Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
Since 2013, has Kevin invited you back for more columns?
I stopped the column. That wasn’t Kevin’s idea. Kevin loved the column and wanted it to continue. Kevin loved it so much that at one point he insisted on paying me a small amount for writing it. He would have continued accepting it if I had been willing to continue writing it.
I enjoyed writing it. I had become frustrated at the lack of comments that were being posted. In the early days, there were a good number of comments. The number dropped off and then eventually things got to a point where comments were rare.
I don’t often get comments at the Value Walk site either. But I wanted to continue writing one column because it forces me to continue thinking through all the implications of Shiller’s revolutionary findings. But I decided to cut back to one column per week (the third of the three columns that I once wrote ended when the site went out of business) and elected to end the column at Kevin’s site because his site is more similar to the many sites at which I have written guest blog entries. The Value Walk site is aimed at a different audience and so I felt that that was the one at which I should continue writing a column if I was only going to write one.
I cannot say for certain why the comments dropped off at Kevin’s site but I think I have a pretty good idea. People don’t like it when I use terms like “Goons” or “Wall Street Con Men” or “financial fraud.” My sense is that many Normals view my behavior in this area as somehow mean-spirited. I do not myself see it that way. I very much see the reality as being the opposite. It is my intent to HELP my Buy-and-Hold friends and so I see nothing even a tiny bit mean-spirited in anything I have done. I use terms like “Goons” because as a journalist I need to tell this story and the in a fair and complete way and the goonish behavior that inevitably follows from any criticism of the Buy-and-Hold Model is a big part of the story. I make special efforts to bend over backwards to evidence charity toward my Buy-and-Hold friends (hence, my warm sign-offs in all of my responses to you, Anonymous). But regardless of my intent re these matters, many Normals view my use of these terms as mean-spirited.
One of the columns at Kevin’s site had some language re Bogle that one fellow who commented took as mean-spirited. He defended Bogle. I made the usual point that I think Bogle is a genius and a hero to the middle-class and that I rank him as the second most important investing analyst of all time (Shiller being first). None of this impressed this fellow. I cannot remember precisely what I said about Bogle. My vague recollection is that I said that he was the person who played the biggest role in bringing on the economic crisis. We made our respective arguments and eventually the discussion came to an end. This fellow had commented before but he never came back to the column threads to comment again.
I am not saying that this one incident caused the comments to end at Kevin’s site. My impression is that it was numerous incidents along these same general lines that did the trick. Communities form at sites. The community at Kevin’s site was fine with Valuation-Informed Indexing. I don’t think that most community members were as excited about it as Kevin was. But they were fine with it. But they were not at all happy with my criticism of Bogle. And so one by one they dropped off. And at some point it became rare for comments to be posted there.
I believe that Kevin would be fine with the idea if I proposed writing more columns for him. I am not inclined to do that today. I suggested to him once that he write something about the entire Goon matter saying that he thinks it is awful and that the nastiness should stop and that other bloggers should step forward to speak out in opposition to the entire Campaign of Terror against me and against any board or blog that permits honest posting on the last 35 years of peer-reviewed research in this field. Kevin was sympathetic. He shares my views re the Campaign or Terror. But he believes that it is not possible to make progress until we see the next crash. So his preference is not to speak up or to ask others to speak up until after the crash hits.
I don’t agree with Kevin re this point. But I am sympathetic. I obviously get where he is coming from. His position is not too much different from Wade Pfau’s position (the biggest difference is that Wade is in a position of greater responsibility). I don’t agree with the position but I do posess some understanding of it. I cannot tell Kevin that he will not be put through holy hell if he states his views in a clear and firm and blunt way. I acknowledge that he probably would indeed be put through holy hell. I just don’t see how we can all move forward until a few of us agree to be put through holy hell. And I believe that the pioneers will see very big rewards for their courage once we all make it safely to the other side of The Big Black Mountain. So I would like to see Kevin step up to the plate. But I get it why he is reluctant to do so until after the crash hits.
I expect that I will write again for Kevin following the crash. If I don’t, he could of course use the old columns at his site at a time when I presume they will be much better received and will generate much more traffic and many more comments. I consider Kevin a friend and he considers me a friend. The only reason why we do not work together on a daily basis is these strange circumstances and the different conclusions that the two of us have come to re how to cope with them.
This experience with Kevin was one of the things that caused me to generally cut back on my social media efforts. It is emotionally disheartening to experience these kinds of reactions over and over again. I still write the one column and, if that were to end, I would seek to replace it; I think it is important that I continue developing my knowledge. But I haven’t written a guest post in some time or recorded a podcast in some time and I rarely do Twitter stuff related to these issues or whatever. That’s where things stand today. But I also took Kevin’s comments as a signal that things really are going to pick up following the crash. So that’s where I am placing most of my chips today. My primary efforts today are preparing for the post-crash time-period while still keeping my hand on things by writing the one column and participating in the Goon Conversations held here on an almost daily basis.
I hope that helps a tiny bit.