7 Suggestions for Scott Adams:

Stick to Drawing Comics

Scott Adams, who I have long adored as both a writer and a cartoonist (see this post), has decided to dramatically cut back his blogging (as per this blog post: Going Forward)

No, no, no, no, no!

I believe this is a mistake. If he wants to cut back blogging for its own sake, that’s one thing. But to allow the unsavory mass of syphilitic cretins, the under-dwelling bridge trolls, the ugly philistines to unduly influence him truly is an absurdity, one that cries out for correction.

With any luck, this post is that correction.


Dear Scott,

We don’t know each other, but I feel your pain.

I want to — selfishly — make a few suggestions, with the hope that a little tough love will get you to resume regular posting.

Please consider all 7 of these suggestions:

1. Embrace the Churn

Every public entity needs to understand churn: Netflix, Mobile carriers, magazines, HBO, Broadband providers, etc. all understand that for each new 10 clients they get, they lose a few. Sometimes, quite a few.

Your widespread publicity means that you will be pulling up a lot of jellyfish in your tuna nets. Its inevitable, can’t be helped.

Understand this, expect it, embrace it. You can start by throwing the jellyfish back.

You do that by:

2. Engage in Triage:

In wartime, medics on the front line make life and death decisions. Sheer numbers mean you must engage in some on-the-fly battlefield  medicine. You cannot save everyone, so concentrate on who you can save. This will be the audience that is of value to you, both as a writer, and monetarily.

There will be some difficult choices you will have to make. Some must die so others can live.

You cannot rescue every poor bastard you come across. Out of millions of readers, don’t be afraid to lose the nettlesome, annoying, time consuming pinheads. Even the borderline cases must go — its strictly a numbers game. Given the math, even those “with potential” must get the heave-ho if they are psychically draining.

You will find readers by the thousands that you want to address. Smart, loyal, creative, humble, beautiful strangers whose comments and contributions are a joy to behold.

The rest of the dolts? Well, you need to learn to say:

3. Fuck ’em.

Shake loose some of that California niceness you developed, and re-find your inner New Yorker.

If an in-DUH-vidual is offended or insulted by something you wrote, and feels the need to declare they will never read Dilbert again, well, then Fuck ’em — you didn’t want them reading you anyway.

Trust me when I tell you, for each inflamed hemorrhoid you lose, your world becomes a better place. And, the improvements are cumulative.

This is a staple attitude you must bring to writing on the web. Without it, you will be chewed up and spit out like so much chaw. This is a deep philosophical breakthrough you must achieve in order to survive.

I’ve read many of the comments posted on your blog, and it appears there is no DMZ line. Figure out what is acceptable to you, and post some guidelines (sample). Anything over that line get deleted, and the author’s IP address gets banned. If you are really feeling puckish, you can create a hall of shame.

Hey, its your house. I don’t let my guests piss in the potted plants — neither should you.

4. Intern Up:

Of course you don’t have time for this — thats why on the 4th day, the Lord created interns.

Working for you would be a career highlight for some aspiring writer/literary agent/ass kisser. Train this young sycophant well to follow the edict of #3: All trolls, asshats and weasels get deleted, banned and shamed.

Of course, to do this, you need to:

5. Toughen Up!

The web is a dangerous brew: Mix one part anonymity, another part self-righteous English lit majors, throw in some political trolls, along with a snarling pack of ironically impaired cretins, and Voila! The perfect vehicle for human idiocy to express itself in its fullest flower.

Toughen up! You are not in a small town anymore.

You are a sensitive type — an artiste. But that doesn’t mean you need to eat shit from a bunch of neer-do-wells, pederasts, or Ann Coulter fans.

I find it abhorent that a group of keyboard-pecking monkeys can shout you down. Instead, you should:

6. Respond Appropriately to the Unwashed Masses:

Issue:  (Said in a whiney, nasal voice: We don’t want to pay for the book, it was on line for free.

Possible Responses:

WrongGee, I’m sorry, I didn’t consider that. Maybe that was a mistake on my part.

RightHey, asshole — buy the goddamned book or I will run your puppy over with my Sears Craftsman 24 hp 50 inch ZTS 7500 Zero Turn Riding Mower (big endorsement bucks) and mail you back the shreds! What is this, a fucking charity?

Its kind of a subtle difference, but if you squint, you may see what I mean.

7. Remember Sturgeon’s Law:  Science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon once said “95% of science fiction is crap. Come to think of it, 95% of *everything* is crap.”

If any meatspace law carries over to this series of tubes, it is that one.

Sift out the crap. Keep the best 5%


I hope you found this helpful.

And I hope you keep publishing online . . .


UPDATE: November 28th, 2007 2:45pm

A reader reminds me of this prior post from December 2006:

Generic Blog Post & Comments


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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. mack macdaniel commented on Nov 27

    Although I don’t read Dilbert, that was important. Your perspective is appreciated.

    Thanks, Barry.

    In your case, Succinct = Inspiring.

  2. wabrew commented on Nov 27

    Classic Barry – classic – one of your best posts!. I am drinking a 2005 Napa Blackbird propertiary table red – what are you deinking?

  3. Thomas commented on Nov 27

    OK, this is brilliant.

    It’s definitely a problem for celebrity bloggers that they attract more than their fair share of griefers and idiots – but giving up blogging because of these people is the wrong thing to do.

  4. gorobei commented on Nov 28


    I own a lot of Scott Adams’ books, but he’s always struck me as an asshole online.
    E.g. his dumb-ass creation vs evolution posts, where, after getting spanked by the reality-based community, he lamely claims he was doing “parody” or something. Just embarassing to watch.

    As he himself said, he wrote a lot of strips based on reader suggestions. That’s fine, there’s a long history of that for print.

    But then he did something rather different: grabbed the comments from his own blog and published them as a chunk of his book. His unwitting, unpaid co-authors were obviously rather pissed at this move, and advised people to not buy the book. SA then ignored the legal and netiquette issues, and slagged his own readers.

    Fuck him. There are plenty of interesting blog authors in the world that actually respect the communities they have created.

  5. peter from oz commented on Nov 28

    good one barry
    glad I haven’t been culled by you yet (I think)
    I read dilbert every day
    1) to be glad I’m not incarcerated
    2) stay mentally in touch with those who are

    must say as a bloggee one does drop off once the comments are full of the sort of stuff you ranted about a few months ago
    BTW get some sleep its a roily boily market and no place for sissies!!
    rgds pcm

  6. KirkH commented on Nov 28

    His blog is one of the very few that has consistently good content.

    Barry, you might also want to consider some of the comment rating systems available, then the masses can mod down the morons. Reddit probably has the best system I’ve seen.

    Also, in case anybody missed it, Jimmy Dean just reduced the size of their sausage from 16 to 12 ounces so they wouldn’t have to raise prices. Hungry people are angry…

  7. Glenn Fleishman commented on Nov 28

    Not sure if Adams alludes to it, but he’s now managing a restaurant near his home due to some management problems and his co-ownership of it. Thus, he’s barely got enough time to eat and sleep. The blog probably falls by the wayside.

  8. Pete commented on Nov 28

    Thanks for the wisdom. Broadly applicable.

  9. Pete commented on Nov 28

    Thanks for the wisdom. Broadly applicable.

  10. Graham commented on Nov 28

    Still laughing. Distilled wisdom but with the high proof edge.

  11. whipsaw commented on Nov 28


    I assume that you were quoting an email that you sent to Scott? If so, have you considered the possibility that he will never see it because it landed in a spam bucket somewhere because of the language used? I don’t care about the language personally, just pointing out how filters can work against inbound email from unknown addresses.


  12. side pocket commented on Nov 28

    Wonderful set of suggestions. You have an exquisite sense of humor.

  13. anonymous commented on Nov 28

    Successful cartoonists, like successful rock musicians, often reach their financial earnings peak decades after their creative peak. Charles Schulz makes $35 million a year, despite not having been funny since the 1960s, and despite being dead ( http://www.forbes.com/2007/10/26/top-dead-celebrity-biz-media-deadcelebs07-cz_lg_1029celeb_slide_4.html ).

    In other words, Scott Adams could get a lobotomy tomorrow, turn Dilbert into Family Circus at the office, and he’d still retire a bazillionaire. In fact, the only thing that could threaten that is if he got Larry Summers’d over some controversial blog post remark that took on a life of its own. All downside and no upside.

  14. donna commented on Nov 28

    And Scott, quit being a winger shithead and embrace evolution – the creationist stuff is boring beyond belief.

  15. Rob Dawg commented on Nov 28

    Jeez, Barry. Your sycophantic intern sure nailed this one.

  16. john commented on Nov 28

    This is great…. my Big Picture addiction is worse then ever! Thanks for all your time and effort.

  17. Charles Schulz commented on Nov 28

    Fucking brilliant.

    You ever think of doing a cartoon strip . . .?

  18. Eclectic commented on Nov 28

    Funny post. You give good rant.

    Adams has just run up against the reality that his efforts cost too much of his productivity and don’t reward him financially, or enough. Too, if inspiration for his art about the oddities of humanity was what he was looking for, he can get enough of that by reading other blogs, like yours, or any here’s-my-two-cents type attack dog commentary from financial message boards to tractor accessories discussion forums.

    You know what I mean… like when one motor trucker gets offended because another motor trucker likes a different brand of disc harrow or hay baler than he does, and because of it he wants to savage the offender in a crescendo of to-the-downward and to-the-rightward threaded insults, or worse, to look the guy up and beat his eyes out and carve the name of the one true god of agricultural manufacturing on his forehead.

    Then there’s the XYZ Company stock hater that goes on that company’s message board on Yahoo Finance and posts uninterruptedly for a solid 24 hours trying to prove that some other peckerwood poster has posted under more than one absurd alias, and that the peckerwood in question is a pump-n-dumper, and that by revealing him to the rest of the message board readers he’ll prevent the stock from moving up, or proudly cause it to move down, by maybe 15 cents or more in a particular day when XYZ trades 18 trillllliiiioooon shares in total market value equal to the GDP of the Milky Way Galaxy.

    Humanity is way too peculiar and funny to have to make up fiction about it.

    Adams wrote that he can’t tell his family after taking off from his regular paid workday that he’s then got to withdraw from them to also devote more time to the unproductive entertainment of his blogging audience.

    In your case, Barringo, Mrs. BP probably enjoys the opportunity to keep you occupied and TF out of BB, and thus from draggin’ home more electrono-crack to the point you’d have to build on to your house for a place to put it all, or move the pigeon cages out of the attic to a U-Stor-It.

    BTW, that’s another fun thing about posting comments here… one gets to speak in a coded language sometimes that only the blogster understands (*and everybody else that doesn’t should understand I’m kidding the host).

    BTW, Barringo… go read his blog and comments again and I think you may then agree with me that he probably wouldn’t be an enthusiastic supporter of 512/DMCA.

  19. Dawn Mular commented on Nov 28

    With so much of my life experiences reflected in Dilbert and “Office Space”, I must say that an artist willingly giving up a freely creative medium that so many of us relate to is a pity. I buy Dilbert. Because I laugh at the beauty others have created from pointed headed bosses and catbert and outsourcing.

  20. Dr.Mani commented on Nov 28

    Barry, my first visit to your blog (courtesy Hugh Macleod of Gaping Void) – and I loved this post.

    Sure hope Scott reads it – and listens. I love the Dilbert blog, though I consume it in gulps instead of sips due to time constraints. Would certainly be a shame if he lets others dictate his blogging frequency – or style.

    All success

    P.S. – One more solution may be to turn comments OFF!

  21. Eclectic commented on Nov 28

    Well, I’ve drifted back into the 512/DMCA discussion again. I’ve noticed something about types of commentary that usually follow the debate. I found this to be once again true in the Dilbertized version of the debate.

    There are 3 primary character types that always show up, in one form or another. If you don’t believe me, read any commentary on any blog about the downloading of copyright protected digital media. Here are the characters:

    The Prolific Reproducer – This is the type respondent that has every type of copyright cracking electronic device known to common mankind, the CIA or the KGB, and proudly displays the fact that he’s got human civilization’s entire content of art, music, poetry, film and word on a memory stick stuck into his personal digital device, and furthermore that he’ll also harvest anything thing else that’s new in these copyrighted fields just as soon as he can get his thieving hands on it.

    The Ultimate Consultant – This is the type that, I swear, it’s like he’s working from a script of talking points handed out at a digital larceny conference held at a big hotel in Jackson Stole, Lieoming. This type is full of advice to the owners of copyrighted material, particularly music but other forms as well. His advice is that “If they’d concentrate on making better music instead of suing everyone to protect their rights, we’d all be better off.” Of course, the ones that’d be better off are those like him who’d still get it for free by abusing copyright laws.

    The Considerate Infringer – This is the type that tells us their first opportunities to view, hear or read copyrighted material is just about always from a free source provided by a copyright offender… but that they often will send a few bucks to the owner of the material anyway, just to be fair and honorable… but even then only if they liked the stuff after consuming it 20 or 30 times to decide. They of course tell us that if the artist hasn’t impressed them enough by then that it’s the artist’s fault and therefore won’t get any financial contribution from them, thank you very much and they’ll keep the material as a complimentary gift for their efforts.

  22. Darin commented on Nov 28

    Wow, this is getting to be fairly entertaining and informative!

  23. tim commented on Nov 28

    Adams is one of several people I lost all respect for when he started blogging. You learn too much about a person and their opinions in their daily blogging. Through Adam’s blogging I discovered that he is a complete and utter idiot. As a result I can’t look at a Dilbert cartoon without thinking – yea – Adams = idiot. And I will never buy one of his books again. So perhaps he is finally learning that his opinions online is having a negative financial impact in other areas of his businesses? That would be too much to hope for.

  24. Ross commented on Nov 28

    Read todays comic ‘Pearls before Swine’. Pastis is brilliant. I never miss his toon. Today a great parody about bloggers……..

  25. Greg0658 commented on Nov 28

    ugly philistines
    This powerful association of tribes made frequent incursions against the Hebrews. There was almost perpetual war between the two peoples.

    Best Wishes Annapolis Peace Talks

    I care about the language – construction jobsites full of that – I think it originated out of WWII

    Creation > Evolution > Inteligent Design > hummmmm

    this www is upsetting the paystream for old world media
    the computer chip is changing my paystream in graphics/photo/video

  26. Douglas Watts commented on Nov 28

    I have never seen Adams’ blog. No matter. Mr. Ritholtz’s rant is universally applicable. It has that careening HST balance of wisdom and insanity.

  27. Greg0658 commented on Nov 28

    ps –
    sometimes I wonder if the inventors of the Word refuse to acknowledge that an entity was created that is Real
    ie: human energy streams

  28. OldVet commented on Nov 28

    Mr. Adams, fight back is right! I’m doing my part today at http://angrybear.blogspot.com/

    ““Mes Amis, you are in the merde, and Pere Noel isn’t coming down the cheminee,” says the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey.

  29. Boom-boom commented on Nov 28

    I certainly got the impression that Adams enjoys poking the “the unsavory mass of syphilitic cretins, the under-dwelling bridge trolls, the ugly philistines” and getting their deranged comments back.

    I wish he would drop it, but that’s why he keeps doing the evolution thing – when he questions evolution he gets a whole new set of people posting deranged comments.

  30. jon low commented on Nov 28

    Hilarious. You brightened an otherwise overcast day.

  31. ottnott commented on Nov 28

    Some people shouldn’t blog.

    People who can’t handle contact with readers definitely shouldn’t blog.

    People who can’t handle contact with readers and then defend creationism and then try to pretend that their defense wasn’t real are called “Scott Adams”.

    Screw him. I’ll read his strip on the funny pages, but my bookshelf is for Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes.

  32. Smokefoot commented on Nov 29

    Adams has been quite clear that he believes in evolution. He questions the evidence for evolution because he is amused by people who freak out by the very questioning – even though science can only exist through questioning received knowledge.

  33. Eric commented on Nov 29

    Out of curiosity, Barry: how many comments would the Big Picture get if you didn’t delete ones you didn’t like?

    I see Adams gets ten times the comments here, many of them way more rude than anything I see here–and I thought this was a tough crowd! So maybe he really needs to be ignoring (i.e. deleting) a huge number of asshats…

    To put it another way, if I only read the Big Picture, I might get the impression that trolls are a relatively infrequent inconvenience… but reading Adams’s comments, you’d think his whole audience feels free to bash the crap out of him for no reason, even those who say they like him and buy his work!

  34. Greg0658 commented on Nov 29

    Eric – I don’t see deletes in here. I typically visit 3 times a day over the last 8 months or so. I’ve been seeing a gathering storm and don’t know this Wall Street world very well.

    I wonder myself why posts are not 3 pages in length. So long a list they are nearly impossible to keep up with. Maybe folks keep their fingers quiet – outta not wanna come off like a dunce & outta respect.

    Then maybe there is TBP1, TBP2, TBP3 all segregated by talent controlled by the Master Webmaster.

  35. Barry Ritholtz commented on Nov 29

    I usually give a lot of latitude to people — give ’em enough rope to hang themselves — but after a while, its pretty clear who is a troll or asshat and who is merely someone I respectfully disagree with.

    As the blog has gotten more popular, some of the closer calls become tough. There’s one guy I keep banning, eventually letting back in — his blog is well written (despite its idiotic name), he seems intelligent, and he occasionally contributes something worthwhile. Problem is, every few weeks he turns back into an arse — He is snide, he splits hairs, and everything he writes is spun so I look the most negative.

    My problem with him was I simply didn’t have the time to argue w/correct his slant or the psychic energy to put up with his crap. I finally gave up on him — and even though he was a potentially positive contributor, he just wasn’t worth it.

    I thought about this guy when penning this piece — but like I advised Scott, its a numbers game.

    Because I have a day job and a professional reputation, the one thing I will not tolerate is being misquoted or misrepresented. I’ve made good and bad calls, but I flip back and forth all too regularly. The “Haven’t you been bearish since 1982? commenters are easily dispatched with — those people just get deleted and banned — and good riddance, with no loss of quality to the community here…

  36. Greg0658 commented on Nov 30

    my reply to the dreaded email emphasis I read 1st – now in here I see, I wasn’t deleted (yet) – I’ll post my apology for all … save our webmaster from that decision. Knowing the routine, this will slip into the dark in a day or 2.

    email reply:
    I understand.
    Among otheres, that Japan on the moon and missed the money shot was over the top.
    I’m addicted, and probably will be returning to the chats.
    I’ll keep my mouth shut and fingers off.
    And, I swear I wont change my name and go to the library.
    Thanks and excuse me .. please.
    Best wishes to TBP

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