A Gentler Slope

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Slope of Hope is in its eighth year, which makes it an old-timer in the world of financial blogs. I have written in excess of 10,000 posts here, and over the years we have had many ups and downs together. We've seen people come and go (some departures met with sadness; others with joy). There is a rich tradition and history to this blog, and I'm proud of its popularity and prolific content (as an aside, I'll note that the tweet that is going to be sent out with this post is the 2,500th, which seems like another strange little milestone).

But what I am most proud of is the culture here. I would like to think I have had a big hand in shaping this culture in two ways. One, bluntly stated, is that I believe I am, on the whole, a decent fellow. I try to behave decently, and I try to foment respectful behavior here; and two, the custom comment system on the blog is an invaluable medium and has helped keep the lifestream of the blog – specifically, the thousands of comments shared amongst Slopers every day of the year – flowing.

But I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, and I feel I have strayed from my own values with respect to my own behavior. The soaring market of the last four years has left me bruised and more than a little bitter, and I'm afraid that has bled into my own spirit, expressed here. I lash out at public figures. I get angry to a fault. I write things that are poisoned with bad feelings. In short, I want to be decent, but sometimes I do not act decently. I have fallen short of my own standard.

I have been thinking of this a lot lately, and those feelings were augmented this week when I took the
1002-francis time to notice how generous Slopers are with their gratitude to the various contributors on this blog. Someone makes a post, and a whole slew of people offer their thanks. Day after day, they do this. And they do it for no other reason than to show their appreciation.

That is the sort of kind friendliness that I like to see, and my own ugly emotions can sometimes leak into this place, which is a failing on my part. Many of you are probably wondering what on earth I am talking about. I certainly don't rant and rave all day long. But I definitely have my "moments", particularly when things are (ever so briefly!) starting to get bearish in the markets.

To come right to the point, there are plenty enough jerks in the world (I should know; I have been a target of theirs for years), and there's plenty enough bile and hatred. I don't want to be a part of it, and I don't want to add to it. Slope is a friendly place, but sometimes the tone can get ugly, and I fault myself for not only allowing it to happen, but exacerbating the situation myself. This is going to end.

Does this mean that I'm suddenly going to get Bambi-eyed on you and only say nice things about everyone and everything in the world? Not at all. Slope has always been edgy, and that edge is going to stay. Sure, I'll cheer with markets start to slide. Sure, I'll rant about the Fed. Yes, I'll shake my fist with you about the state of the world. I don't like what I see, and I'm going to say it.

But what I'm going to stop doing – and you can you can hold me to this if I slip – is any kind of ad hominem attacks. In other words, I have no problem with railing against institutions or organizations, but if there's another human being involved, I'm going to draw the line. This is strictly for myself; I'm not suggesting censorship here. But I think it'll do my soul some good – – and benefit the culture here as well – – to, frankly, keep things a little more professional.

I'll say again how grateful I am that you are here, and offer my particular appreciation to those who are so generous with their own writing (Springheel Jack, BDI, Ryan, Market Sniper, Mark St. Cyr, Mike, Goatmug, and so many others). I'll be doing a market post later tonight, but it was important to me to get this off my chest. No one asked me to do this. No one sent me an email pointing this out. It simply dawned on me, and I decided on a change for the better. Thanks.