Josh Brown of The Reformed Broker was discussing some of the more nasty comments sections on the internet (I won’t name names) and it got me thinking about why I run this site and how I run it. I’ve always had a strict one strike policy on comments here at Pragcap. I hate seeing people denigrating each other or the authors (especially yours truly – actually, I deserve it a lot of the time so have at it!). But what really bothers me is how this takes away from the general goal of the website which is to help people better understand the investment world, finance and money. When you allow petty conversations to rule the website you detract from an environment that is intended to foster learning. It’s a lot like letting kids talk in class. It just can’t happen.
And that got me thinking about why blogs are often so much more attractive than mainstream media sites. The MSM sites are in it for the profits. That’s really all there is to it. And they drive profit by driving traffic to the site. So controversy is often a big part of the game to drive traffic. The more controversial something is the more traffic it will garner, the more conversation it will attract, etc. If you waste your time writing articles about the monetary system and the comments are mostly just a few nerds trying to hash out the details then you don’t get the page views (being the chief nerd, I speak from experience here). I know what drives traffic to a website and I made a decision a long time ago that this website wasn’t going to be nothing but a traffic whore based on articles about politics, gold, Apple, porn and conspiracy theories about the national debt and Federal Reserve. No, I was going to try to teach people something important about money, finance and the investment world. In other words, my goal wasn’t to drive the bottom line of the website (which, trust me, isn’t anything that I will retire off of). My goal was also to inform. Yes, there are intangible benefits from running the site, but I think this is one key area where blogs really trounce the MSM. There’s an element of the little guy being there for the rest of the little guys. I might not know many you, but I do care. And the things I write about are things I think are influencing all of your lives in some fashion. Not just things I want to jam down your throat so I can drive traffic.
Granted, there’s all sorts of potential negatives about blogs. The writing is often worse (I am a terribly writer) and we often make mistakes that professional journalists just don’t make (checking sources is one point here). But I think you get a certain sense of authenticity and caring at blogs that you don’t get at MSM sites. And I think the financial blogosophere is particularly unique in the internet because some of the people writing are masters of their domain. There are lot of professionals in the field of finance and economics who spend big chunks of their time blogging. That’s incredible. And the best part is if you don’t like something you just exit it. What a valuable educational resource the internet has become.
Anyhow, I am rambling and I am obviously biased in my opinion here, but I think this is one of the key reasons why people are gravitating increasingly towards blogs with time. It’s not just about the bottom line for most bloggers. It’s about something more. That’s the way capitalism should be.