The link spam just keeps coming. What's wrong with the world?

jwatte's picture

I've turned off comments. The ratio of kudos or questions to advertising for Nike-branded male enhancement outlets has gone above 1:100, and Mollom doesn't seem to help with that anymore.

This goes to show that the world, as we know it, is not set up to properly deal with the tragedy of the commons. Everybody would be better off (on average) if public forums without spam could just work, and free information sharing was high-signal-to-noise.

Yet, the incentive to capitalize on that to skew the playing field to your favor is so strong. Why wouldn't I, the intrepid SEO entrepreneur, want to drive people and traffic to MY site, to make sure that I get a bigger slice of the pie? Even if, by doing so, I shrink the size of the entire pie? That's actually what we define as anti-social and even sociopathic behavior, but our public discourse and public policy does not even recognize this as a "bad."

I could say the same thing about secrets, btw: If rational actors with perfect information will lead to the optimal outcome, then secrets are actively bad for society -- yet our society values the market-skewing function of secrecy in reporting, research, negotiations, and all other interactions, above the overall improvement in average outcomes we'd have if there simply were no secrets.

When the individualist is given free reign, and we rely on people's own good faith efforts to try to not ruin the public good, we all know what happens. Only the suckers end up even trying to respect the public good. And we end up with the kind of society we have.