Some people might be curious about the connection between comments and site traffic, and recently I’ve had an opportunity to do a little experiment. I put all comments on moderation to give myself a little more time with the family without having to worry about trolls while away from the site, and it’s been a nice little break. But at the same time, it looks as though less is going on on the site.
Actually, this isn’t true. Below is a graph of traffic starting from just after I put all comments on moderation to yesterday.
As you can see, traffic has gone up considerably. The picture is just a snapshot, so it isn’t entirely representative of average traffic. Weekends are usually lower (Saturdays lowest), and that makes it look a bit more impressive than it should. Add to that the fact that I didn’t really post anything on Friday or Saturday, resulting in lower traffic for those days, and it skews it a bit more.
However, this month a typical day is running just over 10,000 page views per day and around 3,500 uniques — pretty much like Monday and Tuesday. The dark green represents page views, and the light green uniques, so as you can see the traffic shot up considerably by the middle of this week, with over 14,000 page views and 5,000 uniques yesterday.
Those kinds of numbers put comments in perspective. Out of over 5,000 people who visited the site yesterday (and that doesn’t even include the 1,000 individuals out of 2,100 subscribers who viewed the feed), perhaps only a couple dozen commented — well under 1%.
Usually, I don’t tend to be too bothered by comments, even when they are pretty lousy. However, I’m starting to rethink that. This is because you get traffic as a blogger largely from other bloggers, tweets, etc., and when you have commenters who are dumping on other bloggers or saying ugly stuff, people tend to hold you responsible, and it does hurt your site. For example, if I have people trashing another popular manosphere blogger in comments, it will make him think twice about linking any of my posts, and that is not a good thing.
Although I could care less when feminists and the like criticize comments (they obviously aren’t my target audience), when colleagues and people on their sites start taking offense, it’s a problem.
Finally, more bloggers in the manosphere have been cracking down on comments as it matures and grows. There are a lot more sites than a few years ago, and they get a lot more traffic. So there’s a trickle down effect: when most sites exercise comment control, the people who get “controlled” tend to end up on the sites that don’t. The consequences of this should be pretty clear. It suggests that the old “anything goes” model, which was necessary and quite helpful in the beginning, isn’t feasible any longer.
So, as zed has suggested, it’s probably time for The Spearhead to put on the “big boy pants” and start policing comments more thoroughly. I think this will have a positive effect, because there are a lot of quality commenters I appreciate, including some who have left due to the lower comment quality. Perhaps some of these valued commenters will return and comment from time to time — I certainly hope so.
Although it’s a fairly substantial change, I’m now going to set the bar considerably higher, including for graphic language (long a pet peeve of mine), violent fantasies, personal attacks, attacks on other manosphere bloggers and unhelpful griping. I assume most people can handle this fine, and it will be a much more comfortable environment for the majority.
Looks like the manosphere is growing up and coming into its own. Not a bad thing.