Aug 21 2009
Blogging is in the middle of a storm these days as certain high profile blogs such as Zero HedgeÂ are in what seems to be a running battle with news outlets like CNBC. I actually think it’s probably a good thing. In particuar, theÂ Â subject of anonymity is one of the major points of conflict, though the press also holds up the lack of editorial standards as being another issue with the blogosphere. At risk of losing points with my blogging peers,Â I actually tend to fall in line with the news media’s stance on things.
The advantage and disadvantage of anonymity is that it allows someone to say and do things they would not otherwise. It can be good in terms of bringing things to light when might otherwise put the individual at risk. On the bad side, though, it can allow one toÂ engage in destructive behavior without concern for negative consequences. The folks a Zero Hedge claim they use it to keep the focus on what’s being said, not who. I find that problematic, however.
To my mind, one of the most important things we need to know in life is where the biases are with those who seek to offer us information and/or advice, as well as the credentials they bring to offer it up to us. We need to know if it’s reasonable to believe and acceptÂ what we are being told. Is it coming from a legitimately knowledgable source?Â Is the information or recommendationÂ is being shaded by the deliverer, intentionally or otherwise, because ofÂ theirÂ own underlying motivation? This is important for our own decision-making process in terms of whether we can rely on what we’re being told, and relates to friends and family just as much as with media or online sources.
The NY Post ran a story today that one of the Zero Hedge contributors was given the boot from the securities industry last yearÂ by FINRAÂ because of insider trading. That sort of thing naturally sets off all kinds of alarm bells about the credibility of the blog’s content. I tend to want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but can’t helpÂ wonder what kind of grudge this guy might have. That sort of thing could flavor his writing and bias his commentary. Oh, and then there’s the whole history of dishonesty suggested by the insider trading charge.
Bloggers get things wrong, a lot. I don’t mean all the time, but I see plenty of errors in my travels of the blogosphere and related sites. It’s like the healthcare debate where things are being misinterpretted and blown out of proportion all over the place. It’s one thing to offer an opinion. It’s a whole other thing to present facts. If you’re doing the latter you have a responsibility to your readers to get it right. And it’s a good idea for your own credibility as well because if you share erroneous info and it gets spread you end up looking like an ass.
Obviously, we all make mistakes. We’re not going to get it 100% right all the time. No one expects that. They do, however, expect us to make the effort, toÂ accept the responsibility,Â and to fix the errors when we do make them. Why? Because people actually believe what the read, it is kind of scary at times.
All the above is why I do not blog anonymously, nor do I post anonymously on trading forum sites like Trade2Win. While I may not agree with CharlieÂ Gasparino on many things, I do agree with him on this. I don’t hide behind a screen name to take shots at people. I let folks know who I am and what my background is so they can make an educated decision whether to take what I say seriously or not. And because of that I take responsibility for the quality of the content I produce. After all, everyone is going to know who wrote it.