The Secrets of Commenters & Comment Readers on WOLF STREET (and the Entire Financial Media)

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The surprising numbers!

The other day, I posted an article encouraging our readers to check out our amazing comment section. It received over 100 comments that included a discussion of an issue I’d triggered, and that we could not resolve. Now I found the answer.

I claimed – based on my vague memory of a Guardian report I’d read a couple of years ago but could no longer find – that only about 10% of the readers actually dared to go south and venture into the unknown territory of comments, where all kinds of surprises and mayhem might lurk.

This triggered a number of responses and sent some helpful commenters and me into a renewed search for this Guardian report – which remained elusive.

But I ran into a related paper from academia, authored by Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, Assistant Director of Research at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, and Director of the Engaging News Project at the University of Texas at Austin – which also happens to be where, back in the day, I got my MBA.

So I contacted Talia. She graciously sent me a 21-page paper, News Commenters and News Comment Readers, which she, Emily Van Duyn, and Cynthia Peacock had authored earlier this year. It contains a massive amount of data. I’ll drill down into a few highlights that are relevant to us.

The data for the study is based on a representative random sample of Americans, undertaken by the US consumer division (formerly Knowledge Networks) of GfK Group, a global market research firm headquartered in Germany.

Very broadly, across all digital spaces (including news, social media, entertainment, products or services review sites, etc.), according to this study:

  • 77.9% of Americans read some an online comments at some point.
  • 55.0% posted a comment at least once.
  • 53.3% did both, read comments and posted comments.
  • 20.2% did neither.
  • 24.6% read comments but didn’t post any.
  • 1.7% posted comments without reading any comments.

Commenting and reading comments is not equally distributed: People read and post comments much more on social media sites than on “news” sites. And these “news” sites weren’t exactly like WOLF STREET. The top news sources that respondents cited in this study for posting and reading comments were:

  1. Your local newspaper
  2. Your local TV news sites
  3. Fox news
  4. CNN
  5. Huffington Post
  6. Buzzfeed
  7. New York Times

Of the total population in the study:

  • 35% said they read comments on news sites, but didn’t post comments
    • 17% “a few times a month” at the most.
    • 18% at least “weekly,” including every day.
  • 14% said they posted comments on news sites
    • 10.5% “a few times a month” at the most.
    • 3.5% at least “weekly,” some every day.
  • 50.7% neither read nor posted comments on news sites

But these “news” sites cover all aspects of news, including sports, entertainment, politics, and what not. Business, finance, and economics are for them an afterthought. But that’s just about the only thing WOLF STREET gets into.

And so when it comes to business and finance, commenting and reading comments gets a lot thinner still.

In terms of reading comments: Of all the news categories, “business and finance” ranked nearly at the bottom, with only 19.9% of the people reading comments. Only “other” was lower. The top was “US politics or domestic policy.”

In terms of posting comments: Of all the news categories, “business and finance” ranked at the very bottom with 11.3% of the readers posting comments.

So we’re going to extrapolate from here, even if it takes us out on statistically thin-ish ice.

As mentioned above, 35% of the population in the study read comments on news sites, from rarely to daily. That includes all kinds of news stories. But only 19.9% of those 35% read comments on business and finance stories: so 7% of the total population in the study read comments on business and finance stories!

If this is true for WOLF STREET, only 7% of our readers are venturing into our awesome comments. The rest are missing out.

By the same measure, 14% of the population in the study said that they posted comments on news sites, on all kinds of news articles. Of them, however, only 11.3% posted comments on “business and finance” stories. So only 1.6% of the total population in the study posted comments on business and finance stories!!

So if this is true for WOLF STREET….

Ha, here I can do my own calculus, by looking at a fairly representative example. I posted the article, Why Hanjin’s Zombie Collapse Won’t Be the Last One, about a week ago. By now it has been viewed 7,296 times (which is fairly typical; our top articles have been viewed over 40,000 times). And it picked up 72 comments (higher than the recent average).

But six prolific commenters posted a total of 36 comments – half of the total! If the remaining commenters posted one comment each, the article would have 42 commenters. In other words, 0.6% of the people who viewed the article posted a comment.

And here’s why, according to the study, people take the time to post often detailed and thoughtful comments on news articles (multiple responses permitted):


And the corollary: Here’s why people avoid reading comments (multiple responses permitted):


This study confirms just how rare and special commenters are on business and finance sites!

I’ll close with a story. Yesterday at my swim club, one of the members, who has been a reader of WOLF STREET for a long time, told me that he had a “blast” reading it that morning. He’d discovered the comments for the first time and could barely wrest himself loose.

So here’s my original article that had triggered this whole quest for answers. Read… Dear Reader, Are You Missing Out on Our Comments?

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  101 comments for “The Secrets of Commenters & Comment Readers on WOLF STREET (and the Entire Financial Media)

  1. Donny
    September 24, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    I didnt venture to the comments section until I read that article you linked at the bottom. Past experience with other alt-news sites such as 0-hedge had tainted my view of what anonymous people might have to offer. I was pleasantly surprised at the knowledge, literacy and manners displayed in the comment on wolfstreet!

    • September 24, 2016 at 9:23 pm

      Thanks, Donny, for joining the community!

      • KA
        September 28, 2016 at 1:52 pm

        Only the best Financial website in da World, Thanks Wolf!

    • RhubardRhubarb
      September 25, 2016 at 12:07 am

      Yes, I agree with Donny. Your audience reflects the high standard of your articles, which are demonstrably well researched, well constructed and well written. Sometimes it would be difficult to add any salient comment without appearing as just venting, but your commentators often do manage to stretch the the purpose of your posts in an equally knowledgeable and respectful way. Win win all around. Stay the course and a big thanks.

    • Shawn
      September 25, 2016 at 11:30 am

      The way companies and government entities use Big Data these day precludes the possibility of commenting/blogging under ones own names. For example, I’ve been blogging since the birth of the Internet and I can still google those posts, that’s scary.

      • EK
        September 26, 2016 at 5:32 am

        Maybe, just dun want to leave any traces in the internet

  2. September 24, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    This makes interesting reading. I will start looking at your comments. Most of the comments I have read on other sites are a total time-waste.

  3. Michael Gorback
    September 24, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    19.9% of those who read business and finance stories comment on them.

    WolfStreet publishes business and finance stories.

    19.9% of WolfStreet readers comment on the stories.

    Not 7%, which is the fraction of all readers in all categories.

    • September 24, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      I don’t think I made this very clear in the text: all respondents in the study read all online sites, including news sites and all categories of topics within news sites (assumed by the report).

      But when it came to reading comments and posting comments on those sites, the percentages split off.

      So for example, there are 1,000 respondents. 100% of the respondents (=1,000) read news sites. Of them 35% read comments on news sites (= 350). Of those 350, 19.9% read comments on “business and finance” topics within news sites. So 69.65 people (=7% of 1,000).

      The assumption is that someone who reads the sports section also reads the business section, and thus WOLF STREET. And by extension, WOLF STREET readers read other things too and are on the social media etc.

      • steve brassey
        September 25, 2016 at 3:59 am

        All I know Wolf, is that those who know will not say. Those that do not know will talk until the cows come home. Very dangerous times.

  4. Danny M
    September 24, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Well Mr. Wolf Street, As for me, I just do not have the time to comment on all articles. But if the article really hits me, I do. Thanks for bringing this point to the fore.

  5. chris Hauser
    September 24, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    i comment because i am thinking, though it is not always apparent.

    occasionally, just to see if i can make a difference, without ever knowing if i do.

  6. Kevin
    September 24, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    I’m part of the 24%–almost all the time–until now. I read many of the comments but rarely post.

    I love the comments section here, and at ZH, and at DoctorHousingBubble. Very intelligent hombres and hombrettes on this site. At ZH they’re just hysterically funny, and at the Doc–lots of anectodal posts from folks on the ground.

    Wolf has some of the best analysis available anywhere. I really appreciate his work here very much. Can’t imagine how much time it takes to do the equivalent of a college-level thesis on this topic or that one every couple of days.

    Cheers to all, who make this site so enjoyable and informative for me.

    • MC
      September 25, 2016 at 1:54 am

      I occasionally visit Zero Hedge and once made the mistake of scrolling down too much while finishing reading an article, thus discovering they have a comment section. I read the first three comments and got out of there as fast as possible.

      I admit to have zero sense of humor and perhaps, had I scrolled down a little bit more, I would have found some thoughtful comment but those three comments seemed written by somebody who had skipped spelling lessons to read conspiracy theories already old when Martin Luther nailed his Thesis to the doors of Wittenberg Cathedral.

      • rich
        September 25, 2016 at 5:49 am

        ZH does seem to have the propensity to attract the Stormfront community to its comment section.

      • CrazyCooter
        September 25, 2016 at 1:15 pm

        ZH has changed a lot over the years. When they first came off blogspot … … they were not very popular (but growing) and the comments section was definitely more sophisticated. As they became more mainstream, the average intellect of commenters went down – and so did the comments.

        Do recall that in the early years, ZH was definitely more technical in their analysis/content (I often couldn’t keep up with the subject matter – which made it attractive). They even used to have a math captcha in order to comment (if you couldn’t do basic algebra – you couldn’t post LOL).

        But, eventually they opted for more page views, more ads, and so forth – and they are more Drudge like these days – but still do pretty good finance/banking/economic analysis.

        I used to post much more actively there, but now rarely do. There are still good commenters, don’t get me wrong, but many folks are just posting dribble that doesn’t add value or insight.

        As long as folks here on WS keep comments thoughtful, insightful, and relevant – it drives a dialogue that is self-reinforcing. And that makes it interesting. It can work in the opposite direction too, which I highlighted above.



        • Justme
          September 25, 2016 at 4:09 pm

          >>ZH was definitely more technical in their analysis/content

          I often wish that ZeroHedge would explain the trader-slang that they use all the time. I think most of the readers do not understand it. Thanks to Wolf and the other wolfstreet contributors for explaining technical stuff much better than ZH does.

          And, yes, both ZH and the comment section is now considerably lower quality than it used to be. But, I took a look today, and it appears that Sunday is the day that the kneejerk-oneliner-content-free-commenters are having a bit of a day off. I shall not speculate ass to what said commenters are doing today, but I have some suspicions.

        • Bryce Nelson
          September 25, 2016 at 5:03 pm

          Can confirm. Zerohedge used to be awesome for the comments sections. Now it is mostly drivel and I have stopped reading all comments on that site.

          Wolf Street has a rare and beautiful comment section. It is the most informative and civilized comment section that I have come across. I have a feeling though that if it gets too popular, the comments section will go downhill. It seems to be a recurring theme across the internet. Trolls never seem to sleep.

  7. Chicken
    September 24, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    I have no comment, just a link to share with the community.

    • Marty
      September 24, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      Hey, Chicken, do no evil.

      The darth vader of silly-con valley…

    • Green Rock
      September 26, 2016 at 7:03 am

      I haven’t used Google in years. Use
      Much better search engine.

      It’s really easy to make change when you just do it.

  8. Thomas Belstler
    September 24, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    I have discovered this blog relatively recently, about 6 or so months ago. I read or look over the topic every day. I am interested in a wide range of topics but try to keep a close eye on the subjects of economics and finance since those have a measurable impact on my life. Of all the blogs that I read, Mr. Richter’s is the one that I have the most confidence in since it has the least amount of ideology wrapped up in it. I also very much appreciate the fine job he does in checking the comments which makes the comments very readable unlike many unmoderated blogs that allow anyone to post anything in the comments section. I think that just reading the comments section of this blog is sometimes an education in and of itself. I do read several other blogs most of which present non-mainstream views of what is happening around the world.

    I no longer read or watch items 1 through 7. I have not read the NYT for decades nor have I watched CNN for a comparable length of time and I have never watched Fox. I do turn on the local news at the time I know the weather report is going to be on and when that is over I turn it off or switch channels to something worthwhile such as Nickelodeon, Toon or Disney.

    I read a number of foreign news sources. Two from Britain, two German dailies, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten and Das Handelsblatt. I also read some non mainstream German newspapers and Magazines but have given up reading Der Spiegel since it became rabidly Russophobic. I skim English language editions of Fars news, Iraq News, Fort Russ, NEO news, RT English and RT Germany and sometimes take a quick glance at other sources. The Straits Times is a good source for Singapore and Asia. In addition, I have carefully selected twitter feeds that act like a filter and keep me up to date on political and other topics.

    Can you tell that I am retired and an information junkie?

    • September 25, 2016 at 12:12 am



    • RD Blakeslee
      September 25, 2016 at 8:29 am

      Along the lines of your selectivity (but not nearly so comprehensive – it just ain’t in ol’ 85-year-old me): I miss al Jazeera, am glad for RT on satellite.

      They both have more professionally presented news reporting than the cocktail party style glitz now affected by MSNBC, CNN, Fox (especially Fox), etc.

  9. BobT
    September 24, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    I always read Wolf with my breakfast here in SE Asia, my fave site. When Zero Hedge was new they had great informative comments but soon the loons took over. Wolf has had good comments since the Testosterone Pit days. Naked Capitalism has good ones too.

    Thanks Wolf, enjoyed seeing you for the first time on the Kaiser Report.

  10. ML
    September 25, 2016 at 12:15 am

    I think whether to comment or not boils down to what you are interested in. Unlike sport or the arts for example Business matters/news is a minority interest. Hence it is more likely to attract knowledgeable or wanting to become knowledgeable readers.

    If you have another more profitable outlet for your opinions, knowledge, etc then you are less likely to comment just anywhere for the sake of it.

    • OutLookingIn
      September 25, 2016 at 1:53 am

      ML – Agree.

      “comment just anywhere for the sake of it”.

      Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.

    • Petunia
      September 25, 2016 at 8:25 am

      I post here on financial topics and on other sites on politics and/or culture. It is getting harder to divorce the two, when there is clearly a political aspect and agenda to what is going on in the financial world.

  11. ML
    September 25, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Incidentally the survey data comprised 1471 people. I appreciate that statistics is fond of claiming representative sample as a means to justify exaggeration. To infer that 50% or so Americans do this or that should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    My money is on Trump winning or coming a close second!

    • September 25, 2016 at 8:19 am

      Yes, that’s always the problem with any survey. Grain of salt = great idea.

      BTW, they surveyed an additional 3,119 people to get enough news commenters. This is stated in the same paragraph where the 1,471 figure is explained. The way I read it, the survey took place in two stages:

      Stage 1: they surveyed a random sample of 1,011 Americans. After they looked at the results, they realized they didn’t have enough news commenters in the survey.

      Stage 2: they surveyed another 3,119 people to get an additional 460 news commenters.

      Stage 1 (1,011) and stage 2 (460 news commenters) combined added up to 1,471 surveys used.

      • RD Blakeslee
        September 25, 2016 at 8:38 am

        One of the shortcomings of sampling is the degree to which refusal to participate skews the results. For example, there is speculation in the popular press that Trump supporters are less likely to say what they think.

        There are also reports that pollsters are struggling with the problem, but it seems to me it will be tough to get right. After all, what you’re trying to discover is exactly what the refusers won’t say! How do you accurately infer it?

        • nhz
          September 25, 2016 at 11:58 am

          We have seen many times in Europe over the last few years that the polls for anti-establishment parties or politicians can be totally wrong. So either the pollsters and MSM are manipulating the data, or anti-establishment voters are afraid that their true opinions will be used against them; both would be a bad sign.

      • robt
        September 25, 2016 at 10:37 am

        I do have the feeling that the Wolf Street format, with articles that segue directly into comments with no input required such as hitting a ‘read comments’ button, invite the reading of more comments than the interpolation of other poll results would indicate. Actually, the comments are hard to ignore – at least the first few after the article. Also, the profile of your readership may indicate greater interest in the comments than is indicated by a general survey of readers of ‘all financial articles’ which appear in general publications and which are less focused on specific areas of interest.
        Making comments is a different issue, involving motivation, ability to expand on the content of the published article, etc etc. But you do make it easy to comment …

  12. shaba
    September 25, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Wolfstreet is one of the few sites where I look forward to reading the comments as so many meaningfully add to the discussion.

    • Mel
      September 25, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Wolf Street is unique in my experience as the place where I asked a question in comments and *got the answer I needed*. Wow.

  13. Alex
    September 25, 2016 at 12:45 am

    I think there lurks another reason that did not surface on in your artical for why people may avoid commenting.
    One must assume that despite the relative control that you (Wolf) have over your servers, that to determined enough state actors, all activity, and most definitely comments, can be aggregated and tied to identities.
    As such, commenting on sporting sites may be benign, but commenting on, disseminating and reinforcing data about financial and political issues, especially those that are negative, expose powerfull bad actors, or go against the state narrative of possitive conitions, is getting near and dear to those in control.

  14. September 25, 2016 at 1:07 am

    From Barcelona, in Catalonia, I read everyday your posts and the related comments. It’s my best source of the financial-economic world. Congratulations.

  15. Veblen
    September 25, 2016 at 2:38 am


    Long time reader, first time poster. Since I’m taking the time to post a reply now, allow me to compliment you on your really excellent website and your very insightful articles and authors.

    Having said that, I frequently lurking through the comments. I don’t post because (for me at least) it takes a great deal less effort to lurk than coming up with original thoughts and producing a coherent comment.

    It’s much easier to browse than attempt to contribute in a meaningful way. No point saying something if you can’t add to the discussion – otherwise it’s just noise, and makes everyone else’s life more tedious :)

  16. IanCad
    September 25, 2016 at 3:13 am

    A website as good as yours will naturally attract only the best and brightest!!
    Such readers are not shrinking violets; They will post, and read the comments.

  17. John
    September 25, 2016 at 3:59 am

    I regularly read the comments as well as the articles, due to the quality of input and often, insight of the commenters, as well as for the quality of the articles themselves.
    I rarely comment, as economics and its effect on society / politics, for me is a field of interest, rather than one of expertise or close observation.
    Mostly, I prefer to be silent and risk being thought an idiot, rather than proving it as a fact.

    John in Indy

  18. Noord
    September 25, 2016 at 4:51 am

    I visit sites like ZH, iBankcoin, automatic earth and Wolf Street very often and when I read an article, I always read the comments too. In my opinion the comments on Wolf Street are by far the most civilized, intelligent and of the highest quality. My compliments to you, Mr Richter and to your commenters!

  19. rich
    September 25, 2016 at 5:41 am

    Hmmm, no mention of the apparent gender gap in most comments sections.

    • September 25, 2016 at 7:45 am

      There’s a HUGE gender gap (and age gap too) in readers of financial sites. The commenters reflect that, plus some.

      • Green Rock
        September 26, 2016 at 7:12 am

        Many comment sections are too “locker room” for diverse posting….ZH, Silverdoctors, are a few of those.
        Also, I agree with the above poster who cited privacy as a reason for not posting. It’s too bad we have to include emails. The captcha weeds out machines….I think posts would be extremely interesting if no identity was required.

        • September 26, 2016 at 8:18 am

          On WS, you can sign in with an anonymous or even fake email. We don’t check. And we don’t care.

    • joel
      September 25, 2016 at 8:03 am

      That would be interesting to me. I wonder if Talia’s paper cites gender gap. Some areas of cyber space are risky for women to comment in, notably the geek/gaming blogs. There is a piece in yesterday’s Salon, , “Trainwreck” about what has happened to women who have stepped out of line.

      • September 25, 2016 at 8:52 am

        Talia’s paper dives into gender, race, age, education, and income for “news” sites in general, but not for the subcategory, “business and finance.”

        Her table with percentages is on page 6:

        However, for the subcategory that I focused on – “business and finance” – the paper does not split out those divisions.

        According to the table, in terms of news sites in general, the gender gap can get pretty significant for frequent commenters (64.4% male v 35.6% female).

        But the gap gets much larger for financial sites for this reason: Readers of financial sites are largely male (80% sticks to my mind). This is also reflected in the comments, on top of the normal gender gap in commenting.

        • Joel
          September 25, 2016 at 9:56 am

          Thanks for the page ref.
          I notice they break out gender only overall. A gender breakout of all the other categories would be interesting. That they don’t do that suggests to me the reticence/fear women often have of making too much of gender. What other division of humans is more significant?

          By the way I mispoke earlier, I read Wolfstreet third, after the weather and Naked Capitalism. IMO Yves Smith is the most essential blogger in the area of economics/politics. One reason is that she often cites Wolfstreet Maybe I’ll inquire of Lambert over there if he thinks having a woman at the top affects their gender gap

        • September 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

          I think you’re right concerning the smaller gender gap at Naked Capitalism. Just a gut feeling.

          She invited me to her two meet-ups in San Francisco, which were great, BTW. Lots of interesting people. There were quite a few women there, but it seemed men were in a big majority.

        • Justme
          September 25, 2016 at 4:21 pm

          Wolf, I wanted badly to go to that meetup NC in SF, but I could not make it. If you see Yves again, can you please ask her to unblock me :-) I made the mistake of making one slightly off-the-cuff or maybe too tangential remark once, and since that I have been in moderation hell. If you have the time to help a poor sod :-). I dont seem to be able to get through to NC administrators.

        • September 25, 2016 at 5:14 pm

          Are you posting at NC under the same email you used here? If yes, please confirm. If no, please contact me via email (“Contact us” tab).

        • Justme
          September 25, 2016 at 7:08 pm

          Thanks, Wolf! Yes, the very same email I use here.

        • September 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm

          I passed on your message.

  20. Kevin Beck
    September 25, 2016 at 6:09 am

    This brings out some real opinions.

    For my part, I will avoid commenting when it would be redundant or when the comments posted are beyond misinformed (=having no relevance to the original post or topic of discussion). I also try not to post misinformation myself, but will post unsubstantiated information (which is what the article that framed this subject was, until the information was filled in by the researchers at University of Texas). I have no objection to posting rumors that make sense to me, even so-called “conspiracy theories,” if it’s something I am passionate about, since such theories are starting to make more sense than “official explanations” more and more today. I also will not post to any discussion board that requires signing in with Facebook, since I might be the only person left that never had and still doesn’t have a Facebook account.

    And I don’t post comments anonymously.

    • Petunia
      September 25, 2016 at 8:14 am

      You are not the only person without a FB account. They and the others like them are data mining comments/accounts to sell your information. I find that they are also pushing agendas and curate their postings/comments to that end. The Huffington Post is the poster child of liberal politics and censorship.

      Your comment about posting anonymously has a gender component you may not be aware of. Many women on the internet, and those that post as women, tend to attract unwanted attention. I think you can figure out all the unpleasant aspects associated with that.

      • ML
        September 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm

        I am not on FB. I used to have a twitter account but rarely tweeted; also it concerned me that amongst the getting on for 100 followers I amassed were quite a few of my clients whom I was concerned would be concerned I would be tweeting instead of getting on with doing their work!
        As for linked in, i am not looking for a job or to be headhunted. Or as I mentioned to a friend who has high level security clearance for hus work yet his cv is on LI isn’t there a risk of him being kidnapped?

        I admit to being on motleyfool but hardly anyone there takes me seriously and i am barred from posting on the joke bosrd.

    • RD Blakeslee
      September 25, 2016 at 8:44 am

      Oh, how I agree re Facebook!

      Zuckerberg can get build his empire on the bodies of somebody else, thank you!

      Also agree re anonymity.

  21. keith
    September 25, 2016 at 6:24 am

    Great sites like this will attract better educated commentators. So I value comments here more than many locations. Praise KEK.

    • RD Blakeslee
      September 25, 2016 at 8:52 am

      One caveat: Some education ain’t formal.

      Someone once said :There are no such things as teachers. Only students.

      Case in point: Longshoreman Erik Hofer.

  22. nhz
    September 25, 2016 at 7:20 am

    IMHO it just shows that Wolfstreet attracts a very specific audience, that is not representative for the US (fortunately …) or even people with a general interest in business/economics.

    It is not unlike what I see with blogs in my own language that deal with similar topics and where comments are usually interesting and civilized. Comments on other – far more popular – news/politics blogs can be so uncivilized that most of you would gladly hide in the 0-hedge comments section; plus often it’s impossible to even understand what people are saying due to the bad and rude language …

    BTW, it’s not the same as commenting but when looking at ratings on e.g. Amazon I noticed that books on investing and the economy tend to get very high ratings (even if they are worthless dribble …) while with other subjects I’m interested in the ratings are usually all over the place. Maybe the public interested in business/investing is a bit special after all; or maybe those who sell these business books are better at manipulating the ratings ;-(

    • RD Blakeslee
      September 25, 2016 at 8:57 am

      Ratings in the arts are unreliable, IMO. After all, they depend mostly on subjective opinions – there is rarely any data to present.

    • Petunia
      September 25, 2016 at 9:10 am

      I read a lot of finance and economics, while it can get very repetitive, I find most books have something new to offer. Some authors, like Charles Gasparino, I read for what he will not say. Omission can be very instructive.

    • nhz
      September 25, 2016 at 11:54 am

      in hindsight, maybe those investment book ratings are tweaked by Amazon on behalf of Wall Street (to get everyone hooked on the stock market), just like they tweaked the ratings for Hillary’s book ;-)

  23. joel
    September 25, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Well, you got me, I must offer a comment. Wolfstreet is my first read after the weather. I read the weather first because it’s not as likely to announce the collapse of anything.

  24. RD Blakeslee
    September 25, 2016 at 9:03 am

    To me, this blog presents solid information and sound (read “I agree” I’m a pessimist, too) analysis of what we might call mega-sociopolitical economics.

    My posts are generally how I think one might deal with the consequences of it (mostly by avoidance) personally, micro-economically.

  25. Curt
    September 25, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I have been reading wolfstreet for years, and the first thing I noticed was the comments. It’s fascinating to see how people interpret the information presented in an article. In the early years it was definitely Hardline capitalists with a flare of distrust for the state. I would say that type of readers has been watered down as the readership has increased. Now we have a mix of ancaps, libertarians, confused right leaning business class, hard statist, minor socialists and last and definitely least the extremely confused Communist. It is the last few in that list who I love reading the comments from the most. Even with that mix the comments have always been civil and not argumentative between the commenters.
    As a Canadian in BC I also find the amount of non American topics satisfying and rare. Here’s to the housing bubble, will it blow who knows…..

  26. AcupunctureWorks-Get it
    September 25, 2016 at 9:35 am

    The reason the comments here are so entertaining and informative is that people who just want to post that they agree with someone, do not bother. The people who have something relevant and interesting to say do comment here, while people like me, who specialize in other topics, like health issues, do not post our limited information on the economy.

    I am in the natural health field and hate reading comments about herbs or health topics from people who just have a small amount of info and post as if they are an expert.

    Love this site. I come here regularly to read great articles and comments!

  27. robert sills
    September 25, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Wolf – it appears the main reason for leaving a comment is to express an opinion or emotion. I read your site for your insights. I don’t care about other’s opinions or emotions.
    i trust that if a reader really has a good, new, insight that you will take it into consideration.
    keep up the good work!

  28. Winston
    September 25, 2016 at 10:33 am

    10.6% comment “To see how others react” also known as “trolling.” Interesting that it’s 1 in 10. That’s a LOT higher than I’d have guessed it would be.

  29. KM Tang
    September 25, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Thanks Wolf you analysis gives good insights. Main stream media commenting is a waste of time. In many articles there are hidden agenda and the writer at times write because it is his job to “write” correctly or other wise he looses his job. Many not be that obvious in US. But emerging countries many.
    The collection of articles and news in your site has quality, good content , analytical and many contributors are very knowledgeable in the subject area. We as reader are very happy to learn. Where the subject matter is close to our heart or that we have some news to add or are familiar topics we are happy to contribute the two cents worth. So some of us perhaps may not contribute comments to those articles. Like others I gather useful insights reading and participating. I thank you for the hard work. You know in my country you can try setting any web sites. Be it ecommerce, news etc etc. Soon you close. You die of boredom.

  30. kitten lopez
    September 25, 2016 at 11:29 am

    good morning you all! it’s funny how you, Wolf, are struggling to UNDERSTAND what you have accidentally grown here with this site. you can’t. don’t try. this is the art and magic part. the spell you have cast. there are no data points to capture so you can understand and duplicate or control what you’ve got. you’ve started your own scene and i wouldn’t be surprised if a small convention or gathering evolved out of this eventually because when Petunia and Chris focused me and helped Michael in the comment discussions for this post , i knew you had something pretty rare and powerful.

    Petunia gave me the upnod, the confirmation i needed to keep going with my specific idea, and Chris from Dallas totally fucking FOCUSED me like a coach turning gelatinous goo into DEFINITION. i don’t know how else to explain it, but it’s powerful stuff we NEED beyond the chatter and ideas.

    i’ve never seen a comment section walk off the screen and into my real life beyond making me want to vomit and despair. to do the OPPOSITE? i’ve been quickly “lurking” here when i can, but i’ve been busy and focused and plotting my next steps.

    because THAT’s the thing, right? when you’re not working for someone and allowing yourself to be told what to do, you can get slippery and vague on yourself and that’s deadly. i’ve made arrangements with others regarding the little and big mega things. James even noticed my megalomania is back.

    i didn’t want this to be long. i have a ton of work to do. but i see these posts on trying to understand the magic you’ve got here as also little sweet requests to tell you how beautiful your eyes are and so yes! this IS as amazing as you’re feeling because i know this is a money site, but you’re VERY much in the “mystical.” i knew that from jump. and i’m not gonna pretend that being an entrepreneur and facing fears and terror isn’t that different from fighting for your life or your hymen in an alleyway. dulled animal senses come alive. inexplicable senses. you become feral again. alive.

    as an artist i FEEL it. not just from Petunia or Chris from Dallas. look at how Chris from Dallas reacted to Michael and me? beautifully and lovingly paternal AND i can tell he knows how to conduct a whirlwind love affair. he’s got the artist in him.

    my mother and i’ve been estranged much of my life, and we are now, but i love her and she always told me that budgets are dreams.

    you all here are special because you all are aware of the power and values and art behind money if it’s god solid honorable structure.

    now i’m blathering. but there’s a lot of creativity and love and power and acceptance here. i’m not the only one who sighed out of relief for humanity upon reading the commenters here.

    so it just IS what it is and it’s lovely and Wolf, you gave ME time and respect, no matter how frizzy and mysterious and “off” i seemed. THAT is love. deep honorable mystical “you are human!” stuff that isn’t around much these days.

    so this is a special place and people need it/FEEL it.

    anyhow, i’m evidence of the power of this site. wait’ll you see/hear what i’ve got going on and what is coming up. i’d TELL, but you all know a lot of the energy of “telling a story” comes in its incubation and mystery and TIMING.

    i got a lot of fuel here. that’s mad powerful. you can’t BUY this kind of empowerment love and energy.

    thank you. and Chris from Dallas? fuckin’ HELL… you have been amazing at focusing me. i get overwhelmed with SO MUCH to do. my head tries to take in all that i can, especially since i’ve missed and assumed so much bullshit was true. i can’t afford to be so “off” next time. and you helped me not get caught up in the chaos.

    i’ve got a lot of work to do. / i’ll be quiet for awhile. but when i come back, whoa… i’m already amazed at what this mere COMMENT SECTION has given me.

    it’s HOLY.

    yes. someone said this is the ONLY comment section you can ask a question and actually get it answered. but i’m way beyond any answer. i’m actually seeing something artistic, economically, and rebelliously and beautifully COOL and powerful.

    thank you for giving a damn. for treating me like a human being and not something to be swatted like a mosquito. i will give back as i can. pass it on.

    this place is miraculous. the comment section here. there is no graph, no number that will explain what you’ve allowed to flower here. it’s an inspiring mix.

    okay. there’s my love letter for the day.

    now. off to do more work. Chris from Dallas… i cannot thank you enough for the focus. i was afraid, too. like “oh fuck… now they’re WATCHING. what if i punk out?” because i can get used to failing and being depressed and get hung up on my rage. now i’ve no TIME.

    i am thankful for you making me accountable. and the exhibitionist in me want to now IMPRESS you! like “tah dah! check THIS out!”

    because then it gets contagious and that’s what we NEED.


  31. Yancey Ward
    September 25, 2016 at 11:47 am

    For what it is worth, I usually scan comments for particular commentators- the lead authors of the articles or post and particularly good commentators I have identified over period of time. For those purposes, I keep text documents with a list of commentators for each site that I visit regularly and when I have the time to scan the comments on essays I like, I use the control f function to get to the commentators I most want to read.

    As for making comments, I do so less and less over time.

  32. Julian the Apostate
    September 25, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I haven’t been commenting much lately, as I have less time these days, but have to agree with most of comments today. I too am a technologically challenged oldster with no Facebook or any social media account. This is a personal choice, even though my family occasionally tries to talk me into it. I have been surprised a couple of times that my comments have been a catalyst for furthering discussion. Except for the trolls who tend to show up when the sky is falling the insights here are stimulating and articulate. Wolf does a bang-up job. Fear does seem to be part of the new Zeitgeist and that is unfortunate because the fearful when cornered tend to become collaborators by default with the moral corruption. It has always been this way. Excelsior!

  33. walter map
    September 25, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    I’m just here for the hors d’oeuvres.

    • kitten lopez
      September 25, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      (—Walter, man that made me giggle out loud so HARD!!!!)

  34. Ishkabibble
    September 25, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    I was born in 1950, so I was brought up in the newspaper age. Before I moved from the US to Canada in 1987, I read the local paper and the weekend editions of the Boston Globe and NYT. After moving I added the Globe and Mail.

    I started to get a hint of just exactly what I was reading, and for what purpose what I was reading was being published, during the 1960s — the Vietnam War era.

    In short, I found that the older I became, the less I agreed with what I was reading and seeing on TV, especially what supposed “experts on the matter” were saying. I knew that what they were saying, and what was being published, was outright wrong and I wanted other people to know that they were wrong.

    In order to be heard by more than my unfortunate acquaintances, I had to write or type a “letter to the editor” on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on the envelope and travel to a mail box to mail it. It was a crap shoot whether what I had written would be printed, let alone without being edited.

    But that was then and this is now — the age of the internet and, fantastically, “alternative” sources of information to the corporate-controlled MSM. Even more fantastically, I have the opportunity to write a comment.

    I regard this relatively new opportunity to comment as one of the greatest opportunities of my life. I finally get to express my opinion on just about anything. My real challenge is to write the comment in a careful, well thought out manner that guides its readers logically to a conclusion — hopefully, my “belief”.

    The only thing of any real, this-time-unsupported substance I’m going to say in this comment is that the “categories” of what people read and comment on — such as food, vehicles, entertainment, investment, finance, economics, politics, foreign policy, war, etc. — are in reality a lot more intimately related to each other than one might think. They’re all part of the same ball of wax.

    For just one example, when one goes to a business or a web site to complain about the fact that a 5-year-old water heater failed, or that their 2013 vehicle is costing them an arm and a leg to maintain even though it is still under warranty, the reasons why this is happening have much more to do with politics, economics and even foreign policy than engineering.

    Understanding how these things relate to each other and why they MUST be the way they are within our present “system” should be the goal of every individual who lives within it, because the success or failure of democracy and whether or not humanity survives depend upon it.

    Thanks for the opportunity, Wolf.

  35. richard
    September 25, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    This post is by way of my thanks to you for your blog.
    I’ll mention that I seem to spend half my free time reading blogs.
    I begin by grabbing a bunch of RSS feeds for later, then scan some Reuters pages, and maybe one or two niche blogs depending on the day, and whether I commented the previous day.
    Then I look at ZeroHedge, and _always_ read the comments on the first page. Half seem to be some kind of sock puppets, but there are posts and links that I would never find via the usual searches, and I suppose even the sock puppets can’t avoid giving some kind of perspective on the articles.
    From there I usually link into Wolfstreet, and sometimes Max Keiser, the Saker, and maybe read between half and one quarter of the news. I usually read the comments here and at the Saker.
    Then, it’s time to scan the results from the RSS feeds, and follow up on anything interesting.
    I’ll mention that getting RSS feeds to work properly seems to be quite tricky, but when it works it makes life a lot easier.
    I’ll finish by noting that in the past, sites that have relied on the readership for views on current affairs have tended to fall into open warfare.
    So again, thanks for all the interesting reading.

  36. Mike B
    September 25, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I would note that the people who read and follow financial / business blogs are already a fairly self selected bunch and it’s safe to assume are more engaged than your typical media couch potato.

    It follows that they are more likely to dive into the discussion and post to the comment section and (far) more importantly, are likely to have something meaningful to say.

    I got hooked on financial / econ blogs starting on the Housing Bubble Blog back in the throes of the crash. Moved on to Calculated Risk, then Naked Capitalism, Wolf Street and Evonomics. I love it here. It’s the most erudite and meaningful corner of the web that I have found.

    I guess you could say that The Housing bubble Blog was the gateway drug ;)

    I also follow Alternet, Resilience, Truthout, and several other left-leaning media but strictly from the perspective of the comments section the finance / econ blogs are a cut above the rest and I have found Wolf Street to be at the head of the pack (forgive the pun ;)

  37. shawn h cramer
    September 25, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Hey wolf.
    Maybe the reason your not getting much play in the comments section is because, generally. what you post is right on the money. Thats my reason anyway,s….Keep up the good work!

  38. I Have No Pension
    September 25, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    I am an occasional visitor to Wolf St, and would agree its comments section is always filled with intelligent observations. I myself have no background in finance and economics and work at the bottom of the dung heap. While I do visit other blogs it is rare for me to comment…don’t usually have the bloody time too! Why? Coz I’m at the bottom of the heap just picking my way through the shit.

    Wolf, you do a good job keeping us informed. For three decades now I have basically accepted that the game is rigged. For nearly the last two decades I have been saying pensions are a giant fraud, and at some point the elephant in the room will become visible. I do not know when that moment of visibility happens, but when it does I will just sit back and observe. I know and accept that the game is rigged, but there are a lot of people out there that cannot see it.

    There are numerous reasons for this, which is for another discussion. But the point I am making about your article, is that there is only a minority that was ever interested. I live on the other side of the Atlantic, and seven years after the “crash” of 2008, there are still a lot of us who cannot see that the system was criminally propped up. How long it goes on for is also another debate. But my own opinion is that it has to be sometime soon. Like I say, I am at the bottom of the heap in an average job. A lot of the blog debates I can find hard to understand, but now that the banks are more or less going from ZIRP to NIRP, surely we are banjaxed.

    From my own observations, sadly there are not that many who “get” the system of finance. Blogs like Wolf Street are a rare gem in the sea of shit we have to wade through. What happens next, who knows? Keep it up Wolf. It might be a minority sport, but your posts are always interesting.

  39. Calvin
    September 25, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    I’m not sure why all the confusion. Most blog comments are innane dribble that hammer on mindless points that have nothing to do with the news piece. The authenticty of the comments and observations are often in doubt.

    Wolf’s stories are typically solid and perhaps 85% factual and about 15% hype (or hyperbole). I mark the WSJ and NYT at about 55-65% factual.

    Although I didn’t read the above comments (proud 1.7%!!- if ‘any’ means any particular story)

    I do like people who make observations and tell their story (Petunia for example). The trucker’s comments are often interesting, although I find it odd so many truckers are reading Wolfstreet.

    Wolf should just do his thing and not be so focused on putting a number on everything.

    Calculation is not comprehension!

  40. Bob W.
    September 26, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Wolf I’ve been a reader for only a few months, referred from Contra Corner. I’m a comment reader, but really never contribute (probably the first comment I’ve made in 10 years). Anyway, when I saw you were a fellow swimmer, I had to look you up, an lo and behold, we both belong to the same swimming organization. So we share an economic philosophy as well as a workout that requires staring at a painted black line.

  41. Chris from Dallas
    September 26, 2016 at 12:28 am


    Yes, it takes time, but EVERYONE has areas of expertise and interesting perspectives that can help us all.

    Crafting thoughtful, informative comments is the pay-it-forward to keep this site so outstanding!

    PS. Kitten Lopez, glad to hear you being so positive. Looking forward to your TA-DA reveal.

    • kitten lopez
      September 26, 2016 at 10:49 am

      (HUUUGE smile!!!)

  42. Álvaro
    September 26, 2016 at 2:52 am

    I usually comment just to show support. I think it’s important to let the author know we’re here, reading. Thus I don’t care if I don’t add new information to the discussion.

  43. Sadasivan
    September 26, 2016 at 3:37 am

    This is,a wonderful Blog,with valuable[invaluable?],information.I have gained a lot by reading the comments, as regards, what is happening in other countries,like in the Netherlands.

  44. Joel
    September 26, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Here is a handy device to speed your reading through the comments section.
    Glance down a comment noting the prevalence of “I”s. They are easy to spot, always capitalized with a space before and after. If there are a lot of them you can likely skip that comment without missing much of significance.

    “I” (there it is again) have found it useful to scan my own comments before hitting the send button.


    “You” may find it useful to scan your own comments before hitting the send button.

    • Joe
      September 26, 2016 at 8:45 am

      Sorry, I should have noted the “I” filter is not relevant to this thread since it more or less invites “I” type comments. IMO this kind of thread enhances community.

  45. Edward E
    September 26, 2016 at 9:15 am

    I think you all should analyze the presidential election debates. Be very interesting to see your takes on the Fed, tax & economic policy red flags that they raise. Better than waisting any time listening to the talking heads Robo-babbling nonsense… promise I won’t go after anybody, just tell me to shut up

    September 26, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    “To add humor to the discussion” is my #1 reason I write a comment.

    True, I may not do a very good job at that, but it is the motivation.

    The second reason is to annoy others, but that wasn’t on the list.

  47. Tinky
    September 26, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Odd coincidence: I was banned today from ZeroHedge for criticizing their increasingly intrusive advertising.

    I’ve been a contributor to their comment section for years, and have even helped them do some original reporting (e.g. on protests in Hong Kong a while back).

    It is remarkable that they have long allowed racist garbage in their comment sections, implying a libertarian stance, yet ban me for having accurately pointed out that the user experience has been degraded in recent times.

    As the O’Jays so eloquently said: Money money money money…Money!

    • September 26, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      I totally understand … both sides.

      Advertising is the way we make a living, including ZH, and including me. It doesn’t pay a lot to begin with. So we offer our endless work for free, and in return we hope our readers will tolerate and hopefully occasionally benefit from the ads. You might actually see something interesting….

      So if you attack our already lousy business model, we can get a little testy. All of us!


      • Tinky
        September 26, 2016 at 4:47 pm

        Wolf –

        I appreciate and understand the business model. But there are ways to generate ad revenue without ruining the user’s experience.

        ZH has been chock full of ads for years, but now readers must regularly click to move them out of the way. And ironically, I and many others are far less likely to respond kindly to a product or service that is being jammed down our throats, then those which are presented in a respectful manner.



        • September 26, 2016 at 5:03 pm

          That’s why I try to keep popups, auto-start videos, and other shenanigans off my site – though it’s not always easy. I really understand! Bloomberg, Reuters, the LA Times, IBT, and many, many others… they’re all driving me nuts!

          No wonder people are resorting to ad blockers! I understand.

          So if you lambaste my ads, please do it gently. Humor is always welcome.

  48. Tinky
    September 26, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I actually love how clean and “quiet” your site is, so no worries.

    And the relative quality of the comments is also refreshing.

    Most importantly, your work, and that of your associates, is excellent. Thanks for your efforts, and I am always open to contributing directly (as I have done at Naked Capitalism) for outstanding content coupled with a user-friendly site.

  49. Julian the Apostate
    September 26, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Note to Calvin: I think we truckers end up here because we work for a living. I got here via FSN I think. It’s nice to have a forum I can get to from anywhere in the country. And the company here is sterling.

    Note to Kitten Lopez: enjoyed immensely your enthusiastic comment. This blog DOES have a spiritual component which others lack. Call it Synergy or the 10,000 things, we are all here because we are supposed to be here. All things are interconnected after all.☺️

  50. Werewolf
    September 26, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Not too surprised that business/financial sites tend to have fewer comments.

    Even on Zero Hedge, the more detailed, technical financial articles often have fewer comments than other ones.

    It does sorta take some intimate knowledge and background to understand the larger macroeconomic policies such as FED policy for example.

  51. ML
    September 28, 2016 at 12:41 am

    Having been a reader of UK’s “Punch” (satirical) magazine, I am immune to advertising. Seriously though, I enjoy adverts because marketing is my passion. What fascinates me is just how much money is wasted on advertising, not just 50%, more so on sites such as WS where often or usually the style of ad bears no relationship to the quality of the article let alone the comments.

    I don’t mind ads on a site that allows me to read and comment on the content for free. My only direct experience of ad intrusion concerns a site where I am a guest writer and where the site owner allows ads to be positioned in the middle of my content. Suddenly a sentence is broken off mid stream to allow for a graphic display of something irrelevant to the reader’s enjoyment. I have no ads on my own websites, not needing ads as a source of revenue.

  52. vap
    October 9, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Its a disorder;
    posting 6 comments a day normal
    12- borderline
    more than 50 help may be needed
    over 100, controlling thinking you can manipulate others to your thoughts,and will often waste days and nights trying to do this.

  53. et
    October 9, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Just eliminate the comments section all together,which is what many websites are starting to do, as it usually just the same addicts posting day and night with different alias’s.

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