David R. Henderson  

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Bryan Caplan has already blogged about the debate between Paul Krugman and Steve Landsburg. I have nothing to add to the substantive issue debated. But I do have four things to add:
1. Notice that Krugman, in a later post, to his credit, admits Landsburg's point.
2. Notice also that Landsburg graciously accepts Krugman's concession.
3. Read through, on both Landsburg posts, all of Steve's responses to various commenters. Steve is fair and accepting. This is Steve Landsburg at his best and it reminds me of Milton Friedman at his best.
4. Read through the comments on Krugman's second post. I got through the first 25. See if you can find any of them acknowledging that Krugman had conceded Landsburg's point. I'm not saying none of the first 25 saw it; I'm saying that none of the first 25 saw fit to say, even in a sentence, that Landsburg had won the debate on the big issue.

See here for Steve Landsburg's recap.

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
Yancey Ward writes:


I think a blogger has three basic options when he blogs and allows comments- (1) he/she can allow comments but moderate them- removing irrelevant ones, erroneous ones, and leave substantive ones, both pro and con; (2) engage the commenters actively, like Landsberg does, and Scott Sumner, or Robert Murphy (just to pick three examples); or (3) perform no real moderation, and don't engage the commenters either. Krugman seems to follow the last of these three, and I think the quality of comment section of his blog reflects that. One can, of course, combine 1 and 2, and some do- this blog seems to be such an example. I pretty much won't read the comment sections of blogs that follow route three- they are pretty much sewers of thought.

Bob Murphy writes:

That's an interesting observation, Yancey. I had never thought of it like that.

I am aghast at actually deleting people's comments. I think I've done it something like 10 times in 3 years of having my blog. (It's got to be a racial slur or something really over the top.) In the beginning I was worried that if a few people wanted to be obnoxious, it would scare everyone else away.

But that didn't happen (or at least, there are a sufficient number of people immune to obnoxiousness), and I think you're right, it's because I frequently "pop in."

I think there is some phenomenon at work here, just not sure what it is. The commenters know I won't zap them, so it's not that they stay on good behavior for that reason.

david writes:

@Bob Murphy -

You have low traffic, and so nobody's particularly interested in trolling your blog. You may think you've seen rude comments, but it can get a lot worse and a lot more persistent, believe me.

And it's not just you who has to tolerate it; everyone else who follows your comments does, too. And there are trolls who love such an audience. Consider yourself saved by low readership.

It was once a well-kept garden of intelligent discussion, where knowledgeable and interested folk came, attracted by the high quality of speech they saw ongoing. But into this garden comes a fool, and the level of discussion drops a little - or more than a little, if the fool is very prolific in their posting. (It is worse if the fool is just articulate enough that the former inhabitants of the garden feel obliged to respond, and correct misapprehensions - for then the fool dominates conversations.)

So the garden is tainted now, and it is less fun to play in; the old inhabitants, already invested there, will stay, but they are that much less likely to attract new blood. Or if there are new members, their quality also has gone down.

Then another fool joins, and the two fools begin talking to each other, and at that point some of the old members, those with the highest standards and the best opportunities elsewhere, leave...


Vacslav writes:

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Bob Murphy writes:

"Low traffic"?! I quite possibly have the 75th most popular libertarian blog in the world. When they gave Conan the boot, they actually were in talks with me as a replacement. What are you talking about? People should be honored to troll my blog.

Anyway thanks for the observation. By the same token, feel blessed that you're not dating anyone attractive. It's annoying when guys hit on your date. (NOTE: I have as much knowledge of whom you date, as you do of my blog traffic, I imagine.)

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