and settings don’t). If you want to see what it looks like, point any mobile browser to:

http://t.ritholtz.com/bigpicture/

I’ll post the graphics after the jump.

Its mostly self explanatory, but let me mention a few hidden items:

• Both phones & tablets work similarly — they each have portrait and landscape orientations, but on phones the swipe is up and down in portrait mode.

• On tablets, the menu is laid out across the top; on phones, the pull down menu is top right;

• To find the button for the desktop version, grab the slide, swipe it to the right, and there is that button;

• Bug Alert: Once you go desktop, I don’t know how to revert back to the mobile version. The workaround is to use the mobile address.

I’m pretty jazzed at the way it came out– looking forward to your comments . . .

 

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Category: Technology, Weblogs

Update: Redesign, Adverts

Over the past few months, I mentioned a few times that I was overdue to replace this aging  four year old layout. I wanted something faster, cleaner, and more modern. I really like the way the new design is coming together. The main body part is a neat solution to the issue of the old…Read More

Category: Weblogs

Blog Redesign Update

I mentioned last month that I was getting ready to do a major update to the site. I’m now working through the second iteration of the design concept. So far, we’ve gotten rid of the Tabs and most of the clutter. The color scheme and design language are still being worked through. Some of the…Read More

Category: Weblogs

The Ridiculous Comment

Lately, there’s been an uptick in a specific type of foolishness, and I wanted to address it: The ridiculous comment. You don’t see too many of them around these parts, because I simply don’t allow them. I really don’t care what your views are about global warming or the CRA or what really happened on 9/11. If you…Read More

Category: Weblogs

Blog Redesign: Ideas Wanted

Its hard to imagine, but its been nearly 4 years since the present design of this blog was created and the switch over to WordPress occurred (October 2008). I am getting itchy for a new look (its time to move past this Web 1.0 tab based layout). I have a few ideas with this redesign:…Read More

Category: Weblogs

Yeah! Site is Back Up

Seems that the site was spotty most of the afternoon — a snippet of code from Halogen Networks was hanging everything up. The updating of Tabs content seems to be fixed now as well. (Right hand column seems to be taking forever to load though). I need a better web structure that is more stable…Read More

Category: Weblogs

100,000,000 Visits

Holy shnikes! Invictus texted me this morning to tell me the site is about to eclipse 100,000,000 visits! If you got to Sitemeter, you will note that its set at 99,065,084 visits, plus 939,781 visitors from before joining Site Meter on November 9, 2004, along with 126,288,501 page views. That is insane . . ….Read More

Category: Web/Tech, Weblogs