Suggestions for Rules

(Text slightly amended as previous text referred to a comment now dated)
Apologies for starting a distracting thread. This blog is unmoderated for very good reason, namely that people have busy jobs. I suggest a couple of rules:

1. No personal insults

2. No direct unsubstantiated accusations

3. Use some sort of unique signature. Not necessarily an identifier. Most of the people who comment here have a clearly identified signature whether anonymous or not. There seems to be disagreement on whether this is necessary. To me it would avoid a lot of potential confusion.

22 replies on “Suggestions for Rules”

I agree with the rules.

I’m in favour of soft encouragement rather than hard enforcement. To date, we have not had much trouble. I never mistook Liam D for Liam Delaney, but maybe he or she should change to Liam Not Delaney.

Contributors should be aware that we (that is, the people listed to the right on the main page) have access to your IP and email address. We know where your house lives, so to speak.

I agree with the rules too.

On foot of Richard Tol’s comments I have now signed up for karate lessons!

I should first apologise to the people who set this blog up for jumping on this but given its an unmoderated blog, it seems appropriate that a contributor would make suggestions for rules.

Richard, it has to be soft encouragement. The volume of comments here would require a full-time person to moderate them.

As a fellow user, although I do not use such a system on my own blog, I know there are plugins that you can install which require a one-off registration before commenting and then provide each commenter a fixed username/handle thereafter.

As I think of it, Stephen Kinsella (at least until recently) used such a system.

Might be of relevance, given the profile that this blog has. I can forward on details to the administrator if necessary.

The Real Ronan L (honest)

I did use the system, and still do–it works very well, but would certainly reduce the number of commenters who are not regulars on this blog. That’s a tradeoff Philip and the others might or might not want to make, it is up to them.

(Real Steve Kinsella, honest)

Good idea on your simple rules. There is someone named ConnorG who is not me.

I was told by a knowledgeable Irish-names hobbyist that my name (Gregory Connor) is a bit backwards for an Irish-born economist. Perhaps ConnorG is Connor Gregory, a more standard Irish name. If so, I am glad he did not join me in signing Brian’s letter. But if he keeps that nome de plume, I hope he says nothing I would regret. He only contributed once that I can remember.

There is some facility for deleting and black-balling by the blog controllers, so Liam’s suggested rules are directly enforceable in extreme cases.

If you have rules the blog then becomes moderated (or else the rules are pointless.) The question becomes to moderate or not.

There are definitely holes in my suggestion. For example, there may be very well be a “Richard Tol” sitting in his energy company boardroom somewhere in Holland mortified by the comments of that economist who dares to use his name on an Irish discussion forum. Also its not up to the commenters to know the name of every single economist working in Ireland and to make sure they don’t cause confusion. For example, in LiamD’s case, he certainly does not have any reason to know who I am given that his main interest here seems to be banking. I am also not in favour of people needing to reveal their identity though some blogs do this particularly if a given pseudonym is just a way of a group infiltrating a public forum to continuously repeat the same message, or if someone is taking potshots unfairly from behind an anonymous veil.

The basic spirit of my point holds though and sorry if it sounds arrogant or uptight. The NAMA decision is something that will be remembered as long as all of us are alive and I’d rather make a fool of myself by looking uptight than have my opinions on this confused with someone elses who has his own viewpoint and is commenting based on that.

Is it not possible to require that people register a username, which is unique to them and requires login, etc?

“no personal insults” – to be honest this should extend to no personal remarks in general. “Jim” – you can try to create customs that most people adhere to without having formal rules. Following the NAMA thread, its clear that any personalised comments at all just needlessly distract the debate and are damaging to both the people that make them and the people they are targeted at. Certainly, sometimes it will be fair comment to suggest that a particular person is not living up to some function. But I honestly do not think that “matey” jokes or calling people schoolboys have any place on a forum like this.

John Quiggin has been blogging for a long long time and his list of rules are below. They are a bit elaborate but he probably didnt introduce them just for fun.

1. This is a forum for discussion. I publish it at my own expense and in my own time. It is not a public place. There is no automatic right to comment here.

2. The purpose of the comments section is to allow constructive discussion of points made in the main post. Comments which include personal attacks on me as author of the post or on other commenters (flames) will be deleted, or edited to remove such points. Commenters with a repeated history of provocation (trolls) will be banned. Comments that seek to score debating points at the expense of others (snarks) are discouraged; this is inevitably subjective, but please try to focus on substantial arguments rather than cheap shots.

4. Coarse language is prohibited, as are racist and sexist comments.

5. Pseudonymous commenting is allowed, but commenters must supply an email address on which they can be contacted. Except in the event of disruptive behaviour (as described under 6 and 7) this information will be kept confidential. Pseudonymous commenters should take particular care to avoid remarks that may be offensive to other participants in the discussion.

6. Commenting under multiple names (sock puppets) or the use of multiple email accounts to evade bans is strictly prohibited and will lead to an immediate and permanent ban. Details of persons using sock puppets may be disclosed to others including the operators of other blogs.

7. In the event of a ban, do not attempt unauthorised posting of comments, or harassment through email, phone contact or other methods. Be aware that any such action will lead to an immediate and permanent ban from this site and exposes you to a range of civil and criminal sanctions.

8. Comments with large numbers of links will trigger spam filters and be rejected automatically. In general, comments linking to sites not directly and specifically related to the post in question (for example, links to generic climate “sceptic” sites in comments on a post discussing climate policy) are discouraged. Commenters who repeatedly link to such talking point sites will face deletion of such comments and possible further sanctions.

9. Comments are welcome from anyone willing to abide by these rules. Those who don’t like these rules are free to comment elsewhere or to publish their own blogs.

Discussion of this policy is welcome, and the policy may be changed, but the policy is in force with immediate effect, and will apply to any comments made from now on.

This forum is a wonder.

Those of us who have come here from a highly politicised background appreciate the openness and high level of discourse.
I deliberately post under my own name here and I hope that it is a sufficient siscipline to keep me under control.

A registartion system for those who wish to post, with maybe a nominal charge that had to be paid by credit card to ensure a clear identity if there were a problem, may be necessary in the long term interests of what has become essential reading for so many of us.

Any increase of management of forum etc will involve a cost to someone, most likely too busy to incur it.

This could be as good as it gets.

If there is a case of multiple identical tags then perhaps one or both parties can emphasize their particular identity with employer/ faculty details etc.

There are probably a good many people that post here that keep identity vague that may have good reason: public service, union members, corporate sponsorship, irrational fears, etc.


Niall Ferguson and Paul Krugman have started to use personal insults! Much more interesting to read when there is well crafted artistry fuelled by purest spite and assisted by Venom!

In fact, as veritas often comes out in vino, it might be a very sensible idea to allow a charge of anonymous abuse of identity, to protect an intemperate commentator? I am unemployable for various reasons, but others might harbour the illusion that they are and may wish to plausibly deny in certain circumstances?

Thus, if only for purposes of debate, I oppose censorship or security of any kind. Much more thrilling! I would suggest you sell advertizing too as it will help ensure longevity and a dedication to the market. Unless you are Marxists? No insult intended!!!!

@Liam Delaney
Agree with the rules as proposed, in order to continue the form of civilised discourse which we, in this island need on the matters raised here.
IMO, such discourse means that people do not use other people’s identities, ever. Promoting the kind of discussion that emerges here means allowing the use of pseudonyms, for the reasons Al has outlined.
To what extent that calls for controls is up to the promoters of the site to decide

Being titled “irisheconomy”, discussion is going range wider than the kind of fora in which the founders normally use eg. lectures, conference presentations, journals (refereed or not). Thus some comment may be intemperate (I can think of one such flame by one of those listed on the right!) or ill-informed or both.

Presumably those who set up the site aim to ensure that there is far more light than heat, in considering and developing options for managing the Irish economy and all that implies, in terms of the use of power whether it be that derived from knowledge/insight (which is what the promoters of the site claim, I presume) or position (those who make decisions or with influence on decision-makers – whether that influence derived from office or something else, not excluding knowledge).

The late Patrick Lynch observed that “From the clash of ideas, minds ignite”.
Let this be the leitmotiv of those contributing to the site, rather than seeking to be entertained by the what Pat Donnelly has suggested eg. clashing egos. I am not convinced that the kind of veritas that emerges from vino will adance sound management of the Irish economy.

@Pat Donnelly
Why do suggest that those who do not use advertising are Marxist?

Gents as relatively recent Trinity economics graduate I visit the website daily and thoroughly enjoy the content and debate. The most disturbing comments I have read on the website since I came upon it some months ago are the ones posted in this thread. As a fan I urge you all to get back to what you all do best!!!!

Donal O’Brolchain
Marxists = failed joke sorry for any offence!

One point arises over identity. As a blog becomes influential it attracts flies. People who use anonymity to protect a conflict of interest. I believe that the use of pure reason is not as robust as we would like and that some improper influence can be brought to bear in this way.
I also suggest a safeguard. The commentator supply a history of their own so that the comments made can be weighed in light of that history.

Chow and lie
I agree an edit or preview function would help error elimination.
Who are you? Do you wear a mask or use silver bullets?

I dont follow all the points above. From reactions both here and elsewhere there is no demand (not from me either) for “forced moderation” in the sense of a person actually actively deleting comments in ambiguous cases (im sure someone already spends a good bit of time deleting viagra adds and related spam). Jokes aside, people seem to mostly agree with the idea that if you dont want to use your actual name you should make an effort not to use a comment name that might get confused with someone. The personal insults issue though is going to have be discussed at some stage. Sure, it can be fun and perhaps even useful for knowledge when two titans like Krugman and Ferguson hurl boulders at one another. When it gets into petty bickering and gossip in the margins of blog comments then it becomes something you would want to discourage in my view.

Comments are closed.