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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are Comments Bad for Business?

Posted by on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 2:50 PM

This Animal New York article by Joel Johnson has been hitting all the usual bloggy suspects this week. It suggests that comments are bad for business. Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter and other social media has taken the place of the online community-building that blog comments used to foster, Johnson argues. (Although people keep trying to make content even more social.) Further, he makes three major points: "Most comments are terrible," "Comments don’t make any money," and "the people who actually read comments are a small fraction of one percent of [many sites'] entire readership."

I'm sure there must be some kind of argument to be made for comments, but I can't think of any right now. If you have a reason for comments to exist, leave them in the comments below!

 

Comments (51) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
Oh, geez, Constant, will you forever remain clucless or what???????

Narus, that subsidiary of Boeing's, which played a pivotal role in EFF's lawsuite against the government (remember whistleblower, Mark Klein, and that black box placed at AT&T's switching center in San Fran (and many other places), and Bush's, and now Obama's, warrentless wiretapping)????

Narus was working on a spy function for Facebook (now completed) and the others, with the sole purpose of more easily tracking and profiling everyone.

Obviously, the ideal and cost effective solution is to ONLY use the social networking sites: their overall strategiy is ---

Social networks >>>>> cloud computing >>>>> iPad-type tablets >>>>>absolute monitoring of everyone!

Geez, Constant, forever clueless, huh???
Posted by sgt_doom on April 11, 2012 at 3:06 PM · Report this
Pithy Name 2
No Comment.
Posted by Pithy Name on April 11, 2012 at 3:08 PM · Report this
Paul Constant 3
Pithy Name wins!
Posted by Paul Constant http://https://twitter.com/paulconstant on April 11, 2012 at 3:10 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 4
I absolutely hate, hate, hate comments on websites of papers (like the Seattle Times). They should mimic their print version and only publish letters to the editor.

On more magazine-y or alt-weekly stuff (like The Stranger!) I think there is a place for them, as they are more advocacy journalism oriented, and comments *tend* to have more of an air of discussion about them.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on April 11, 2012 at 3:10 PM · Report this
5
Well, that's embarrassing. I was under the (mis)impression that our kibitzing served at least a benign and at most a sometimes helpful function. Turns out we're more trouble than we're worth. Even dicklicks like @1 and his/her ilk notwithstanding. Time to retire the Golux from hereabouts. Cheers.
Posted by gloomy gus on April 11, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
GlamB0t 6
{Your Ad Here}
Posted by GlamB0t on April 11, 2012 at 3:12 PM · Report this
Paul Constant 7
I agree with you 100%, Catalina. Daily newspaper comment sections are a pit.

I've always wondered what the difference is between Seattle Times readers and Slog readers, and why our comments are so much better than theirs. I just figured Slog readers are smarter.
Posted by Paul Constant http://https://twitter.com/paulconstant on April 11, 2012 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Ziggity 8
First!
Posted by Ziggity on April 11, 2012 at 3:14 PM · Report this
Allyn 9
I generally read and enjoy the comments on this site (a few of the folks who love to heavily format their entries are usually tiresome and obnoxious, though). I don’t care to read the comments the national sites I read; they tend to be tedious and tiresome and repetitive. I think it just depends on the number of commenters, the size of the site.
Posted by Allyn on April 11, 2012 at 3:14 PM · Report this
evilvolus 10
Without comments, how would we trash on Charles' pseudophilosophical trolling or mindless retweeting from the rest of the staff?
Posted by evilvolus on April 11, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
11
Weird.

"But here’s the new thing: I’ve had two separate discussions with friends who run mid-sized internet properties–we’re talking high hundreds of thousands to millions of unique users a month–and they’ve both recently completed heavy analysis on their traffic and come to the somewhat shocking conclusion that the people who actually read comments are a small fraction of one percent of their entire readership."

So ... "millions of unique users a month". That would be a major site, wouldn't it?

And yet 99%+ of those "unique users" don't read the comments.

99%+ of the "unique users" at that major site only go there for ... what? The articles? Are there pictures? Video? That sounds weird to me.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on April 11, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
Paul Constant 12
Oh, Gloomy Gus, don't be so Gloomy. I was playing with the fact that comments were broken when I posted this.

Slog comments have been great since we initiated the registered commenter system a couple years back. Before there was registration, it got a little tense, but now everything's grand.
Posted by Paul Constant http://https://twitter.com/paulconstant on April 11, 2012 at 3:20 PM · Report this
evilvolus 13
And who could forget that old standby, Grant Brissey's "Here is a photo of wherever I am standing. That qualifies as content, right?"
Posted by evilvolus on April 11, 2012 at 3:20 PM · Report this
Unregistered User 14
PROUD MEMBER OF THE 1%
Posted by Unregistered User on April 11, 2012 at 3:21 PM · Report this
Paul Constant 15
Real-life LOLz, @14.
Posted by Paul Constant http://https://twitter.com/paulconstant on April 11, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
16
I always suspected that we were a drag on the economy.
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on April 11, 2012 at 3:26 PM · Report this
emma's bee 17
Slog is the only "news" site where I deign to read, let alone post, comments. Non-Facebook-based registration plus that wonderful Greasemonkey applet are big reasons why. (aww, and the fact that you are generally a swell bunch).
Posted by emma's bee on April 11, 2012 at 3:27 PM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 18
If you have to click through to read/see comments it doubles ad view count!
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on April 11, 2012 at 3:28 PM · Report this
schmacky 19
They're using the wrong metric. That fraction of a 1% or so of unique users represent a massively disproportionate amount of TOTAL page views. They are not only super engaged with the content, but with the other commenters, yielding a PV (and thus revenue) bonanza; to cut them off at the knees by yanking the comments away makes no sense on a business or engagement level.
Posted by schmacky on April 11, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 20
Cloud Computing and data farms for the tax-subsidized win.

Comments are only useful when you run them thru Dataminr.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 11, 2012 at 3:50 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 21
@4 for the Comment of the After Slogpocolypse win.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 11, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
SPG 22
This comment is terrible. And it's bad for business.
Posted by SPG on April 11, 2012 at 3:52 PM · Report this
slade 23
The dynamics of internet interface communication at global scale are indeed quite pabulum. Vocal grunts and huffs could suffice as equal but non the less the silence screams in the dead of night and in dreams we see a different lite. to communicate is something we as baby's consider our greatest challenge as elders we can appreciate silence and understanding the inebriated understanding of nothing. Comments are a baby's gold mine a baby's Diamond mine a Baby's first three years of life. Its all you tried to do since you were born to the time you stopped using diapers. you may not remember how you tried to communicate that you mastered the potty but believe Me you wanted the world to know and Potty comments would be fine if we were all 3.
Posted by slade http://www.youtube.com/user/guppygator on April 11, 2012 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Scalpel 24
If we lose the ability to heap vaguely misogynistic/racist/homophobic abuse on people we hate while hiding behind a pseudonym untethered to our primary online identity, the terrorists have won.*

* And by "terrorists", I mean the bitchy feminazi lesbians, especially the black ones, because they're extra-loud.**

** And for those who are deliberately tone-deaf, that footnote was part of the joke and not my actually opinions, smart-ass.
Posted by Scalpel on April 11, 2012 at 4:04 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 25
My general impression is that comment quality decreases exponentially with the size and scope of the audience.

Slog seems to hit the sweet spot...and I'm not just saying that to blow smoke up our hosts' collective ass. Having registration be optional but non-registered comments hidden by default is a stroke of genius. (Most of) the trolls have an outlet, and it is really easy for the rest of us to ignore them.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on April 11, 2012 at 4:05 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 26
Anonymous comments are the pit. On sites where you are forced to use real names--such as with Facebook integration--people are generally much more behaved.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://www.zombo.com on April 11, 2012 at 4:12 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 27
Then why did Huffington Post, which is about 80 percent user generated content (comments) zoom to become the #3 news source in the world?

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on April 11, 2012 at 4:39 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 28
@27 heavy subsidies.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on April 11, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 29
To tell you the truth, these guys are probably correct.

I only write comments for one reason.

So that later I can come back and read my own comments.

This started when I realized that almost one one was printing anything that was the truth in the news.

I thought at one point that there might be some few people who might agree with me, but the vicious replies of people here and elsewhere quickly dispelled that notion.

You like your lies!

Sorry to have disturbed your slumber...

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on April 11, 2012 at 4:46 PM · Report this
Wicked Virgin 30
But without comments how am I supposed to know who's a fucking retarded faggot who doesn't know what they're talking about?

Oh, and you're all a bunch of fucking retarded faggots that don't know what they're talking about.
Posted by Wicked Virgin http://goo.gl/nBxVY on April 11, 2012 at 4:49 PM · Report this
TVDinner 31
C'mon, Bailo, say it: we're sheeple. Sheeple!
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 11, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Report this
evilvolus 32
@29 - Well, one person reading and enjoying your comments is one more than I would have guessed, so there's that.
Posted by evilvolus on April 11, 2012 at 5:06 PM · Report this
seandr 33
But without comments, how do I let everyone know they're wrong?
Posted by seandr on April 11, 2012 at 5:16 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 34
@1: You're a good argument against having open comments.

@27: "Then why did Huffington Post, which is about 80 percent user generated content (comments) zoom to become the #3 news source in the world?"

Have you ever fucking READ a Huffington Post article's comments?

It's 90% bullshit, and it's even worse are the articles where the moderators only approve the glowing ones that support their whackadoodle antivax guru diet experts.
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 11, 2012 at 5:28 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 35
@29: "I thought at one point that there might be some few people who might agree with me, but the vicious replies of people here and elsewhere quickly dispelled that notion."

Or maybe everybody universally thinks your ideas are goobery?
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 11, 2012 at 5:29 PM · Report this
36
@29 Oh, god.

You lost me as soon as you started to brandish the word "truth".
Posted by floater on April 11, 2012 at 5:37 PM · Report this
37
If you're looking at the relationship between comments and popularity or ad revenue on great big well-trafficked sites, then you're looking at the wrong sites. Comments are much more of a draw on smaller sites, especially on sites where the authors of articles participate in comments.

Once comment volume gets past a certain threshold, authors don't have enough time in the day deal with them. Then at a higher threshold, there are too many comments for even (most of) the commenters themselves to read through and reply to, and the comments become little more than a kind of sad ritual of people throwing words into the void.

This is why comments to a typical Dan Savage SLOG post* are pointless; he doesn't reply to them, because he doesn't have the time for them all. Comments to a typical (e.g.) Charles Mudede post are much better; he gets about six replies, and he argues with them.

* to be fair, Gay Famous Sex Columnist does probably attract more shouty shouters and logic-immune crazybrains than the rest of you combined. I wouldn't see much point in reading or replying to fans like that either, if I were in his shoes.
Posted by robotslave on April 11, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 38
@37: "* to be fair, Gay Famous Sex Columnist does probably attract more shouty shouters and logic-immune crazybrains than the rest of you combined. I wouldn't see much point in reading or replying to fans like that either, if I were in his shoes."

Yeah, there's no logic or sincerity to posters like period troll or Seattleblues. You get nothing but Santorum all over yourself bothering to reply to them.
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 11, 2012 at 5:57 PM · Report this
39
@38

I don't mind the loony regulars so much, they kind of grow on me. But Dan gets all these inane interlopers working themselves into a lather, or just occupying vast stretches of vertical space with their drive-bys.

I see he's recently posted another "letter of the day." If you've got the stomach for it, go over there in a little while and count the number of comments that are simply having a game of "Let's Play Sex Advice Columnist", leaving a useless pile of answers to the posted question, as if Dan were doing an audition for his replacement. And count the number of comments Dan leaves in response...
Posted by robotslave on April 11, 2012 at 6:19 PM · Report this
TVDinner 40
@37: Now that you mention it, I long ago quit reading comments to Dan's post. It's like they're an ecosystem unto themselves, and the sensibility seems really un-Sloglike in some ways. It's as if they don't share the same cultural norms as the rest of Slog. I don't think they're from Seattle.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 11, 2012 at 6:22 PM · Report this
TVDinner 41
@39: YES! That's it, exactly! You can always count on EricaP less than 10 comments in, addressing the question as if Dan didn't even exist. He seems irrelevant to her and her ilk. I find it very strange.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 11, 2012 at 6:26 PM · Report this
beatgrl 42
The comments are an integral part of the experience here on slog, given the consistently smart and funny content. Sometimes I forget that I'm not in the slog safe-zone and click in to comments elsewhere, like at my daily, and it's rather emotionally scarring.
Posted by beatgrl on April 11, 2012 at 6:31 PM · Report this
43
Slog commenterz 3evar! You feel me, brothers and sisters? We are the best commenters ever, and we can easily prove it with a scientific and legally binding poll!
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on April 11, 2012 at 8:41 PM · Report this
HelpMeJebus 44
Penis.
Posted by HelpMeJebus on April 11, 2012 at 8:42 PM · Report this
seandr 45
@40, @41: ??

Often Dan explicitly invites commenters to weigh in. He's even said "Sometimes I learn from my readers, other times they learn from me." Yes, it's an ecosystem, a collective effort, a conversation. It's not a lecture. It definitely draws people from all over the world. These are bad things?

And Savage Love needs a female perspective. Personally, I'm grateful for the input of women like EricaP and others, and I'm guessing Dan is as well. Frankly, kind of bummed you've checked out. Oh well, guess it's not for everyone.
Posted by seandr on April 11, 2012 at 10:00 PM · Report this
sirkowski 46
Haters gonna hate?
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on April 11, 2012 at 10:22 PM · Report this
Cynic Romantic 47
+1
Posted by Cynic Romantic on April 12, 2012 at 8:04 AM · Report this
48
Slog, day to day, has great comments. I wouldn't read Slog without them. The Wall Street Journal has good comments but ONLY on lifestyle articles, such as the Tiger Mom book article. There are hundreds of amazing, unique comments on articles like that. The comments on any other WSJ article are crap, just a bunch of right wingers spewing opinions that have little to do even with the article. The NYTimes comments are good but way too long and dull. They are like a bunch of little essays. Slog rocks.
Posted by David from Chicago on April 12, 2012 at 8:07 AM · Report this
49
You know, my first Facebook business page for immediate cash loans is set to have people click into this web page rather than the Wall. The wall is for ongoing comments, but the web page is a mockup of his regular website. It seems that you can now get to the web page, but you cannot direct your clients to it. Now, if you don’t post every single week, your page starts to look neglected on your Timeline. So, while Facebook forces this new direction on everyone, it will be interesting to see how many businesses give up on FB. I already advised a client today not to bother with FB for now. My other friends and business partners have told me they hate the new model.
Posted by Marian on April 13, 2012 at 12:03 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 50
@11- I bet that major content provider is Pornhub. Their most viewed videos get like three or four comments.

Or so I'm told.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on April 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
51
@41 I haz an ilk?
Posted by EricaP on April 14, 2012 at 12:37 AM · Report this

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