Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

08 May 2003, 12:55 p.m.

If J. Bradford DeLong is going to say that I…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2003 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

If J. Bradford DeLong is going to say that I have

smart views on why comments sections of weblogs (and everything else collective on the internet) tend to degenerate rapidly to USENET levels of chaos and unpleasantness without constant very heavy lifting by formal or informal moderators
then I should tell you that half of what I said to him was a summary and citation of Leonard's Tar Pit From Hell model.
when you add a public discussion forum to your site you are placing your site on a big slab of plexiglass which floats around on the Tar Pit From Hell. As long as no one actually uses the discussion forum, you are safe. But the more people pile on to use the discussion forum, the deeper your site sinks into the Tar Pit From Hell. There are various measures you can take to slow your descent into the Tar Pit From Hell, but none of them deal with the fundamental problem, which is the fact that your site is sinking into a [expletive] tar pit.

The only other interesting thing I recall saying about discussion forums: the people you want to keep from commenting are people with more time on their hands than is good for them.

DeLong actually does talk the way he writes, throwing around words like "marginal." This is no surprise to those who have read A Brief Dialogue on Behavioral Economics or his conversations with his children.

Now I've been cited by two of the most famous Berkeley bloggers: Professor DeLong and Eve of InPassing. I can move to SF happy.