Blog Comments: Reminders

This blog has a good reputation for high-quality, relevant comments.   I remind commentators to refrain from ad hominen comments and request that the focus remains on the substance of the economic arguments. There is plenty of material to debate, without having to dwell on the integrity or intelligence of other contributors. The avoidance of crude language also appreciated  – remember, many tender-aged children and genteel folks read this blog!

31 replies on “Blog Comments: Reminders”

Perhaps the Irish Economists might like to send a letter along these lines to all the Irish newspapers, the Sunday Independent especially? Their personal attacks on Morgan Kelly today were savage even by their low standards.

shane ross ” much reviled but heroic economist” very fair, and the photo fits nicely in a 6 x 4 frame

There’s a certain level of decorum that is needed for any serious discussion.

However, there is a certain level of decorum that impedes any serious discussion; particularly for the most serious of matters.

Insistence on absolute politeness, total civility and self-censorship will do little other than stifle real debate and smother serious discussion. Follow such procedures has in part lead to this country being run by blackguards, as others are powerless to impede them. Just watch any quasi-heated Dail debate to see the effects of stifling formality.

This isn’t the Dail, and it isn’t even the Joe Duffy show. It’s a blog—on the Internet. And you’re either prepared for people calling a spade a spade, or else you can implement a registration system.

Incivility is like a transitive verb. The object can’t avoid it.

Best absent in discussion, in my humble opinion.

Cowardly people, who hide behind pseudonyms, are in no position to lecture the rest of us on the appropriate forms of public discourse. There is NO conflict between politeness and civility on the one hand and open debate and discussion on the other. Academics, intellectuals and many others have combined the two for centuries. So it can’t be that hard, can it?

@Kevin

Academics, intellectials and many others yes. Not too much of it in the City though.

Language like Ireland is totally @$%”ked was commonplace there as long ago as 2007. The use of polite language about the place had in some respects begun to seem redundant and just didn’t seem strong enough to get the point across. Sometimes the point is not just one about data or facts, but also has to be made wrt someone’s judgement and biases too.

I know that a lot of people who ought to have known better took umbridge about it and prefered to engage in polite sophistry. The time for that must surely have gone even in D4.

I would suggest that the character assassination of late has been a bit much though and should be toned down in the comments.

@Philip Lane.
I agree. I may not always adhere to the subject but you are correct to remind people.
Now that you mention site issues in my view the threads change too quickly.

@anonym

I was not referring to the barrowboys but the people who make decisions allocating fund capital.

The only thing the barrrowboys would be interested in is how long it takes from the airport to temple bar on a friday night.

@Kevin Denny
You write:

“Cowardly people, who hide behind pseudonyms, are in no position to lecture the rest of us on the appropriate forms of public discourse. ”

Some people who ‘hide behind pseudonyms’ do so out of a kind of shyness (me, for example).

I am quite happy, however, to communicate my identity privately to anyone who asks for it.

@ PL & JR re: “site issues”

OT but could one of the posters here provide something like this NY Times webpage that lets you pick & choose among various policies and see how they impact the deficit short-term and long-term?

We could do with versions with different growth rates and different bond prices.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/13/weekinreview/deficits-graphic.html

Much of the debate is about how the impact would play out (bond mkts etc.) it would still be interesting to see the relative savings of various proposals, and let the public mix and match.

(e.g. cut Dail members by 50%; close xxx tax loophole; reduce middle-level mgt at HSE by xx%; reduce employers PRSI to X, reduce minimum wage to X, introduce water charges, etc.)
It might help us get past some of the rhetoric, even if it’s an imperfect model. E.g. maybe some options might be particularly effective for all projected growth rate / bond price scenarios.

Or different economists could present different models.

Something visual would make the debate more tangible.

@ Phillip

i apologise for any perhaps sometimes personal outbursts from me. However, despite being on numerous occasions accused as either a bond or DoF or a.n.other shill, i think its incredibly difficult to deny that all of my comments and ideas are (in my view) wanting of a better economic outlook for Ireland. They are, if nothing else, wanting Ireland to be a better place. Maybe i’m wrong, but i want better things for this country.

However, there are some commentators on here who have admitted that they in fact want the economy to get worse, for people’s economic situation to get worse, and whose economic commentary is singuarly focused on negative events hitting the Irish economy. This is an establised and admitted fact. I do not think that me, and others, getting upset at these ideologically-biased opinions and rantings is unreasonable, and given that we are pretty much at economic war right now, i believe it is completely jusitifiable. If the worst thing that happens in this is that someone’s feelings get hurt, then i reckon that thats a small price to pay. I will try to keep my comments fair and honest and non-personal in nature, but i can’t promise that they will always meet this ruling.

I don’t mind anonymity – people have their reasons. There is only one way to deal with trolls – DELETE. They wrecked my blog. Don’t let them wreck this one.

One of the first and still one of the most successful online communities is the WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) founded by Stewart Brand* and Larry Brilliant in 1985. On the question of anonymity and its impact on civility and quality, they made a couple of quite astute observations for such an early internet venture, which I think have served them well and are relevant to the discussion here. From Wikipedia:

“WELL members use a consistent login name when posting messages, and a non-fixed pseudonym field alongside it. The pseudonym (or pseud in WELL parlance) defaults to the user’s real name, but can be changed at will and so often reflects a quotation from another user, or is an in-joke, or may be left blank. The user’s real name can be easily looked-up using their login name. WELL members are not anonymous.

There is a time-honored double meaning to the WELL slogan coined by Stewart Brand, “You Own Your Own Words” or (“YOYOW”): members have both the rights to their posted words and responsibility for those words, too. (Members can also delete their posts at any time, but a placeholder indicates the former location and author of an erased or scribbled post, as well as who scribbled it.)”

So I would be in favor of a registration system, which also allowed for pseudonyms if people wanted. Nobody has posited a convincing argument for anonymity here (shyness does not really cut it) and it is clear that it enables people to write things which they would not take responsibility for with their real names. If a convincing argument exists, please make it.

The costs of anonymity are not only for the community. Perhaps the many anonymous commenters on this site, who spend considerable time and effort writing posts almost daily, do not realize that their reliance on anonymity causes me, at least, to discount what they write. If someone does not have the confidence or the integrity to “own their own words”, my (perhaps “oversuspicious”) nature causes me to doubt either his/her belief in what they write or their motives for doing so.

*Full disclosure: I work for a company that was also founded by Brand

The posts should stand on their own merits. This main issue is so incredibly important, that emotional language is only to be expected, but there clearly are boundaries. Those who resort too often to attacking anything other than the “facts” or their interpretation will clearly damage their own case and that of the fellow “shills” or “wreckers”!

Sorry to hear you gave up on your blog Sarah. Try again? You can always moderate comments foir a while? We can only unify behind good policies if we debate the limits, edges and clear fallacies that do tend to be thrown out in the path of the righteous! I think we all want confedence in the future, but the W case is that much sorrow is baked into current policy whereas the S case is that if we all sing the same song of joy, rich, intelligent well connected people, many of whom have engineered the problems we now have, will risk scarce capital to make Ireland wealthier even though we are in a depression. The S case is that this is a recession that has already ended, and that Ws are preventing further investment, even if banks are drawing billions out of the economy every year?

which is worse:

Openly advocating that the economy implodes and yearning for the chaos that would ensue…

or

Calling prophets of doom to account in a public forum….even if it involves a degree of emotional defense of the country’s future prospects?

Dont call for the country to collapse if you cant handle the opprobium that will inevitably come your way.

Openly advocating that the economy implodes and yearning for the chaos that would ensue…

Who, exactly, are you referring to here…?

Brian Lucey.. in his own words

“We need massive governance change and that requires a catalyst.”

It is obvious to anyone who reads his posts just what kind of ‘catalyst’ he has in mind…. the total disorderly collapse of the Irish economy.

Personally I prefer the catalyst of the ballot box and could do without the economic armageddon that Brian Lucey seems to favour as a way to get rid of this Government.

@ Ronan Furlong

That wish for a total collapse reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld’s creative destruction plans for Iraq. Sure democracy would flower as soon as you got the Baathists out of power. 2.5 million refugees later ..

re. anonymity

I prefer to keep it, as I believe that it enables some people to make comments from positions which their employers might not quite appreciate.
It is a means of getting some insight, even we know that the thread initiators can see the origin of all postings.

Ad hominem comments do not help advance our understanding of matters economic very much, even if such comments offer insights on sentiment – which may be shared by many that we do not normally meet.

The thread is called irisheconomy and thus implies political economy. Once the political aspect is accepted, it does open the possibility of people say venting their feelings, only!

@Mick Costigan
“If someone does not have the confidence or the integrity to “own their own words”, my (perhaps “oversuspicious”) nature causes me to doubt either his/her belief in what they write or their motives for doing so. ”

I agree with you but feel compelled to point out that that in iteslf is an “ad hominem” argument. I’ve had a sneaking regard for ad hominem arguments provided they are well made – ever since Mandy Rice Davies’s compelling and unanswerable “Well he would say that wouldn’t he?”

@Philip
Probably what you really intend is that you want comments without personal abuse. I don’t think ad hominem arguments are always inapproprate. For example a recommendation by Angela Merkel should be examined on it’s merits – but if there is a hidden benefit to Germany – then the recommendations carry much less weight. There are many examples of this type of vested interest argumentation, and it is quite fair to draw attention to it.

@Carolus Galviensis

What about Nouriel Roubini? Or George Soros? Neither subscribes to the “Austrian” viewpoint; as a plus, the kind of policies they would suggest wouldn’t turn a financial crisis into a general depression.

The problem with the financial crisis in general and Ireland’s role in particular was not that it took genii to forecast it, it was the blizzard of misinformation produced by vested interests, economists lack of faith in their own discipline and a near universal incapacity to hold an opinion without the support of some ideology, movement, religion, party or whatever.

Most money types share the same prejudices. When it came down to it, all the analyses and projections served one purpose only: to reinforce those prejudices. Contrary data was ignored. For years the USA, Ireland, Spain etc were like Wile E Coyote after he ran off a cliff. As soon as they realised there was nothing holding them up, they were bound to fall.

@Mick Costigan

“So I would be in favor of a registration system, which also allowed for pseudonyms if people wanted. Nobody has posited a convincing argument for anonymity here (shyness does not really cut it) and it is clear that it enables people to write things which they would not take responsibility for with their real names. If a convincing argument exists, please make it”

Think about all those people in places like the IFSC or the Central Bank that might have quite a decent insight into current and past occurrances in the Irisheconomy. Do you want their perspective? Are you are more, or less likely to tempt a few into reasonably candid engagement via anonymity? I would suggest less.

If the blog gets swamped by noise then do something about it, similarly if someone is too annoying. Seems mostly quite thoughtful stuff to me though.

@Mick Costigan
“Perhaps the many anonymous commenters on this site, who spend considerable time and effort writing posts almost daily, do not realize that their reliance on anonymity causes me, at least, to discount what they write.”
You see, I have the opposite view. I either already like or dislike the named people I know so I either pay attention or not to them.

With anonymous posters, albeit with consistent IDs, I find I have to first engage with what they write and deduce their personal views from that. So I have to engage with them.

In any case, I have no idea who you are. You are, in effect, anonymous to me. Why should knowing that “Mick Costigan” is your real name lend any weight to anything you write?

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