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Another Warning About Comments

Summary:
With considerable reluctance, we closed comments for over a week earlier this month as a result of too many readers refusing to adhere to our written site Policies. When we restored them, we explained: In the past, despite having had to impose more moderation tripwires, the site admins have generally been able to operate in a minimal-intervention mode, with moderators approving most comments and deleting posted comments rarely and with great reluctance. However, due to an rise in sheepdog-style, talking point-driven commentary and other forms of thread-jacking, we are going to be in zero tolerance mode until readers understand that this site is not the place for mere personal opinion. That includes cheerleading (“+1000”). If you have nothing of substance to add to a comment you like,

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

Comments Policy

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

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

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

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

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

Our Goal is to Promote Critical Thinking

When in doubt, consider this quote as a guideline:

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

-Harlan Ellison

Typical violations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filtering and Moderation

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

Spam

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

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

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

Moderation

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

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

“Why hasn’t my comment appeared?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Banning

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

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

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

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

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

Expunging Comments

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

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

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

Sanity Clause

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

Commenting on Naked Capitalism is deemed acceptance of these policies.

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