The Greaney Goons have in recent weeks taken the Campaign of Terror that they have used to destroy numerous Retire Early/Indexing boards in recent years to the Blogosphere. Several blog authors have responded by shutting down the ability of constructive posters to offer their thoughts rather than by banning only the Goons from further participation in the discussions that blog readers with good intent are seeking to have amongst themselves. I think this is a mistake.
Mike, author of the Quest for Four Pillars blog, came to the aid of the community that congregates at the Plonkee Money blog when that community recently came under attack.
Juicy Excerpt: I wouldn’t let one or two “readers” tell me what to do.
If you have read any of Rob’s other guest posts then you will see that Wiser Investor follows him around and leaves the same sort of negative comments. I doubt Wiser Investor is a regular reader of your blog.
I put up a follow-up post pointing out that the desires of the community as a whole should take preference over the small number of highly abusive posters who have burned numerous Retire Early/Indexing boards to the ground solely because Greaney has not been willing to acknowledge getting an important number wrong in a study that people use to plan their retirements and that the communities congregating at these boards have shown great interest in learning more about the realities of safe withdrawal rates (SWRs).
Juicy Excerpt: Take a look at the site linked to above and ask yourself whether any of your friends would want to be associated in any way, shape or form with the sorts of individuals who would create such a site and then link to it as if they were proud of it. If you conclude that none of your readers would want to be associated with these sorts of individuals, I think it would be fair to say that you have a responsibility to protect your readers from them. Do an effective job of protecting your readers, and I am confident that you will have no problem keeping happy all those you want to keep happy.
Plonkee sent me a gracious e-mail apologizing and agreeing with Mike that it was unlikely that the Goons were regular readers of his blog. He told me that he closed comments on the blog entry to prevent further attacks on his community. Set forth below are the words that I wrote in response:
“Thanks for your note. It’s clear that you are trying to do the right thing and I am of course grateful for that.
“I’m sorry that you had to be exposed to this ugliness. Like you, I am someone who very much does not like seeing friction between people evidence itself. I believe strongly that your basic instinct is a good one.
“On a lot of the issues we consider on our blogs, there is no one “correct” position. We’re just setting up places for people to get together and talk things over. I think that our job as moderators is to police things so that people feel free to put forward their sincere thoughts but also so that those thoughts are always expressed in civil and reasonable ways.
“I doubt that there were others who were going to contribute constructively at this point since the blog entry had been up for some time. So I don’t see any real harm in closing comments on it. As a general rule, though, I think it is a bad thing when people close comments because of a few troublemakers because that encourages the troublemakers to do more of their dirty work while leaving the people who are trying to have learning experiences out in the cold. I think that the far better approach is to delete the posts of those who are seeking to stir up trouble while leaving those who are seeking to make positive contributions free to continue to do so for so long as they are willing to do so.
“I believe that the blog entry was a learning experience for a good number of people. I am grateful that you provided the opportunity to make it happen. I hope that we will have more positive interactions in future days. My view is that the good stuff has effects for a long time to come while the ugly stuff gets blown away in the wind. The vast majority are trying to accomplish good stuff and we need to support each other to build up our courage to do what we need to do to deal effectively with the small number who have less positive ideas about how to make use of their life energy.
“I wish you continued success with your blog.”
Be prepared, fellow blog authors — your community may be the next target of the Greaney Goons!
Today’s Passion: In an earlier blog entry, I offered some tips to John Bogle on how to deal with the Goons who burned the Vanguard Diehards board to the ground (Bogle is the founder of Vanguard and the Diehards board was once widely recognized as the most exciting investing board on Planet Internet).