I think this blog has been a useful initiative and the comment feature has been an important part of this success. The large number of comments that the site receives is proof of its popularity and impact. However, unlike some popular economics blogs from other parts of the world (Calculated Risk, Baseline Scenario) the debate in the comments is often (not always) well informed and useful. Also, unlike many other blogs, the contributors here have often shown a willingness to engage with the commenters.
As everyone knows, the underlying economic news has generally been pretty bad over the past couple of years. And, even with signs of economic recovery around, there are lots of serious problems and things to worry about. For this reason, many of the posts focus on facts and figures that are negative.
Over time, certain patterns have emerged in the debate in the comments. Some of the commenters on this site have decided that there is somehow a conspiracy of bias among the contributors to deliberately focus on negative things or to (sigh) “talk down the economy” or that contributors are motivated by some sort of political agenda. For people who are contributing in an unpaid manner in their spare time and motivated by the desire to inform the public, this stuff is quite disheartening.
Debate in the comments is practically never censored – personal abuse and Don’t Get Philip Sued are, as far as I can tell, the only things that trigger contributors to lose precious time deleting comments.
However, policy on policing of comments is generally up to the individual contributor. Other contributors can make their own rules but, after what has been a particularly fractious week in the comments, I’ve decided to make the following request of people commenting on my posts:
1. No personal abuse of the economists who contribute to the site or other commenters.
2. No insinuations about grand conspiracies on the part of the evil blog henchmen or commenters.
3. No insinuations about contributors being motivated by their support for some political party.
Those who fail to honour the request should not be too surprised if at some point in between doing all the other things I actually get paid to do, I decide to delete their comments. Personal abuse of named individuals by those who decide to use a nom de blog will be particularly frowned upon. Also, comments whinging about having your comments deleted will also be deleted.
In return, those who keep to the guidelines can disagree with me all they want.