Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
It’s ironic that so many of your blog posts are replies to comments that you would have certainly deleted if you could. Without Sammy Soda, the well would dried up by now.
I understand the point you are making and I half agree, Anonymous. But I also half disagree.
You are right that, if I were king of the world, I would delete the pure Goon stuff. I would not delete the posts in which you Goons put forward legitimate questions. I learn from those and those provide others the opportunity to learn; so those are a plus. But, yes, you are right that I would delete a good percentage of the Sammy posts at the Value Walk site if I were the site administrator there. They waste people’s time and they scare away people who would otherwise engage in interesting discussions. So I see those as a pure negative that should be deleted.
The reality is that I am not king of the world. Perhaps you’ve noticed! So Sammy gets to put his posts up at the Value Walk site whether I like the idea or not.
I could ignore them, right? I could just not respond.
I ignore some of them. When they get to be ridiculously repetitive or pointless, I ignore them. That happens.
I don’t like to ignore intimidation posts. The entire problem that we are facing developed because Normals got into the habit of ignoring intimidation posts put forward by you Goons. The idea is “this is ugly stuff and I would rather not get involved, I’ll let someone else deal with it.” There’s no one else here but us chickens, you know? When we don’t call people out on their intimidation tactics, those using intimidation tactics enjoy tactical victories. That encourages them to rely more heavily on intimidation tactics. So things get worse and worse over time instead of better and better. I see this as a “a stitch in time saves nine” sort of thing. Putting forth a little extra effort on the front end spares us needing to put forward a whole big bunch on the back end. I want to set a good example by responding in an appropriate way to intimidation posts. So I usually do that.
Sammy also puts forward a lot of posts that refer to incredible things like the threats directed to Wade Pfau. We need to get the word out about things like that. So I don’t favor the idea of ignoring those. If there are too many in a row, they get monotonous and I do ignore them. But my general feeling is that the people who opposed those tactics have nothing to be ashamed of and so we shouldn’t act like we are ashamed when the subject comes up. The fact that those seeking to defend Buy-and-Hold feel that they need to resort to such tactics says something about the level of confidence they feel re their strategy. I think we all should be trying to bring that out. So again I am reluctant to ignore too many of those when they pop up.
Sammy is just out to cause trouble. I suppose that he could be called a “troll.” So I wouldn’t object if most of his comments were deleted and, if I were in charge, I would indeed delete a good number of them myself. But, given that they appear, I think that it usually makes sense to respond to them. The fact that they appear and that lots of others don’t jump in and demand that they be removed tells us something about where we stand as a society re the Buy-and-Hold question. Buy-and-Hold was discredited by the peer-reviewed research 36 years ago. Why are we so tolerant of nasty posts aimed at “defending” it?
That’s not a Goon matter. It’s you Goons bringing the question to the surface. But it is the tolerance of the Normals for Goon behavior that really is the root cause of why we are in an economic crisis today. You Goons couldn’t get away with the tactics that you employ in any field of human endeavor other than investing analysis. Why are our collective standards so low in this one field that this sort of thing can continue to go on for so long?
That’s the real question at play. I respond to a lot of the comments because I am trying to become clearer in my head about all of the various aspects of that question and because I am trying to help others listening in both now and in future days to become clearer in their heads re these matters.
As distasteful as I find the pure Goon comments, I do sometimes learn from them. For so long as that is true, my guess is that I will continue to feel drawn to respond to them. We need to know with great clarity how we got into this situation so that we can be sure that we never in the future get into a similar situation. We all have a Get Rich Quick urge residing within us. It is just more dominant in you Goons. So I think that we all can learn by looking at the tactics you employ and by noting our own reluctance to respond to those tactics how our Get Rich Quick urge does us harm and what we need to do to overcome its pull.
I do NOT blame the 15-year cover-up solely on you Goons. You are the instigators of the bad stuff. You serve on the front lines. But you couldn’t get away with what you get away with without a lot of help from a lot of Normals and a lot of people in positions of responsibility (like site owners). A big part of this story is how so many good and smart people permitted the Goon phenomenon to continue for so long. I cannot tell this story completely and fairly and honestly without exploring that aspect of the question. So when it comes up, I make an effort to engage.
I hope that helps you to understand a little bit better what’s going on from my end of the table, Anonymous. You are right that I would delete a good percentage of Sammy’s posts. But the fact that they are not deleted by others tells us something important about why we are in an economic crisis today. We need to know everything we can know about what caused the economic crisis and about why as a society we permit it to continue to do so much damage. So I see it as my job not to duck those questions when they appear before me but to struggle to make some sense out of what is happening when your nasty work is permitted to disrupt conversations that good and smart people would like to be having amongst themselves.
Also, after 15 years of this, I have my doubts as to whether the well will ever dry up. If it wasn’t Sammy, it would be something else. Probably something better. But perhaps not, you know? Perhaps the Sammy question is the one that I should be focused on because it is so distasteful that no one else wants to deal with it. Perhaps figuring out what makes a Sammy or an Anonymous tick is the most important question on the table.
I don’t see it as my place to make a decision re that one way or the other. I let the world decide it for me. I aim to put up solid column entries and, if the world presents me with comments by Sammy, I do my best to respond to them in a way that helps us all understand a tiny bit better the stuff we need to understand to become better long-term investors. That’s my thing. So that’s what I do. I cannot help but speculate about the big picture at times. But I try to keep my eyes focused on what is in front on me and to trust the process (which is ultimately rooted in our economic and legal systems and culture) to bring things to a successful conclusion over time.
My best and warmest wishes to you and yours, my old friend.