The host of the November 1st, 2004 edition of the "Carnival of the Capitalists" excluded a range of posts from the weekly collaborative effort, saying:
I've made a deliberate effort to avoid posts that were mostly based on politics. It may be November 1st on an election year, but as a Canadian I want us to remember that the US isn't the center of the universe. Besides, we're better when we stick to the business at hand: business!This was an unwise decision for a number of reasons:
- Excluding posts will tend to have a chilling effect on new contributions. The point of the Carnival of the Capitalists (CotC) is to expose readers to what each contributor believes is his or her "best" of the previous week. For those who contributed hard-worked entries, outright rejection of one's "best" is a tough criticism. It can be expected that this may tend to have a chilling effect on those contributors' enthusiasm for sending in their "best" on following weeks, which would in turn reduce the quality of the CotC as a whole.
- Exclusion invites trackback wars and sneak posting through comments. Enterprising contributors who are dissatisfied with being rejected could easily be expected to append their own contributions through trackback mechanisms and comment functions. The owner of the hosting site could certainly choose to erase those back-end contributions, but it certainly isn't healthy for the process.
- Exclusion opens the door to blacklisting and tit-for-tat. Since CotC is a collaborative effort shared among a community of contributors, the same people whom one might reject (for good reasons or bad) one week may be hosts in the near future who may recall their rejection and return the favor. It would be nice to believe that we're all better than that, but it would also have been nice to believe that McCarthy-era blacklisting in the movie industry wouldn't still be a topic of debate in 2004. Human beings have feelings and grudges.
- Some hosts may not see the forest for the trees. Among the posts rejected for lack of "business" interest in the November 1st CotC was this piece on the economics of nationalism. It has nothing to do with "business" news, but it has everything to do with current events and their impact on the markets and the economy. The CotC guidelines say very clearly that one "appropriate area for CotC entries" includes "Economics - Monetary policy and other economic issues and their affect on business, the market, the labor market, economic trends, discussion of recession/depression and existence, causes, solutions to same..." The CotC is not just about business, it's about economics, too. Chicago School economists especially tend to think like economic imperialists, seeing the economics in action behind many things. Some hosts may not be able to understand fully the economic issues being discussed, but that does not make the contribution any less economic in nature.
- Exclusion causes unneeded division within the ranks. Everyone who contributes in the spirit of the CotC is part of a larger nexus of beliefs -- mainly in the power and potential of human ability when expressed through the markets. To reject a contribution solely because it imprecisely fits the definitions of relevance one might have in mind needlessly suggests that there are differences among us that, in reality, are nothing more than petty disagreements amid a much larger sea of cooperation. There are still hundreds of millions (in fact, including China, billions) of people living under totalitarian regimes. Until they are free, the differences among "capitalists" are not suitable cause for division among us.
It will be up to the discretion of the host each week whether to link each submission, how or whether to categorize, organize, describe and display them. A post may be omitted for any or no reason.However, for the reasons indicated above, as well as others unnamed, it is both unwise and illogical to reject contributions capriciously and without good cause. Inevitably, some folks will send in junk posts. But it should be reasonably easy to identify which are junk and which are worthwhile contributions that may simply be a little more broadly-focused than the norm.
Rather than rejecting contributions outright, hosts ought to consider some alternatives:
- Contacting those contributors who might otherwise be rejected and soliciting a better defense of the contribution. It's simple: Just tell them you don't understand why it was sent. Perhaps the author knows better. Or perhaps the author will agree that it's not a suitable contribution and humbly accept the rejection.
- Segregating the less-relevant contributions into a separate category. Indicate that they are "other suggestions for reading" or "slightly off-topic", but include them anyway. Perhaps omit the extended commentary offered to the other, more-relevant contributions. If a contributor finds that his or her posts regularly find their way to the "off-topic" pile, it may act as a learning and guiding experience. People need the chance to reform.