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Regulation of comments

I recently wrote that I am not fond of the tone of some comments but the costs of moderating comments is too high. Cameron Murray comments:

Nice to hear your view about how a highly regulated environment can improve quality. I wonder how many readers catch the irony.

Here at the ‘commenting free market’ we are finding outcomes most people don’t like, and looking at models of regulation that work.

The real world comes with all sorts of people too – perhaps regulation can provide beneficial outcomes more often than you think.

My house is a highly regulated environment. There is central planning. I don’t expect food to show up. I have to go to the grocery. I replace light bulbs that have burned out. I don’t expect them to replace themselves. I wash my clothes. I don’t expect them to wash themselves. We have lots of rules in my house. People eat together rather than whenever they want to. I sometimes ask my children to turn down the TV. There is a lot of sharing and egalitarianism in my house. That is not ironic given my views on public policy. Public policy and private policy are different and should be. There are important distinctions between a public and private environment. The incentives and tradeoffs and returns from regulation and planning are very different.

This blog belong to Don Boudreaux and me. The comment section has a publicness to it. But we are in charge of it to some extent. We can delete comments. We can ban people. We can set rules. We sometimes choose to do these things and sometimes do not. It would be bizarre to argue that we are inconsistent because we follow the conventions of grammar or civility in this private environment in ways that we would not want police to enforce in a public environment via the state.