Monday, October 22, 2007

Blog comments

I've been thinking about Prof. Mankiw's decision to turn off comments on his blog. I thought that with his succinct blogging style, the comments were essential. I'm hoping that he elaborates more on his thoughts now that there are no more comments. Here are some of his remarks:

The growth in the comments section was fine with me, as long as the discussion remained civil. Mostly it was, and I learned a lot from the comments. But unfortunately, a few (usually anonymous) commenters too often crossed the line.

I just don't have the time to police comments and enforce good behavior, especially since some posts were generating more than 100 comments. And I don't want to host a party in which a small vitriolic minority consistently tries to ruin the event for everyone else. So I decided to turn the comments feature off.

My thoughts in random order are:

  1. While biased in some of his views, his tone has been even and reasonable.
  2. He has done a pretty good job explaining economics reasoning to his readers. Unfortunately, this may have been part of the problem. The explanation while clear leaves out technical details that allows comments of the vitriolic kind. Perhaps he should be more technical instead. Unfortunately, this leaves out a group that would like to hear the economics reasoning.
  3. He sometimes blogs about controversial subjects like income distribution, taxation and the like. It is controversial only because there are a wide spectrum of views with opposing sides already dug in. Heaven forbid should he decide to blog on topics like the Iraq war.
  4. There is a huge intersection between economics and everyday life and talking about one aspect of it and laying out the economics reasoning behind it can sometimes be hard for some one in that situation to hear. It is not unreasonable to disagree with the reasoning but I suppose in his mind the comments went too far.
  5. Perhaps his tolerance for what is considered "vitriol" is lower than in other blogs.

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