Arnold Kling  

Questions About Blogging

PRINT
A scam Elliot Spitzer Won't To... Sampling Bias on a Plane...

"Jane Galt" asks her readers

1) Why do you read blogs?

2) Why do you read economics blogs, specifically?

3) What are your favourite economics blogs?

4) Even more specifically, why do you read this blog?

5) What are your favourite blog features?

6) What aspects of blogging annoy/repel you?

7) What would you like to see more of on economics blogs in general, and specifically on this one?

8) Are there things that aren't currently found on economics blogs that you would like to see?

9) If you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be? This is our demographic control question.

Here are my answers:

1 and 2. Blogs remind me of Bernie Saffran, the late economics professor. His teaching style was conversational. Also, he was constantly recommending interesting things to read. That is what blogs do.

3. Greg Mankiw and Marginal Revolution have lapped the field.

4. I read Asymmetrical Information because Megan McArdle (aka "Jane Galt"), a former English major, is one of the best writers in the blogosphere. She also has interesting things to say. For example, see this post on war from when she guest-blogged on Instapundit.

5-6. Links and trackbacks are good (the latter can be spammed, unfortunately). Unpoliced comments are bad. I think we have the best comment policing strategy, which is to warn commmenters who are getting too personal and, if they fail to adjust, banning them. My theory is that for every bad commenter you ban, several good commenters come out of the woodwork.

7. I'd like to see more back-and-forth disagreements among economics bloggers. My sense is that such disagreements can be clarifying. On Asymmetrical Information, I'd like to see more posts by Zimran Ahmed (aka "winterspeak"). He is an interesting and brilliant guy.

8. I think that somebody should come up with a statistical filter for reading blogs, sort of like the statistical filter that I use for spam. If you were to combine the aggregation features of Economics Roundtable with a statistical algorithm that learns my preferences, I think it would improve things a lot. An unfiltered aggregator gives me too many posts to consider and still misses posts that I would like to read.

9. If I were a vegetable, then I would be ketchup, and hence controversial.


Comments and Sharing





COMMENTS (5 to date)
aaron writes:

1) For entertainment and insights. Blogs filter information, highlighting the important information better. Information and opinion are also distinct, unlike how many news media influence a story by adding analysis and opinion as background or for context. It is inappropriate and all too common for journalist to provide context in news (tying an article to other recent headlines). The reader should have his own context. Reading blogs make me more aware of reframing of context (by exposure to many perspective, opinions, and information).

2. I like the logic, reasoning, and simplicity. Economics blogs tend to link to more interesting and entertaining material than others. Much broader subject material too.

3. Marginal Revolution, Econlog, JaneGalt.

4. Excellent perspective and good analysis.

5. Comments and easy keyboard navigation.

6. Hyper focus on fads and trivial social hierarchy and political gaming. Credentialism (much poor thinking gets attention because of people's credentials. It's just not scrutanized. Lot's of ideas are accepted soley because of who promotes them). Hyping the "blogosphere" as an entity.

7. Ideas on the concept of money and the distiction of economics and finance. I would like to see the idea of money as simply an accounting device promoted. I see money (finance) as a way to measure economics, which is a more qualitative. Money is a means to quantify the qualitative (subjective). Consideration of how to change the money supply to synch it with the relative size of the economy it is used in and methods to introduce new money into the system for most effective economic growth (directing new money to where it can most effectively measure economic activity).

8) Not really related to the question, but I would like to see information on how to develop a good financial market and description of finacial markets role in economics.

9)Asperagus

Brandon Berg writes:

I've always wondered: What's the full story behind that ketchup-as-vegetable legend? It seems to be an article of faith on the left that it was an evil plot by the Regan administration to cut school lunch budgets, but that's so over-the-top as to be implausible to me. It reminds me a lot of that hamburger-flipper-as-manufacturing-job canard from a couple of years ago. I was able to find the original source for that, but I've never been able to get to the bottom of the ketchup thing.

B Bob writes:

Unpoliced comments are bad. I think we have the best comment policing strategy, which is to warn commmenters who are getting too personal and, if they fail to adjust, banning them. My theory is that for every bad commenter you ban, several good commenters come out of the woodwork.

Really? I think policing comments is the bad thing, since people use it as an excuse to silence their opponents in arguments and generally make asses of themselves. Just ask Jeff Tucker about censoring blog posts he disagrees with. :)

B Bob wrote:

I think policing comments is the bad thing, since people use it as an excuse to silence their opponents in arguments

Since I'm the one who does the policing, and since Arnold's original remark primarily complimented me, I can speak to this good point. We try to avoid the opponent-banning tendency by focussing on some specific bad behaviors that seem to be equally distributed across the argument spectrum.

The number one reason for warning and banning EconLog commenters has been for making repeated ad hominem attacks rather than focussing on content. Personal attacks on other commenters are highly correlated with an angry, belittling tone that usually elicits responses in kind, causing the whole thread to spiral into a focus on name-calling one-upsmanship instead of on the content of the argument.

EconLog is committed to providing a civilized space for rational debate and discussion. Disagreement is welcome. It is most assuredly welcome when it comes from a well-thought-out position of opposition.

I have never banned anyone for disagreeing with the points of view expressed by Arnold, Bryan, or other commenters. In fact, because opponents of the posts may on average self-select to not feel comfortable contributing here, in general I've bent over backwards to retain and reassure some of those commenters with whom I most disagree.

We've also banned people for a number of other infractions, such as failing to give their working email addresses. (We do random email checks and we ban if there is no response.) Occasional use of expletives or sexual innuendo is not necessarily a bannable offense, though the person may get a warning if the use is gratuitous or angry in tone. Sometimes these uses are forms of humor. We want to encourage humor! But, when humor relies on four-letter words and innuendo it walks a fine line and catches my attention because those very words are also typically used in angry, ad hominem assaults.

Two side-notes:

  • Having a third party--not one of the bloggers--doing the policing helps keep the policing objective.

  • I've been asked once in email to ban a commenter for not toeing a libertarian line and for not understanding the arguments made by my emailer. I told the emailer that he was free to choose his own venue for commenting, free to ignore the commenter about whom he was complaining, and free to clarify his argument to address that commenter. The emailer chose to quit; and EconLog was the better for it. I find it footnote-worthy that the only request I've ever received in the last four years to ban a commenter on content-oriented grounds came from someone claiming to be libertarian.

Lauren Landsburg
Editor, Library of Economics and Liberty

Just ask Jeff Tucker about censoring blog posts he disagrees with. :)

Don't know Mr. Tucker, but look what happened to Semi-Daily Journal's popularity when Brad DeLong got aggressive in banning commenters who disagreed with him. A couple of years ago almost everyone would have said he had one of the top three econblogs. In response to Megan's questions today, almost no one mentioned him.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top