Re: Please write articles!

Peter C. McCluskey (
Tue, 15 Jun 1999 08:25:07 -0700 (Robin Hanson) writes:
>I feel compelled to repeat what is to me the obvious solution
>to the list getting buried under posts on hot-button topics:
>summarize your thoughts in well considered articles (I made a
>similar plea on 14Jan99).
>Which makes readers better off: wading through thousands of
>back & forth flames, or skimming a few dozen articles which
>writers have spent at least days writing and rewriting based
>on private comments? The answer should be obvious: when they
>work, articles give a coherent overview of a subject.
>And when they fail they reveal more clearly an author's
>insufficient grasp of a subject.

It seems a bit odd to hear what sounds like a plea for more altruism coming from an economist.
It is fairly obvious that the flame warmongers' goals are different from what you want them to be. I'd guess the motives behind flame wars involve the desire to prove oneself a reliable member of a certain group (the more you insult the enemy, the more you burn your bridges and prove your commitment to stay on the side you are currently allied with), and a desire to persuade others to remain in your group by demonstrating how strongly they will be ostracised if they waver in their support for the memes that the group knows are correct.

What we need is some improved incentives, such as a way of ostracising flame warmongers that doesn't depend on fighting flames with flames or on hard work by a moderator. I'm working on some software which might be a step in this direction, and I hope to post a description in a few days.

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list