Comments!

By Razib Khan 7 Comments

They say blogs are dead. They say comments are dead. To my surprise, this website has surprised me. In the later years of the Sepia Mutiny weblog the number of comments started dropping off. The theory was that people were commenting more on Facebook (Twitter wasn’t huge then). Google Analytics says that more than 20,000 people are reading this website in a given month. That’s not trivial, but it’s small. That being said, the comment threads are often “hopping.”

This is good and nice. How do we maintain this? I don’t moderate much at this point but am worried about things getting out of control. That being said, this is not a job and I have lots of other things to attend to. Thoughts?

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7 Replies to “Comments!”

  1. I think different people bring different things to discuss. As long as that bit is there, engagement will continue.

  2. From a purely aesthetic point of view, I’d recommend getting a good UI/UX designer and streamlining the appearance of this blog:

    1. The ability to scroll down both the article and the comments separately, the New York Times does this- with the article on the left-hand side, and the scrollable comments on the right. This is beneficial when a reader points out something in a post and it’s convenient to directly access that particular sentence or paragraph, without scrolling up or down on all the comments.

    2. The comments of some readers are quite interesting, and if there’s a function to click on their username and search through all the comments they made in the past with links to the articles they posted in then that could be helpful, like the commentary system used by The Guardian.

    3. Improving the search function, if there’s a post I liked reading a year ago, it’s difficult to find it by typing either in the brownpundits search tab or on google/ bing/ safari/ duckduckgo. On that count, a better archival system would make things very accessible.

    4. On the comment system itself a toolbox for bold, italics, possibly underlining, and especially the ability to hyperlink will come in handy. As of now even for registered users, posting more than one link in a comment sends it for review. Granted this can be misused by some posters to spam and redirect to unsafe sites, but registered users should be in a position to use it responsibly.

    5. Along the lines of Medium, if it’s possible for a commentator to reply to a highlighted para or line and to jump to that part of the article while reading that comment would be useful to avoid going through the entire text again, especially if it’s a long post.

    6. It would be easier to direct a new visitor to the podcasts by having a separate link at the top to all the recordings, the website format for The Seen and Unseen by Amit Varma can serve as a guide. If there’s transcription software available for converting words to text, then that could generate more hits if someone searches for that subject.

    7. Getting a dedicated font and logo for brownpundits so that it’s recognizable on the rest of the internet.

    In terms of content, some more diversity in geography and origin might spice things up, getting a poster who writes on Nepal issues, a person originating from the Northeast, someone to write more often on Bangladesh (Shafiq’s articles were quite interesting), and perhaps an Indian of Caribbean origin who could describe the idiosyncrasies of that subculture.

  3. The comment system is a but clunky, you can’t tell who is replying to whom and there should be an email notification for replies.

    The commenting system at unz.com is probably the best I’ve come across.

  4. i agree with the folks here. I can’t tell who’s replied to my posts, and I get no alerts. On the other hand, if we could make this as a Subreddit, that could work very well!

    Make this into a Subreddit, or have a Reddit-style UI.

    1. I second Brown_Pundit_Man’s suggestion.

      Blogs depending on the content type they are dealing with have a certain ceiling beyond which it loses the good that it was generating, mainly due to Scale issues. Can’t have 3000 comments on multiple Posts and for it to be track-able all the time.

      Reddit is the best (or rather least bad to be more accurate) social platform currently because it is accessible (so not like the Fediverse’s alternatives greater privacy but higher learning curve dynamic) but also easier to maintain since it has a Moderator system which can rope in community members who have the time.

      Sam Harris, Joe Rogan subs exist and aren’t even run by these personalities. Even Slate Star Codex has a presence there.

      Twitter not feasible because it totally lacks an adult level commenting system, it’s character limiter makes it severely limited.

      There are technical solutions to have Reddit-like UI, etc system deployed by the Author but they require maintenance and work by said Author of the site.

      If community is what you are looking to maintain or grow then Reddit is the only medium term solution. In Short term this blog-site approach has about 1-2 years maybe more before it becomes too strained. Long term no one can know.

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