Nieman Foundation at Harvard
What’s with the rise of “fact-based journalism”?
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April 10, 2012, 12:31 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   April 10, 2012

Joel Johnson, veteran tech blogger and new managing editor of Animal New York, makes the case that comments aren’t just [pick one: abrasive/abusive/nonsensical/useless] — they’re bad for business. Along with the usual complaints, there’s this:

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.

I’m not talking about people who comment, which is an even smaller percentage. I’m talking about people who read comments, the supposed traffic-and-revenue generating nebulous “community” that supports nascent internet media publications and make all that engineering and moderator staffing worthwhile. Less than a percent. And if you measure the number of people who actually scroll to the end of a post and read all the comments, it’s even less.

Unsurprisingly, comments are closed on his piece.

Ken Fisher, founder of Ars Technica, concurs with the estimate:

(Worth noting that Ars puts its comments on a separate page from the stories themselves, requiring an extra click.)

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