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Why end the comments?

By Chris | October 18, 2007

Greg Mankiw removed the comments section from his blog. He explained why:

“I just don’t have the time to police comments and enforce good behavior, especially since some posts were generating more than 100 comments. And I don’t want to host a party in which a small vitriolic minority consistently tries to ruin the event for everyone else.”

As a regular reader of the blog I was very disappointed. Dr. Mankiw mentioned the popularity of the blog earlier in his explanation and it seems that he is concerned that the comments section somehow reflected on himself. While this may be true to a certain extent (you wouldn’t want obscene material in the section) people are well aware that comments are open to the public and therefore bound to contain ideas and comments on the fringe of mainstream thought and etiquette. Is no discourse better than good discourse marginalized by a few posters? Hardly. Nevertheless, Dr. Mankiw bears the full cost of bad behavior on his reputation, while readers are the primary beneficiaries of this outlet for discussion. This is textbook market failure, ironically, plaguing an economist’s blog. My recommendation: place ads only on the comment pages and use the revenue to hire someone else to police the page.  Of course, Dr. Mankiw can do what he wishes with his own blog.  It just seems like there are better alternatives to going completely comment-free.

Topics: Blogosphere | No Comments »