As I noted this morning, THT’s Fantasy Focus has enabled comments. I think this is a good thing in that, as I’ve said before, blogs are about conversations, and comments make the blogger-reader communication a genuine two-way street. I encourage you all to comment on the stuff you read wherever you read it, because the more feedback someone hears, the less likely they are to believe their own baloney, and the belief in one’s own baloney is the cause of about 75% of the bad writing out there.
The Fantasy Focus comments got me thinking about my own comments section. Since the move over to THT a couple of weeks ago, I’ve gotten the sense that comments are down. Since I’m lazy I wasn’t going to go back and count, but blogger Scott Simkus isn’t lazy, and he sent me the following email this morning:
For fun, I took some time comparing your last 120 posts at the old “Classic” site versus your first 120 at the new home, just to analyze the comments sections.
Old site: 814 comments, or 6.78 per post.
New site: 643 comments, or 5.35 per post.
The comments are down, but on the other hand, when you “link” to another story, the traffic is much higher. What I’m inferring from this is your traffic is, indeed, higher at the Hardball Times site, but the comments section (the “conversation”) is down 20%. Is this true? And if so, what do you make of it?
Hurm. My intuition is confirmed. My first response was to blame the tougher steroid testing regime, but that’s probably not true. Beyond that, here are some non-mutually exclusive thoughts on the matter:
1) A bigger pond like THT makes some readers feel like they have less ownership, for lack of a better term, over the forum. When people felt like it was just me and them and a couple of other people talking — which is how it really was a little more than a year ago — they may have been inclined to gab all day. Now they may think that there are too many eyes, or the club is not as exclusive, or that I’m too busy or something, and are thus less inclined to comment. This is not true, but I understand that some people may feel that way;
2) The content in the first two+ weeks since the changeover has, I’ll admit it, been a tad boring. Or maybe not boring per se, but certainly less conducive to commenting. That’s the news cycle, really. It’s hard for me to describe precisely, but there are certain types of posts that draw comments and certain types that don’t, and for the past couple of weeks, there have been far more of the latter rather than the former. These things tend to even out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that has contributed to lighter commenting. Meta-bloggy posts like this one and the one from this morning don’t help, by the way, and I realize that;
3) A technical explanation: I have no idea why it is, but THT, for some reason, makes you refresh in order to immediately see your comment if you were just recently — say, within the last five minutes — on the comments page on which you posted. It could be a cookies thing, but I don’t pretend to understand, and just talking about cookies makes me hungry. In any event, I’m guessing that we’ve lost some commenters because they either think that I’m moderating comments or they think their comments are disappearing into the ether or something, which is not true. If you have any thoughts about this, by all means, comment.
Overall, traffic has increased pretty nicely from the old site to the new, so I know people are reading. The hope now is that you all find it worthwhile to tell me when I’m full of it, and then some of you others tell them that they’re full of it for telling me that I’m full of it. I find that sort of thing to be great fun, and the best part is that we all usually learn something when smart people start arguing.
So, play nice, but play hard.