Wow! Met Our Second Fundraising Target Quickly, on to the Third: Supporting the Comments Section

Thanks to the prompt responses of over 444 members of the Cfdtrade community, we’ve met our first target, an essenial budget for site improvements and IT support, and the second target, funding for meetups, travel, and related site coverage, with impressive speed.

Your donations are a statement that you value this community and want a better debate and a better society and are willing to invest to have us do more to make Cfdtrade an even more effective voice for you. If you haven’t had time to give yet, please visit our Tip Jar to support our efforts. Whatever you can give, whether $10 or $1000, helps us provide you with your daily diet of incisive commentary, analysis, news, and cute animal pictures, as well as a place to hang out with the like-minded.

And speaking of the like-minded…..

2017 is the first year that we have made support for the comments section a fundraising goal. As you know too well, we were forced to shut down comments for a time in August and September. Although we hated to do it, and didn’t take the decision lightly, comment management — both moderation, and commenting ourselves — was consuming too much in time and even more in scarce emotional resources, even with us having brought in Outis on a paid basis starting in January.

So if you appreciate the value of comments at Cfdtrade, feel free to skip the rest of this post, go straight to the Tip Jar which tell you how to give by check, credit or debit card. Contribute to maintaining intellectually stimulating, vigorous, informative, and often witty debates among members of the commentariat

Managing comments has always come at a cost, in the sense that Lambert and I historically took care of the process at the expense of other activities. The fact that we try to be as light-touch about it as possible doesn’t change the fact that it takes real effort. That does not mean just handling the moderation queue, setting up and tweaking the various rules (that sometimes, as you also know too well, operate in a Skynet-like manner, despite our best intent). That also means reading the comments, often multiple times a day, and wading in as necessary, sometimes to de-escalate fights, sometimes to act as referees on argumentation strategies, sometimes to clear up benign- or malign-looking mischaracterizations of what the posts or readers said. We also spend more time than you think in dealing with borderline comments. We often discuss those decisions together, and review a commenter’s history to see if he/she is just having an off day, or whether the comment under consideration is part of a not-good pattern that we’d missed, or for which we cut undue slack. And that’s before we get to trolling and non-organic drive-bys. (Skynet catches most bots, fortunately.)

This oversight cumulatively takes a lot of time but is a critical investment, since it helps keep the comments at a generally high level. Our efforts also help assure readers that they can express their views and supply important information as long as they adhere to guidelines meant to encourage not just communication but high standards of accuracy and rigor. In what is often a  fog of incomplete, mis-, and dis-information, the commentariat plays a crucial role in vetting what is presented as fact and testing the logic of arguments, including those of posts (as readers hopefully know, we work hard to be accurate and timely, but even we sometimes get it wrong and welcome corrections or additional information that fills in gaps in stories).

The proof of the success of this approach is the fact that we have a real community at Cfdtrade where many voices can and do express themselves, despite the widely-recognized deterioration of quality of discourse across the Web. Cfdtrade is even cited in journalism courses as an example of the sort of engaged audience that major media outlets think they want to have (and which they could have, if they’d stop toeing the line of important advertisers and elite interests). So to support these efforts, please give now. Whether it’s $5, $50, or $5000, all help meet our goals.

In the wake of the unexpected Trump win, successful emotional gaslighting by his opponents — not that Trump should go unopposed, but hitting identity politics hot buttons serves the useful purpose of keeping voters divided along demographic lines, when many of the groups have common cause on economic grounds — and a marked decline of reporting on multiple fronts, we’ve been even more stretched than before. Trump’s over-the-top, crude, deliberately provocative rhetoric sadly has often led his opponents to respond at his level, or uncomfortably close to it. And that sort of mud-slinging, even when there are real stakes, has also served to divert attention from major underlying economic issues like rising inequality. 1 (and let us also not forget that the media has often gone into high dudgeon mode over Trump moves that were repeats of what his predecessors, while neglecting moves his appointees have been making, particularly on the regulatory front).

Last year, we were able to afford Outis due to your generosity in responding when we were attacked by the Washington Post with its PropOrNot article, and asked for your help in mounting a legal defense. We promised that any funds not used for that purpose would go to original reporting.

We did in fact use a chunk of those proceeds for that purpose, and the rest of the monies went to support original reporting…but not in the way we’d thought. The moderation demands on Lambert and me had gotten so large that without enlisting Outis, we would have had to cut back on our own work. Because Outis solved our capacity problem, we’ve been able to continue at our earlier level as well as fund important stories, like paying for the analytical work by Michael Olenick in connection with CalPERS’ massive copyright fraud.

What you also may not realize is that Outis is a screaming bargain. We are embarrassed at how little he gets and you should be too. Mind you, even what we pay him does not cover the full costs of moderation. Things have gotten so intense that I’ve also been paying Lambert to do Links more often than in the past. We are delighted that Jules has joined us, but that mainly gives Outis badly deserved days off and let’s him turn in earlier too.

We have set a target of $17,500 which frankly only partly covers the cost of comments moderation. So please do your part and chip in pronto! The Tip Jar tells you how to give by check, credit or debit card. And if you do send a check, please send an e-mail to [email protected] with “Check is in the mail” in the subject line so we can include it in our running tally.

Again, please invest in the commentariat! This goal is for all of us!

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1 Let us also not forget that the media has often gone into high dudgeon mode over Trump moves that were repeats of what his predecessors have done, while neglecting moves his appointees have been making, particularly on the regulatory front.

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One comment

  1. WobblyTelomeres

    I seem to comment a lot. More than I should, I suspect. So..

    I sent in $11. Not much, but equal to my dues. Hope it helps!

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