Most of you – I don’t know the exact percentage, or even the approximate percentage, or actually any percentage – never, ever read the comments under an article, whether it’s at the New York Times, on those few articles where they allow comments, or at the Wall Street Journal, where there are hardly ever any comments, at the LA Times, or at any of the other mainstream or alternative media sites that still allow comments.
A while ago, I came across a study the Guardian had done about comment readership. I can’t find the study anymore, but I remember vaguely that the number of its readers who actually read the comments is very low – 10% sticks in my mind.
If this number is correct, 90% of you never read the comments, anywhere.
You have tried a few times and have been bombarded with obnoxious, hateful, bigoted comments, with nasty useless snark, with name-calling of public figures, with brutal ad hominem attacks on other commenters or the authors of the articles. You felt like you descended into a nightmarish world of social dysfunction and anonymous aggression where only the worst and darkest sides of human nature are allowed to thrive. And so, to hang on to your sanity for a while longer, you stopped reading comments once and for all, period.
I get that.
But you’re missing out on WOLF STREET.
We try to have a civil comments section where polite disagreement is welcome, where funny is encouraged, and where every reader should feel at home. We don’t always succeed, but we always try.
You will find comments from industry insiders that add specific details to topics discussed in the article. You will find corrections of errors in the article. You’ll find comments pointing out my very dry typo-humor. You’ll see boots-on-the-ground reports supporting or contradicting data in the articles. You’ll encounter arguments from both sides, chaotically jumbled together into one big rich read. There’s some nonsense too, and you’ll get to decide. You’ll run into the silly and the crazy. You’ll see moving personal stories and tidbits. In short, you’ll plug into the experiences of our often astute commenters [I’m proud of you, and I’m happy you have chosen WS to express your views].
Sometimes the comments are the best part!
The comment section is a vibrant place to hang out and lurk – without ever writing a comment yourself. And it’s even more fun when you contribute to the discussion.
So, just to see what you’ve been missing, check out the comments below my article on self-driving cars. There were 127 comments at last count, some of them long and detailed. Many of them – maybe the majority – are lined up on the other side of the argument.
There are commenters who are just stunned by that sort of opposition. And occasionally, I’m in the thick of it, trying furiously and ineffectually to stem the tide.
Not all articles have that many comments. Some have just a few. Many articles have upward of 30, especially once they’ve been published for a few days. It takes a while for our articles to accumulate a lot of comments (so check back later).
To get a feel for what you’ve been missing, sit back and enjoy the comments under this article: Self-Driving Vehicle Revolution to Wipe Out 4 Million Jobs