Idealogues and the Issue of Open versus Closed Blogs

A observation rant:  Why are certain blogs closed, i.e., no comments allowed?   

These blogs are often riddled with simple mistakes, logical errors, and outright misinformation.

I cannot begin to count how many times the commenters on this site have picked up an error of mine, corrected a misunderstanding I had, or identified an excellent resource or link I overlooked. You have my gratitude for the feedback you provide; your input is often excellent and make this a better site.

Quite bluntly, its the closed sites’ loss not allowing comments.

That’s before we get to the disconcerting tendency of the closed sites towards spouting ideological theories — reality be damned. Sure, plenty of open sites have become ideological stomping grounds — but obvious errors can at least get corrected. 

I am (as are most open sites) much more interested in dialogue, a process by which different ideas lead to a better understanding of reality. Sure, there may be a point of view present, but its based upon observations — not theory, or someone else’s talking points.

That’s the result of dealing in the reality-based  world — marked-to-market every day, week, month and quarter.

When I write about whether consumer spending is slowing down, my concern is how it will impact various Equity Sectors, Bonds, Fed rates, Inflation — and increasingly, Gold; I do not care how it impacts Presidential polls, or whether it changes the short list of who the next Treasury Secretary will be, or if it ‘dings’ Greenspan’s legacy. I can’t simply make up stuff (like some do) or be wrong about facts — at least not for too long — and hope my theories paper it over. 

Some sites clearly misunderstood reality, and therefore are all but worthless to me; their only value is to help me form my variant perceptions. Some are worse than wrong, they actively push misinformation as part of their agendas (nefarious or otherwise).

My response has been to lose the bookmark (buh-bye) and be done with any clown who spouts misinformation. My head trader is far less subtle than I — "F$%# ’em, we got too much skin in the game" — he snarls.

Perhaps that’s the nature of theoreticians and idealogues — they can push academic ideas, but they get measured by how many articles (relevant or not) they publish. It doesn’t matter which school of thought is getting pushed — Hayek, Moneterism (Milton Friedman), Supply-side, Scientology, etc.

We manage money for a living — so there’s little use for gibberish that doesn’t help — and in some cases, actively hurts — returns.

Again, I return to my gruff but lovable head trader "Put ’em on a trading desk, and let them theorize themselves into the poor house."

Rant over.

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  1. Dave L commented on Sep 15

    I’ll take your observation one step further, and say that the comments are invaluable for your readers, too.

    My favorite Economics blogs – we can’t all be traders! – are the ones with the most active participation from informed commenters. That’s where half the value of a good weblog is found. Every Torah needs a Talmud…

  2. D. commented on Sep 15

    It’s a good thing you haven’t been googling mothering blogs because they’ve mastered that art. Unless you love a good cat fight…
    They disseminate a lot of old wive’s tales and when you point it out they chew you up, spit you out and tell you to stay away under the pretext that it’s their own private board.

  3. Francis Hwang commented on Sep 15

    A number of bloggers I know put up comments and/or trackbacks, and then took them down later because their blog became overran with spammers, and they had better things to do than fight with bots advertising Viagra and online Texas hold ’em. It’s not just about ivory tower syndrome.

  4. rob commented on Sep 15

    couldn’t agree more. the internet is about community and no matter if the opinion brings consensus or dissent people benefit, grow and learn from the discussion. love your site. great stuff.

  5. Jonathan commented on Sep 15


    Have you considered running for office? Seriously, it may be a big hit to your w-2 but we need a few folks like you up there…

  6. guambat stew commented on Sep 15

    Blogs serve many purposes and for some disallowing comment is part of their purpose. But I won’t “favour” any into my blog folder. There are plenty others. Like tv, we can just turn the channel. And thank you for being a true blogger; not only do you allow/encourage comment, you spread comment around. You’re top of my favourites and my links. Jeeze that’s sloppy suckup. But true.

  7. JWC commented on Sep 15

    I don’t read blogs without comments anymore. Though I have to admit some of the blogs I read have “resident trolls” who can be very irritating, I have learned to skip over them.

    I love your blog. Not sure how I got here since I’m primarily a political junkie of progressive leanings, but I’m am trying to educate myself on things economic and you are my first non-political stop of the day.

    I really appreciate the fact that you are not political… and tell it like you see it.

  8. hans Suter commented on Sep 15

    I think you’re right.

    But there are exceptions: Juan Cole’s “Informed Comment” comes to mind.

    Maybe a professor’s blog might or is expected to be somehow peer reviewed.

  9. donna commented on Sep 15

    Most blogs I read have comments, some do not. A lot depends on who the blogger is – yes, Juan Cole is an excellent example.

    Frances, I used to deal with comment spam on my blog, switched to wordpress and now it is no problem at all. If anyone has problems with spam, WordPress is *awesome*.

    I think people who don’t take comments may simply be too busy to deal with commentors, may be too close-minded, or may not be open to potential commentor abuse. I think those who allow comments and then ban people for disagreeing with them are the worst, since they pretend to be open-minded but really aren’t.

    Rant all you like – your perspectives here are valuable to me as I try to see where we are heading in this crazed economy, and I enjoy your writing. I would read your posts with or without comments – but I do enjoy the comments as well, so thanks for allowing them. I’ve been very impressed with the economic blogging community as a whole.

  10. The Unknown Professor commented on Sep 15

    I’d agree with most of what you (and your commenters) have said. I think not wanting to deal with criticism is a big reason for closed blogs. Spam is another, and the “moonbat-troll” factor is another.

    However, the spam/troll issue isn’t too bad unless you have an extremely active commenter crowd. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to quickly scan your comments and throw the garbage out.

    Of course, if I was glenn reynolds, I might think otherwise, but I don’t have that problem.

    As a finance prof, I appreciate the rigor and effort you put into your blog. I don’t always agree with wht you said, but you’re always worth a read.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. wcw commented on Sep 15

    I think I like your trader’s comments best. I don’t mind disagreeing with people, but I cannot stand the ones who fix their version of reality around opinions rather than fact. I often wish I could sentence that type to trade their own money based solely on the hokum they’re shovelling.

    Naturally, I would want right of first refusal to be on the other side of those trades.


  12. Rob commented on Sep 16

    Why are some blogs closed? Because they are afraid. Remember that time you called me out for praising Kodak’s strategy change? People don’t want to go through that. It can make them look stupid. And some people have fragile egos…

  13. Aaron commented on Sep 16

    Barry: Well-written post. Keep up the good work…

  14. Elisa Camahort commented on Sep 17

    I have closed comments on one of my blogs only, the only blog that is on Movable Type. It was so riddled with comment spam, despite using blacklist, that I was spending more time deleting the spam than writing. It’s not like this is even a way-high trafficked site. I volunteer my time blogging for that site and didn’t think it was the best use of my time.

    I only rarely got comments, so i didn’t feel bad about it. I posted a link in the sidebar about “How to Comment” and provide my email address. I do open up posts and add people’s comments when they send them to me.

    And before anyone asks why I don’t switch to whatever magic tool has no issues with spam (I personally never get comment spam on my iBlog-based personal blog) it’s not my site, I’m a guest blogger, and they’re committed to MT.

    So it’s not always fear; sometimes it’s pure exasperation. I’ll turn them on again eventually. I just needed a break from hearing about cialis and texas hold ’em.

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