Comments, Trolls, Asshats

Sunday, May 11, 2008 | 05:00 PM

One of the things I try to do with the site is maintain a high level of discourse between myself and the readers. As the traffic to the site has ramped up, we have attracted more political wankers, trolls, asshats than is conducive to intelligent conversation.

This post is a reminder as to how I deal with these folks, excerpted from our lovingly constructed Disclosures & Terms of Use.


First off, I attempt to read every comment that goes up. I read all email, but make no promises about responding.

All email addresses on comments are not published, but I do see them. Comments with real office email addresses (, etc.) get priority. Hotmail is frowned upon, as it has become a garbage address and refuge for spammers. Cowardly "anons" barely get glanced at. If I am unable to respond to you privately due to a bogus email address ("") don't be surprised if you get a snarky answer in your own comment.

When posting your first ever Big Picture comment, I suggest you make it informative, interesting, on topic, and of of moderate length -- a paragraph or two. Lazy one sentence or one word comments typically get deleted. (First! gets you banned). Rambling 1000 word comments also get edited or deleted (*GYOFBM!).  Comments on much older posts are also suspect.

I post comments in my own name. Anytime I edit anyone else's posts, I clearly mark it as such

BR: like this.

On occasion I will post someone else's email (or telephone call) as a comment in their first name ("Bob") or initials ("JB") -- because they can't. My circle of colleagues and friends includes many people who due to their employers compliance policies risk their jobs by posting comments.

I onlyon rare occasions will delete reader comments after the fact on their own request (Its been done less 5 times). If you post something that years from now is embarrassing, well, that's just too bad. Think twice before ranting like a jackass.

URLs in Comments: I encourage people to link back to other sources and sites in comments. However, keep it on topic. Hijacking posts with irrelevant links to unrelated subjects is the fats track to deletion and banning.

Feel free to put your own blog/site in the URL space when entering comments.

However, URLs in the body of comments that are merely self-promotional (i.e., do not add to the content) may be deleted, and their authors branded linkwhores. If I suspect you are merely posting short comments in order to enhance your Google score, I may leave the comment but delete your URL. 

Want some of my Google Juice? Play by my rules.

Trackbacks: I encourage Trackbacks from non-commercial sites discussing the issues we chew over here. However, since trackbacks and comments can also be a way to raise your Google score, trackbacks that appear to be grabs for Google score will also be deleted. Commercial trackbacks will be invoiced as advertising.

Assignments: There are few things that I find more annoying than disingenuous rhetoric. "Why are you ignoring X? You must post on this NOW."

No, no I mustn't. I do not, and will not, under any circumstances, accept your homework assignments. They will be deleted, and your troll potential score will skyrocket. Instead, you fat lazy bastard, do some homework yourself. Then, post a clever observation and URL. Perhaps you will stimulate a conversation. Of course, you could always write your own blog, 'cepting your constant masturbation makes typing exceedingly slow.

Worse still are the emails asking for my opinion on this, or would you comment on that. In 90% of the cases, I have already covered the subject extensively (if only the emailer bothered to look). See the Google search box up top?

My apologies to the remaining 10%, but that's how it goes: Like so many things, a small group has ruined it for everyone else.

Trolls and Asshats:

This may be a free country, but The Big Picture is my personal fiefdom. I rule over all as benevolent dictator. I will ban anyone whom I choose from posting comments -- usually, for a damned good reason, but on rare occasions, for the exact same reason God created the platypus: because I feel like it.

I encourage a broad range of perspectives, philosophies, market positions, sexual orientations. Dissent is good. I want to see a debate of views, a battle in the market place of ideas ala Thomas Jefferson. You can post on nearly anything, so long as it is at least tangentially related to the topic at hand.

On occasion, I will "unpublish" a comment if I feel it is too impolite, harsh, ad hominem, inappropriate, or off-topic. Off-topic posts have been rising, and I have taken to unpublishing them en masse. Publish too many comments on a given post (3 or 4 relevant comments out of 30 are fine, 10 out of 30 is excessive). It takes me ~10 seconds to un-publish 10 comments. If you find yourself publishing way too many comments, consider this: This humble blog is my forum for expressing my ideas. Get your own damned blog.   

Lately, I have been doing more than unpublishing nonsense posts -- I simply en masse mark them as spam, and kiss that IP address good bye.

I also have been reviewing the IP addresses of posters, and looking at all of their comments. If they either publish under multiple names  (I love a comment and then a subsequent comment agreeing with themselves)  or simply post alot of jacked up nonsense, they get the same treatment. They won't be missed.

Getting Banned for Life:

A few things that will get you permanently banned from commenting at The Big Picture. The fastest way to lose posting privileges is to misrepresent your host's complex and nuanced views in some inane bumper sticker comment.

Other fast tracks to getting banned:

- Knowingly posting false or malicious material;
- multiple postings under different names;
- generally engaging in troll-like behavior;
- misquoting your host/overlord;
- being impolite in the extreme;
- ad hominem attacks;
- being an asshole.

Right now, someone is reading this and saying to themselves "What does he mean, being an asshole?" If you wondered that to yourself, well the odds strongly favor that you yourself have sphincter-like qualities. Thus, you should consider it likely that you will be banned as a rectoid from posting comments sometime in the near future.


*GYOFB  stands for Get Your Own Fucking Blog

Sunday, May 11, 2008 | 05:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (28) | TrackBack (0) add to | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post



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you are a good man. I've learned a lot of financial lessons from your site. i'm not a rich person or who earns a lot of money. But i want to financially take care of myself and do my own investments.I've been a reader of your blog for a long time.It's a shame that some people want to destroy this fine veneue of financial wisdom.
-Sam Jacob

Posted by: Sam Jacob | May 11, 2008 5:30:52 PM

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