Some Rules and Request for feedback

We are about to do a little late summer revamp to the site — some fixes and minor alterations (see this for the source of ideas).

As that gets underway, I have been addressing some blog and comment issues piecemeal, and decided its time to address them generally.

Any feedback — but particularly from regulars and long time readers — will be greatly appreciated:

1. Purpose: This blog has evolved into a place where we can discuss general market and economic issues. It is a counter-balance to the general mindless cheerleading of Wall Street, the spin of the Federal government, and the superficial coverage presented by much of the MSM.

2. Slant: This is not a Bear cave. However, when "the facts themselves are biased" I present them — especially when the headline spin is all most people hear. Again, if you want MSM or cheerleaders, there’s plenty of that elsewhere.

3. Contrariness as a virtue:  On a related note, you can expect lots of pushback here. When I flipped Bullish in October 2002, I got the same angry response (a good sign). If the perma Bulls weren’t so nervous, they wouldn’t troll here.

4. Trolls:  Speaking of which: As the site has gained popluarity, we have attracted some "lesser" commenters. I am becoming far less tolerant of their nonsense. While I greatrly encourage debate, I want to hear why I am wrong. I will put up with very long comments that are detailed, well reasoned, smartly argued, full of facts and links. Diss me personally in my house and you are gone w/o a warning.

4. Anonymous posts:  On a related subject, I have allowed  anonymous posts, as there are people here who work on Wall Street or in the Print or Electronic Media — for professional reasons, they need a pen name.

That was fine when we had "only" a few 1000 hits per day; The site now gets 13-15k unique visitors and 20-25k pagve views per day. Anonymous postings have become problematic, and I am thinking of requiring a real address (even if its a yahoo or google email). 

Your thoughts on this?

These last four are my general requests to readers:

5. Category:  Every sub-topic has a category link at right; If you have a question on Inflation or Sentiment or Technical Analysis or whatever on any related subject, please use that as a research tool. Its lazy to ask in a  comment, when you can just look it up.   

6. Search:  Ditto: There is also a search function at right; It is very robust and limits search just to this site;  Please use it before giving me homework assignments;

7. Politics:  Studies have shown that people percieve poltical information far differently than other sorts of input. There is little  rationality and less flexibility than regarding other topics. Based on that, I would greatly prefer that the political discussions stay focused on the impact of politics on the Markets and Economy.

For the future, lets all agree: Hillary is unelectable, W ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, Bill Clinton was a cad, and Rumsfield is incompetant. I’d prefer those who wish to debate the fine points of these and related issues to take them to Atrios and Instapundit or Daily Kos and Little Green Footballs.

8. Investment advice: We do not present investment advice here; Thats what the "lawyer approved" premium site is for. However, if you are a savvy self-directed trader, you can often find
items here that help make or save you money. I don’t have a "tip jar"
here, but it is considered good nettiquette to send a token off of the
wish list IF YOU MADE MONEY. Its doesn’t need to be a $15,000 watch; A
$10 CD is fineits the thought that counts.

If you are here just for the debate and information and intellectual stimulation, then any token, while appreciated, is not necessary.


I greatly appreciate the feedback from the very intelligent and insightful readers of this blog; There are quite a few interesting improvements on the way — many based on your suggestions.

Please keep the ideas and suggestions coming . . .

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. LN commented on Aug 19

    I love your site . I don’t always agree with some of the points addressed and try to ” agree to disagree ” . I believe that this site needs open , constructive debate but I need to stay anonymous . I’ve worked at 3 investment banks and 2 hedge funds and can’t use a “real” name . I will still read your site nevertheless and wish you the best in your endeavor regardless of your changes

  2. dforester commented on Aug 19

    Require e-mail if you need to. It’s easy enough for anyone that needs to “cloak” to get an alternate real e-mail account; alternatively, you could simply not show the e-mail addresses to the public at-large.

    My only other unlisted (I think) request is for a more threaded commentary, a la Slashdot. I LOVE following the commentary (rarely participate; just learning, here), but find it somewhat difficult un-threaded, as the commentary on a given post may wander into several sub-topics (or just flat unrelated topics), but in the linear comment structure, becomes difficult to traverse.

  3. kckid816 commented on Aug 19

    you should set up some type of registration. No need for real names. Just something that would make people have dedicated screen names which would prevent posting as someone else. I don’t know much about IT, but shouldn’t that also make it easier to ban people too?

    Everything else is great. I love coming here to read the various interpretations of what might happen. I don’t have the money to invest currently, but the viewpoints here allow me to put hypotheticals to work.

  4. Zack commented on Aug 19

    I think that the recent rudeness is probably a good contrary indicator. To me it says that the meat of this rally is done. The weak shorts/underinvested have capitulated. Maybe allowing those clowns to continue to post could help us make more money. I know that when Helene Meisler and Herb Greenberg get rude emails it is usually a great opportunity.

  5. Fred commented on Aug 19


    Put on your chain mail sweater and play whack a troll.

  6. Larry Nusbaum, Scottsdale commented on Aug 19

    bill: GUESS WHAT? The land price was too high. And, builders have been sitting on land that they banked ages ago for pennies on the dollar. The state asked too much, just like homeowners who don’t know the current state of the housing market.

  7. Alaskan Pete commented on Aug 19

    RE: Anonymous posts: I use a psuedonymn and have always signed in with a fake e-mail. Registration is not a problem because I have yahoo and hotmail accounts set up specifically for registration purposes. (If any of you have tried to e-mail me, obviously the is not a valid addy). I don’t use these tactics to troll or spoof other people’s names, I just don’t need my identity circulating, nor any more spam (there are bots that can basically “read” the mouse-over e-mail function that appears with the poster’s name below each post).

    RE: Politics. Agreed. Except “Instayokel” doesn’t allow comments so you’d be hard pressed to take your argument there. Besides, who wants to argue with a law prof from a third tier school anyway?

    15k unique users per day. Impressive. Congratulations.

  8. muckdog commented on Aug 19

    Barry, will you be asking France to lead a UN force to help ensure the comment log isn’t overrun by trolls? (Sorry, couldn’t resist a one-liner).

    I think it’s a good idea to keep it on the up-and-up here. Your columns are thought provoking and I enjoy following the sensible back and forth in the logs.

  9. BKE commented on Aug 19

    It would be nice if the commentary stuck to the markets a bit more. The content is becoming diluted, as the evolution / creation debate that exploded on one thread exemplifies. However, maybe there’s nothing that can be done to prevent the blog from losing its edge as it continues to grow.

  10. whipsaw commented on Aug 19

    Well Barry, that all sounds fine to me, but I would observe that since you define the thread topics, it’s pretty much up to you to avoid bringing out the vampires unnecessarily. I can see how the recent Terror Alert! thread was related to the impact of politics on the markets, but the evolution thread didn’t seem to have any more bearing than an abortion thread would have. Things are going to heat up once you touch on something with religious overtones and I’ll stop at that since I don’t want to get it started again.

    As far as the tip jar goes, I at least try to contribute as much as I get back from your site as do a lot of other posters in my opinion. That said, the lurkers and the investing newbies should kick in now and then when they make some money or *when they don’t lose money* because of something that they read here.

    If you want some suggestions about things you might address that would prompt me to send you some CDs , how about overviews/recommendations about the Tom DeMark and Lowry indicators? Those are pro tools shrouded in mystery and you’ve got access to those guys by virtue of your status in the investing community. There’s virtually no public info about them- are they affordable for the average jerk, are they accessible without something like TradeStation, what time horizons are they suited for, etc.?

    Cover those and you will get some CDs from me, but I’ll pick them- you need to broaden your interests a bit. :)

  11. ~Nona commented on Aug 19

    One really boorish, inappropriate comment appeared here (some of you know which one it was) so a possible requirement that we register to comment makes sense. In fact, I would welcome the requirement: badly behaving guests dishonor all of us.

    I also understand LN’s vital need for anonymity. Registration can accommodate that need and may also help to curb abuse.

    Anyone who wants a free e-mail address that isn’t Yahoo, Hotmail or (soon) AOL can e-mail me at I’ll send the sign-up invitation for a free g-mail address WITHOUT keeping track of your e-mail address. (I set up the address a few minutes ago specifically for lovers of Barry’s blog who need/want a free e-mail address.)

    Neophytes trying to learn (that’s my hand that you see raised) and seasoned pros alike get a lot out of your board, Barry. Thank you for creating, funding, and hosting it.

  12. Steve Goulet commented on Aug 19

    Great site, one of my favorites on the Web, and I am a friggin’ connoisseur. You could use a slightly hipper UI, one that matches the coolness of your content — which is a tall order.

    I just upgraded to DasBlog 1.8 which has given me this new skin which I really like:

    I’m sure you will do better, that skin and all the code I used on my site are open source and free. The one concrete suggestion I can see right off the bat: Your right nav is way too long compared to the rest of your content. But I’m sure you’ve already thought of that.

  13. HT commented on Aug 19

    As I have mentioned before, would be nice to have user generted forums. Thay can be time dated/archived for space needs, but typically there are several interesting topics of the day at any given time–often Barry, you highlight one, but of course can’t hit them all.

    If you have that manu UVs, then it may produce some great discussions [ps: i’m the guy who emailed you about the Andarko deal and the nutty analyst on CNBC saying their using cash was bearish…]

    That’s what i mean, that could have been a relative and possibly valuble “forum” where people who know better in a certain area can educated others, and/or have civilized/spirited debates.

    Otherwise, great blog.


  14. algernon commented on Aug 19

    I enjoy your site & find it helpful. Don’t change a thing.

  15. JWC commented on Aug 19

    I love the site. I’m just a semi retired grandma who is learning about things economical. I do go to many political blogs and argue my thoughts – with the best of them, in the comments section. I DO NOT want to argue politics at your blog. I do appreciate your insight on how some political things affect the markets – in the macro sense. I hate it when those observations you make turn into “uproar”.

    Therefore I totally support troll managment. If that means a registration of some sort, so be it. I’ve seen too many great bloggers have the reading experience ruined by disruptive trolls. I would hate to have that happen here. There are plenty of places for them to go. When I want to argue politics I go to Kos or my other political blogs.

  16. Sherman McCoy commented on Aug 19

    Hehehe… I do not use a pseudonym… I am THE REAL MC COY!!!!

    Requiring the e-mail address is no big deal. It certainly is easy to get a free one at yahoo or google.

  17. diva commented on Aug 19

    Requiring an email address for registration is fine….. but, it would be much better if the email address was not public info for the spammers of the world.
    (and those blasted bots)
    Thanks for hosting a great blog!

  18. Cherry commented on Aug 19

    Yeah, I don’t mind giving out my @. But keep it secret.

  19. Movie Guy commented on Aug 19

    You have a good web site.

    But you have a problem with acknowledging the posting of information that you asked for.

    I am referring to the GM info I posted on another thread this week.

    And I posted this remark later:


    Did you bother to review the latest that I posted at your personal request?

    Obviously, your staff could have pulled the data together prior to your main post remarks. But, apparently that didn’t happen.

    My time is as valuable to me and my global corporate clients as is your time. That I provided information to you as a courtesy was my decision in honoring your personal request.

    The very least that I expect from you is a simple acknowledgment that you read the entire post, and now understand where Toyota, Honda, and Subaru stack up with General Motors light trucks and SUVs on fuel economy statistics from the federal government.

    So, what’s the story, Barry?

  20. Mr. Bubbles commented on Aug 19

    Ditto what Whipsaw said. More commentary on Lowry indicators, etc, would be much appreciated. We could all stand to benefit from your connections within the “underground” trading community. If not on this site, perhaps include this on your RRA site.

  21. donna commented on Aug 19

    I love your site. Ban anyone you like, especially trolls. I read the site for the market viewpoint and general economic viewpoint, since I’m trying to discern the trends in these areas, and agree with most of your insights. I’m not a market expert so I really appreciate your views.

    I’m a “long term” investor, mostly retirement stuff I can’t touch, so don’t really do a lot of trading. I do have a considerable amount of cash on hand, looking for places to invest but not really finding any right now. I’m disappointed that our economy isn’t producing any innovations or much of anything really other than services and financial transactions or real estate. I would love to see a new tech boom, but don’t expect it until we get done with stupid wars and easy money.

    This site for me is the economic and financial component of my political blog reading, since most of them don’t deal with economics or the market, which I think are the main things to watch in these times. So keep it going, and don’t change things around too much – I really enjoy it as is, except for the trolls. But they’re a problem on any site.

    And THANK YOU for all you do – it is very much appreciated!

  22. alexd commented on Aug 20

    Sheesh I sent you a cd without making money! Just like the ideas!

  23. cm commented on Aug 20

    Anonymity, at least as defined by not supplying an actual name/address, is desirable for others than just members of the financial industry. Given a choice between confidentiality and anonymity (to the extent that can be had anyway, given that Typepad will have my IP number in its server logs/comment database), I prefer the latter.

  24. injured list commented on Aug 20

    re: email address, why put a fakeone, like one at yahoo, what would be the purpose, earlier I used my real one, very very stupid, i immediately got and keep getting spam onpenny assss stocks. i imagine that others have had the same problem, other than that, great site, amazing energy of our host

  25. brion commented on Aug 20

    “It would be nice if the commentary stuck to the markets a bit more.”
    I basically agree w. you BKE (i come here for the $ talk myself and requested more of it/less gadget media talk back in the day)
    I say this despite being one of the worst “political” offenders probably, especially when some wingnut shows up spouting the b.s. neo-con playbook. (frequently, as we all know, world views; politics, religion and investment strategies feed into and reinforce each other)

    Blogs are like virtual living rooms, offices and salons. Inevitably, as people begin to know each other, formality often melts away.

    As Kojak would say, “What ya gonna do baby”?

  26. Mystery Lady commented on Aug 20

    I’ve been involved in some excellent off-the-site correspondences with several people who post comments on this blog.

    They were possible because both sides used real e-mail addresses. One of us sent a private off-the-site e-mail to the other…and an exchange began.

    Except for this comment, I always post my real address and, for the record, I’ve received almost no spam. (Maybe my filters are better than others’.)

    I mention this because those of you who use fake addresses may be depriving yourselves of the possible pleasure of some off-the-blog exchanges that you would enjoy, even relish.

  27. cm commented on Aug 20

    Mystery Lady: I agree, but the world is full of tradeoffs, unfortunately.

  28. Dr. Dan commented on Aug 20


    You agree that readers are savvy and cool. Why not allow them to participate in the link fest ?

    In the comments, they can post links that they have and they think is cool. Isnt it ?

  29. student_of_the_trade commented on Aug 20

    My humble request would be that comments get indexed for the purpose of search queries, and that the user selects whether search results should include content only from original posts, or comments as well.

    As for topics covered, many sites experience short term growth by expanding their content focus. In the long run, however, most of those same sites dilute their brand and instead of becoming “all things to all people”, they just become “me too’s” and “also ran’s”. It’s sorta’ like daytrading versus investing, eh? Keep your focus on the markets, and I will be among your most loyal “buy and hold” eyeballs.

    That said, please keep the personal anecdotes, humor, and perspective on your “Essays and Effluvia” page coming. This way we can learn why we like you as a person, while still preserving the Chinese Wall that allows us to love/hate you as a market prognosticator.

    No dissing here, and mad love and props to the host. Woot!

  30. Eclectic commented on Aug 20

    Per your request for feedback (by the numbers):

    1. Purpose:
    ….I come here because I have a sense that you are willing to sort through the herd of common sentiment looking for truth, whether it supports your opinion or not. I suspect you’ll be appropriately bullish or bearish, according to the conditions.

    2. and 3. Slant/Contrariness:
    …. Cynicism is good when it’s healthy; it’s only bad when it’s for its own sake.

    4. Trolls:
    …. The Master speaks to young Grasshopper (showing him his closed hand): “I have a bird in my hand, Grasshopper. Is it alive or dead?”

    Grasshopper: “Is it as you wish, Master.”

    4. Anonymous posts:
    …. It’s simply a condition of my participation. However, if it turns into a Yahoo message board, it will be just as useless as that has become.

    5. and 6. Category/Search:
    …. Roger.

    7. Politics:
    …. This will ruin your site.

    8. Investment advice:
    …. Should be clear to reasonable people that they should not use the site exclusively to derive investment advice. Unfortunately, when you drop clues or outright indications of your own executions, there are people who will follow them, and among them a class of people who will always blame you for the advice if they do the same and it doesn’t work out.

    I suppose your only personal concern might arise if and when your following became large enough that any hints of your own executions could be considered as front running trades. I’m personally convinced it isn’t your intention to do that. You’re just a great big fun party guy and want to be helpful. The more popular you become, the more careful you must be in this regard, both for yourself directly… and for yourself in regards to any anonymous posters.

    And, that’s probably the best legal advice you can get from a layman, and you don’t even have to put anything in my jar.

    p.s., Great site so far. Don’t let it get screwed up.


  31. Leisa commented on Aug 20

    Contrariness as a virtue: Contrariness without some substance is nothing more than curmudgeonliness (an conjures up images of smelly old men on a persistent rant on everything that displeases them).

    Rather, crafting a contrarian view that exposes the flaws of the most recent group think (and accordingly exposes opportunities presented through a different perspective) is virtuous and, accordingly, laudable. Laud: I think that is what you do well and what your readers (at least this one) expect and differentiates you from the smelly old men category.

    Regarding anononymity–The registration through other sites (such as get’s around that…you have to log in but you can shield your identity. I agree with Mystery Lady that sidebar e-mails can enrich the experience.

  32. paul commented on Aug 20

    Posts are excellent – site is excellent.

    Contrarian – which may not be too soon –

    Discussions of Tradermike on T2108

    A current discussion from Aug. 17th post
    ( a friend of tradermike)

    The Most recent post by Mauldin on the classic “W”

    I guess it’s not “if” it’s when.

    Thanks again, Barry – you are always refreshing


  33. lola commented on Aug 20

    Can we still talk about your ties?

  34. advsys commented on Aug 20

    I come here because of no. 1.
    If I sense that this blog is shifting towards being a cheerleading site I will disappear.

    It is kind of dissapointing that half of todays comments relate to the annonymity question. I would appreciate it if folks just stuck to market talk.

    I am willing to listen to people who dissagree with anything said here. I won’t pay attention if it is in the form of a rant.

    Thanks for creating this site and all the effort that you put into keeping it what it is.


  35. j d ess commented on Aug 20

    hey barry,

    not sure if typepad allows it, but appointing some of the regulars here moderator status would definitely keep the comments focused within your guidelines. obviously most of us here trust your judgment on blocking ip’s, deleting comments, etc. but i think we’d rather you spend your time on posts and commentary (i’m a subscriber) than playing the role of hall monitor or babysitter.

    as for registering users, i didn’t bother commenting on another blog because of the extra hassle…

  36. Bob A commented on Aug 20

    If anyone has a filter expression for Eudora or otherwise that will keep out the penny stock spams please let me know…

  37. Glenn Hauman commented on Aug 20

    One big request: Change your RSS feeds so that they post the full article, not a snippet. It makes it much more difficult to follow your threads or to look up information in my archives.

  38. Barry Ritholtz commented on Aug 20

    I may end up doing the full RSS, but with adverts —

    If you come to the site, I get the thrill of the hit, plus the traffic count.

    There are some minor copyright issues, but I think we can work around that —

  39. Jim Bergsten commented on Aug 20

    “My” way of “giving back” was to sign up (annually) for Barry’s subscription service.

    WRT other areas for “improvement,” these relate to typepad, not Barry’s blog in particular (spelling checker…).

  40. cm commented on Aug 20

    advsys: People talk about what is of concern to them. When somebody doesn’t comment on the site’s content, perhaps they find it just fine, or consider themselves not in a position to make substantive suggestions.

    If supplying a nondescript (and I presume legit) actual email address is good enough for you as it comes to cloaking your identity, that’s fine. Me, I would rather not depend on Yahoo not leaking my email account information a few years down the line. You have a right to free speech, but for example no right to a particular job, or favorable terms in particular business transactions, if you get my drift.

  41. wcw commented on Aug 20

    The simplest way to filter spam for a real address of which I know: forward it to a gmail address. The let-google-do-it approach is very, very easy. Otherwise there are lots of spam filters (spamassassin is one I’ve used with success).

    As for comments here, I wouldn’t change too much. With the traffic you get now, you want slightly shorter, higher-quality threads. A minor change like requiring registration would help. Eliminating captchas is a personal gripe, for which you’d need spamfiltering in comments, too.

    On the rest, what can I say: if it ain’t broke etc etc. You’ve done good work and are seeing deserved success. Congrats.

  42. Jim Bergsten commented on Aug 20

    Regarding “dissing one in one’s home” (or some such)…

    I believe that it is appropriate to comment on the content of an article (including questioning and researching its background/supporting material), and the motives for writing/posting it in the first place (expecially for “reprints”).

    Would this be considered “dissing”? I hope not.

  43. paul commented on Aug 20

    While readers appreciate your request for feedback, part of the answer here is understanding why you blog. You’re obviously busy (overachiever?) and it’s amazing the amount of time you spend on the blog.

    So, is it just fun? Do you get something from the comments professionally? Do you just have a belief that blogs should be interactive? Are you trying to create a community here? These questions are different from defining the spirit (critical analysis, contrarian, etc).

    Without knowing the above, I can venture a few suggestions
    -Have a page with a comments policy. This would include a statement about what the blog is about, and some guidelines. Not a perfect solution, but a few “post deleted as inappropriate per comments policy” with a link woul dget people’s attention and shape behavior.

    -Be more specific at the end of the post about questions for comments. In the post about car sales as an indicator of recession, a few people started to discuss buying used v new cars because of depreciation. Do you want posts like that, or is the idea really to talk about retail sales as a leading/lagging indicator of recession. You may define too narrowly, but I think sharp readers, imbued with your independent and contrary spirit, will fill in a few additional topics. But the starting direction may be useful in deterring people who don’t know what the site is about.

    I’ve been reading for 18 months now and love the site. Congrads on the growing pains.

  44. albiegf13 commented on Aug 20

    I enjoy and look forward to reading the content and commentary on this site on a daily basis.

    Thank you,

  45. Darin commented on Aug 20

    Just wanted to apologize for the feeding frenzy I feel responsible for about the markets and evolution. While I most certainly still disagree with your comments and think that all the comments afterward missed my point completely (I was thinking Alain Badiou, who knows where this turned ID and fundamentalist), never intended to ‘diss you in your home’. Congrats on the traffic, sorry for any problems I caused.

  46. cm commented on Aug 20

    paul: This begets another meta-level question, is the purpose of commenting/discussing a discourse with agenda and defined goal (i.e. business meeting style), or is it (within reasonable bounds) open-ended, and which is more useful and to whom. In most cases, adding perspective necessitates deviating at least somewhat from the topic proper. Often times discourse gains from crosslinking to other areas, otherwise there is the risk of stewing in one’s own juice.

    But then as others have pointed out it’s up to our host to define this if the current format is not what is desired.

  47. Chief Tomahawk commented on Aug 20

    “I don’t have a “tip jar” here, but it is considered good nettiquette to send a token off of the wish list IF YOU MADE MONEY. Its doesn’t need to be a $15,000 watch; A $10 CD is fine — its the thought that counts.”

    May I suggest BR you encourage gift certificates by listing your favorite chains to spend change at? The handy thing is they can always be re-directed to your babysitter, assistant, co-workers, etc.

  48. Bob A commented on Aug 20

    I do appreciate the information and discussion that appears here and congratulations on the numbers of visitors. Wonder why not even more of them comment? Having come here by way of RealMoney I must say I’m having a hard time lately justifying the cost of that subscription. … oh and I’m just a little curious about the fashion design selections in your wish list?

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