More than a million comments

Written By: - Date published: 10:15 am, November 2nd, 2015 - 56 comments
Categories: admin, The Standard - Tags:

As at right now (08:30 NZST 2nd November 2015 1),  we passed having more than a million approved and published comments.

Million comments

Many years ago when we had just 500,000 comments when Eddie made this graphed prediction based on the steady growth of the site.

a million comments

As I said at 900,000 comments back in March..

Looking against Eddie’s graph, I am pretty sure that we aren’t going to quite hit the million comments at the 3rd of August. That is just 137 days away.

And we didn’t. It happened 3 months later. It took 228 days compared to the 188 days it took between 800k and 900k. But rather than having an election and its aftermath, in the last 228 days we have been running through the slower winter months. Still it was a respectable prediction for about three and half years later.

Especially when you consider the turnover in authors, site moving, changes in how we pay for the site, and all of the usual things you get in any organisation that is run on volunteers and a shoe string. See our about, which a number of the more stupid commenters seem to prefer to either not to read or don’t want to believe.

We have done it without bothering to descend to the arsehole political and commercial tactics documented in Dirty Politics. We offer the honest, usually blunt, opinions of our authors and commenters. Unlike some other sites, we don’t favour people who would like us to pay with coin or influence to colour our opinions. Of course to achieve this, we have had moderators who will chop off people who abuse what the site offers with some intensely personal and honest opinions about their behaviour. The mixture of freedom to express both from commenters and moderators tends to work.

The result is, in my opinion, an extraordinary level of robust debate. Provided you don’t start abusing the freedom to comment that the site offers or personally attack it’s authors we will let commenters speak their honest opinions about public and political policies (see the policy). We think that this is healthy for both the political debate in NZ and especially for the left and the labour movement. It means that the commentary not only comes from the broad labour movement from unions to parliament that this site is set up to provide a voice for, but also for those who oppose it and who can express themselves clearly.

The site is in extraordinary health at present. Just to give you an idea of how well it is going, look at the numbers of unique users reported for June since 2008 by google analytics 2

June 2008 8,935
June 2009 14,078
June 2010 19,761
June 2011 29,318
June 2012 29,505
June 2013 21,398
June 2014 41,522
June 2014 47,546

Despite the growth in the site over the last few years, I’m pleased that we have managed to maintain the interest of our female readers consistently between 28 and 31% 3. It’d be great if we could push it higher, but I suspect that the preponderance of active male authors and the particular style of robust debate that we try to foster will always limit that. But we will keep trying to raise that.

Male & Female session balance

Now I’m sure that someone will want to know who made the millionth comment and what it was. Unfortunately, I’m on the other side of the world and my own security systems are preventing me to from looking at it. It is late and I don’t have time to bypass them right now. I will try again tomorrow night my time and add it to the post then. Besides, I haven’t done my moderation sweep yet and I might reduce the number of comments a bit 😈



  1. I’m in Italy at present working on yet another export task for our exuberant tech export industries – currently our third biggest export industry. I had to look up what the NZ time was.
  2. I picked June as it tends to be one of the months least affected by shifts in authors arriving and leaving, election fever, leadership contests and the general political cycles. Although not completely as is obvious from the numbers when you look at the years that didn’t have elections or leadership contests.
  3. Google analytics added this sampled gender feature last year and I have been observing closely ever since. It is done from the information that google has that positively identifies the gender of the people reading the site, which is around 50% of the sessions. It isn’t perfectly accurate, but it is good enough to observe trends.

56 comments on “More than a million comments”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    Thanks Lynn and authors and moderators. Yay for The Standard.

  2. RedBaronCV 2

    Who was the 1million comment?

    • lprent 2.1

      I’d love to know myself. However until I have time to figure out how to access from the other side of the world into the database without hitting my own security measures, you’ll have to wait to find out.

      Anyway, I’m off to bed, it is nearly midnight. Another day of hard work ahead of me in the morning.

  3. RedBaronCV 3

    The vast difference between online time male & female might be an interesting proxy for a number of things – maybe on more than this site. Women do a lot of unpaid work, are generally poorer, does this affect their internet time and their involvement in the greater world.

  4. Hayman Tanqueray 4

    1 million comments from 10 persons…now thats a record of note LOL

    • Bill 4.1

      Ignoring the utter stupidity of your comment, Pareto’s Rule would suggest that ~ 80% of comments come from ~ 20% of those commenting.

    • lprent 4.2

      Ah no. Read the post, and in particular read the table in the post.

      Like every social statistic it tends to follow the 80/20 (pareto) observation. Most of the people writing comments in any one period only made a few on their topics of interest. A few made a lot of comments on all kinds of topics. The latter tends to change considerably over time as commenters wax and wane over the years. After you have expressed the same observations a number of times, you tend to get bored with telling mindless fools like you the blindingly obvious.

      Remember that I track people not only by their handles, I can tag it to individual machines. But it is almost as easy for anyone with a modicum of the intelligence (that you so clearly lack) that they can recognise individuals by their style of comment regardless what handle they operate with.

      I haven’t analysed the last couple of months, but during the middle of the year there were several thousand distinct individuals making comments each month, and always more than 45 thousand reading them. But the set of who those prolific individuals is distinctly different between years.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        But the set of who those prolific individuals is distinctly different between years.

        On the other hand I’m beginning to feel like the resident Father Jack 🙂

        • lprent

          You, me, r0b and few others. It gets kind of weird looking back to the comments in 2007 / 2008 and realising that few of the people who made them appear to still comment. It seems that in the debate people run out of things to say or something else in their lives takes up the time.

          Some stop entirely. Others join a party and start arguing within it.

          • Lanthanide

            I first came across The Standard when I was looking for more information about Labour’s 2008 budget policy around kiwisaver. I found an excel spreadsheet here from googling that let you put in your salary etc.

            The spreadsheet had some big errors in it, but I didn’t get around to sending in a fixed version of it.

            And I’ve stuck around ever since.

            • Lanthanide

              Actually it looks like it was the 2007 budget where Labour overhauled Kiwisaver (prior to signups starting), which would have been when I found the site.

              Seems I’ve made so many comments that I can’t go further back than May of this year via the search!

  5. RedLogix 5

    Congratulations Lynn. It’s been a long haul and a heavy load you’ve carried all these years – and this is a big milestone to celebrate.

    For all the bruises and knocks we’ve taken in the debates – Lynn is right – we are in remarkable shape. And largely due to his benignly despotic leadership.

    I’d like to propose that in recognition of this – we spend just one day celebrating the positive in all of us. Then back to hammer and tongs as usual.

    • Alethios 5.1

      Yep. Well done Lynn. You’d be hard pressed to find a site with more robust debate anywhere on the internet. It’s helped informed the opinions of, and nurtured the debating skills of a whole generation of activists (including yours truly). Quite the legacy already, and I’m glad to see it’s continuing to move from strength to strength.

    • lprent 5.2

      I tend to try to not so much lead* as to make sure that general agreement past and present get implemented and are operational. I’m hugely functional in my attitudes about anything when it comes to running this site. I hate exerting effort unless it can made to be systematic and get it embedded in the operations or culture. In the various back end debates, you’ll note that is always the position that I argue from. It is definitely not from any question of ideology or concept of right and wrong.

      * You’d notice a significiant difference in how I act if I decided to actually lead something.

  6. Rosie 6

    Congratulations Lynn, and all those authors that contribute towards making The Standard the informative and educational site it is. (and sometimes quite entertaining).

    I’ve noted your comments before about the gender readership and I think you mentioned previously it’s higher than most other political blogs. Interesting. Whats turning women off discussing the issues of the world they share equally with men? (Maybe RedBaron has a good point about all the unpaid work we do, often at anti social hours I might add).

    You say the female readership could do with being pushed up. I second that 🙂 To those women that do comment, keep it up. I always enjoy reading you and you provide welcome relief when things get a bit testosterone laden (Insert cheeky grin emoticon thingo here).

    • lprent 6.1

      I don’t know that it is higher than other general political sites. However as far as I am aware none of the others publish that kind of information about female readership despite it being available since early in 2014 on google analytics.

      In the absence of any hard information, the gender differences between the large political blogs is more of a inference than anything else. I tend to proclaim it because for us it was and has been for a very long time to be a strategic objective for the site.

      Obviously the overtly politically feminist blogs have a much higher female readership. But they aren’t any in NZ that have the widespread readership that would make then accessible to a widespread audience. Probably the widest would have been The Handmirror in it’s day. The size of the combined mommy blogs (those like Mama Said) have an immense audience, but they tend to stay away from politics.

      If you read the comments in Kiwiblog and Whaleoil with the eye of someone who has been reading BBS through to Blog comments for decades, neither have a significiant number of women commenting. I’m pretty sure that they are therefore not reading. Their participants in their comments sections tend to get quite misogynist in having a go at any who do write comments that don’t sound like testosterone laden machismo bullshit. It is hardly an inducement for women to either comment or read.

      Amongst the other larger blogs, Public Address probably has as many or probably even more of a female audience than we have (since they don’t publish any stats that I have seen so it is hard to tell). But that is probably more because of the conversational genteel style of debate and their wider focus.

      I have no real idea for The Daily Blog, but I suspect that they have a slowly growing female audience in the comments section. However it takes a lot more time to grow a female readership who will come back many times to read a blog. At TS it took us more than seven years of a quite deliberate strategic effort by authors and moderators to accumulate the female commenters and audience that we now have. It was a task that was and still is difficult to balance with the equally deliberate robust debate that we were founded to provide.

      But the silence on these kinds of stats at TDB tends to be somewhat telling. Who can doubt that Bomber wouldn’t be proclaiming that kind of stat if he had it? They should have access to those google analytics stats because they appear to be using the right kind of javascript that allows them to be collected.

      I’m sure that Danyl at The Dimpost or the SciBlog have a wide female audience and commenters. However these are getting into the blogs that have less than a tenth of the number of pageviews that a site like The Standard has, and they don’t have a noticeably growing overall audience.

      • Rosie 6.1.1

        I think whaleoil and kiwiblog would have about as much appeal to women as a cold cup of sick. I do admire those women who have the stomach to visit those sites for research purposes.

        I really only have dipped my toes into the world of political blogs so an not in a position to make comments about others, except to say I did try Public Address and while everyone had very good manners which I appreciated, I prefer the strong and feisty characters that visit TS. It’s often lively and thats what keeps me hanging around even when I go through patches of not saying anything.

        As for Martyn Bradbury, I suspect that his fragile ego wouldn’t allow his stats be publicly known if he thought they weren’t flattering to himself personally. I suspect TBD is more for himself. Where as TS I see as providing a genuine service. So thank you for that. Seems to be a real labour of love.

    • lprent 6.2

      BTW: If site operators aren’t using the wealth of knowledge in google analytics then they need their head read. The best way to know who you are actually catering to is to have tools that analyse that. Then you can take steps to deal with them.

      For instance, one of the things that we have enforced from early on is that people are discouraged from running multiple identities, and in particular that they get banned when those identities start arguing with each other. Or the coordinated tag-teaming that Cameron Slater and a few of his mates used to organize on here before I started targeting the individuals doing it. I suspect that a lot of the bitching that goes on about Whaleoil’s Peter Belt on other sites is precisely because he appears to have been dealing with those problems over there.

      Like myself or PB or anyone who was involved in the BBS’es back in the 80s and early 90s, he’d be perfectly aware of just how poisonous that kind of crap is to a site.

  7. Ad 7

    Up The Workers!

    • Anne 7.1

      And don’t forget us retired – or semi retired as in my case – pensioners ( 🙁 ) who work hard to help keep the comments flowing…

  8. maui 8

    Congratulations, I think one measure of success is how many trolls comment here. You could look at this place reaching the right people then, the ones endorsing the idiotic policies. Congrats also to Eddie for making an accurate prediction!

    • lprent 8.1

      The idea of the site is to allow as many people with as many possible views to comment. That is how you get a robust debate.

      Because of that strategic imperative (which clearly Stuart Nash doesn’t like), the moderators aren’t focused on what peoples views are. They are focused on how they behave when saying them.

      So of course we are going to have what many people would class as ‘trolls’, and often the people making such accusations are viewed as being trolls by others. The moderators don’t care that much. What we care about is that we have well behaved trolls who don’t deliberately start silly flamewars, don’t personally attack authors, don’t denigrate the continued hard work that goes into the site, and don’t attempt to deliberately cause diversions from the topics set by the authors who write and post the posts.

      That tends to confine the expression of commenter nuttiness of all kinds to Open Mike and the Daily Review, and is often of huge entertainment to many (including myself). That is why we have them, they allow debate on the topics that the authors aren’t covering. If you don’t like that diversity, then don’t read them.

      • greywarshark 8.1.1

        ?It seems that the Open Mike must be important in getting the attention and participation of a large number. About 18,000? posts with an average comment of say 40 would be 720,000 and the rest must be our Open Mike ravings, disagreements and priceless wisdoms going for a song.

        What the song would be I can’t imagine. But…
        “We ain’t got a barrel of money, Maybe we’re ragged and funny, But we’ll travel along, Singing a song, Side by side’, perhaps?

        Or perhaps aim for higher class?

  9. Tracey 9

    Rock on everyone

  10. greywarshark 10

    Congratulations to all involved in setting up and keeping the site going. You are the elephants holding up Discworld! And to all who attempt to understand and seek new and better ways for all our futures thinking and positing their ideas. The rest repeat their rote learning like wind-up toys.

    And as Anne said.

  11. Colonial Viper 11

    Am glad to have done my wee little bit to contribute to the growing number of comments 😀

    • lprent 11.1

      Indeed. I must run the list again.

      But I think that you have slowed down considerably since you first started coming here.

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        Yep have certainly been less active commenting in the last year or so; prior to that I seemed to keep coming up in the top couple of most prolific commentators…

  12. Freemark 12

    1,000,000 comments in 7 years (2555 days) is around 391 per day, every day. Impressive yet surprising number.
    Some comments are long, some short, if we said an average of 5mins per comment that would be 83,000 hours or so.
    90% of these are probably whining about the PM, or the country, or the environment, or something that is not Left.
    Imagine what all that time could have been used for.. conservation works, counselling, educating the poor & oppressed about healthy lifestyles, cleaning their mould up, career options, etc, etc.
    But I guess the Labour, Green & Mana Parties are in better shape now than then…

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Please remember, there is no democracy or learning without discussion and debate.

    • Ad 12.2

      Freemark clearly you’re not in the network.

      Because in order to get stuff done, you need to be in one.

      Clue: this is the most powerful activist network in the country.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.3

      FreeCheapmark: a whinging whinger whinging about whinging. Imagine all the oxygen wasted by this amygdala on legs.

    • Tracey 12.4

      “Imagine what all that time could have been used for.. conservation works, counselling, educating the poor & oppressed about healthy lifestyles, cleaning their mould up, career options, etc, etc.”

      Tell us about your volunteerism Freemark

  13. Jum 13

    Congrats LPrent. Now I’m not up til all hours blogging on your site, I actually get to read more books. The Body Economic is a good one.
    Keep up the good work.

  14. Vaughan Little 14

    commenting on here is a bit weird, like speaking into the ether. I write like I’m addressing a mate who knows me and where I’m coming from. so far so good. despite the numbers reading, I often feel like my ideas are ignored when I don’t get responses, but I’m still glad for the opportunity to get my ideas down on paper in a public forum.

    • Tracey 14.1

      Hi Vaughan, in my experience if people disagree with you, they will reply 🙂

      So, it works for me to go on the assumption that if no one has replied, at least they are not attacking me 😉

    • weka 14.2

      it’s a funny place at times. Often it’s the inflammatory comments that get responses, which is one of the limitations of the robust debate culture here.

      And often the more thoughtful comments that don’t get replies, especially if the commenter is not a regular.

      I like to think about the the people reading who are far larger in number than the people commenting. Often I comment for them rather than the debate (although I’m here for the direct debate too).

      It’s the one thing that sways me in favour of a like button. I’d like to see the many unresponded to comments that add value to the place and politics in general get recognition. Lately I’ve been telling people sometimes when I like their comment, but there are far more comments I want to +1 than I can literally +1.

      If you want to get more involved in the debate, I found that taking the time to learn where people are coming from and how to engage with them is as important as the content, at least until one is known.

      • greywarshark 14.2.1

        I didn’t like the like button. Now I think I do like the like button. Gives an indication of interest, approval, and also I suppose there is a Not Like button which would be a useful response to have also. After thinking about it for a while I take back any objections I had to the Likes.

        It’s also better for the comment flow. Just a neat like not whole window/s with tiny +1 in it. And if really keen can still do the +100 to show enthusiasm.

        • weka

          I’ve felt similarly, and and coming round. Not sure about the dislike button, too many troles round here for me to trust that.

  15. Molly 15

    Not commenting as much since a couple weeks prior to the last election. If pushed I’d say a self-diagnosis of mild clinical depression after realising NZ voters did vote the Nats in again. Had an idea that was going to happen after seeing the No vote in the Scottish referendum.

    However, always check in on the Standard, mainly because of the ‘robust debate’ provided by authors and commenters alike. I credit this site for the development of a political awareness and critical view that I would not have otherwise.

    So – many thanks to lprent for managing the platform, the authors for their constant reminders of what informed and linked articles looks like, and all the commenters (including those regular right wing articulate ones) for taking time to have online conversations that I can eavesdrop in on.

    Might not be talking so much… but like others – still listening keenly.

    • greywarshark 15.1

      Vaughan Little
      “I often feel like my ideas are ignored when I don’t get responses, but I’m still glad for the opportunity to get my ideas down on paper in a public forum.”

      I feel the same way but it pays to remember that others are just visiting and reading and your good ideas, you hope, are providing thinkpieces for unseen and unheard viewers. But it would be good if there could be interaction between left supporters, not just between the wind-up toys and trolls, and Standardistas.

      RW points, in being trounced, require good thought by the leftie so that is helpful in sharpening views. But let’s talk to each other. If I ask a question why can’t I get a reply? Aren’t lefties interested in each other or just follow one or two favourites? Even a small criticism is a reaction that can extend thinking.

      and Molly
      ” I credit this site for the development of a political awareness and critical view that I would not have otherwise. ”
      Well put. I very much agree.

      • Rosie 15.1.1

        +1 Grey.

        This response is for Vaughan too (whose posts I have read 🙂 )

        Remember too there is a huge amount of information posted on TS daily. If one were to respond to the many fascinating points we’d spend the whole day on here. It would require quite a bit of focus and attention.

        I sometimes have questions go unanswered, even when they are directed at particular commenter’s. I figure those people are just very busy and even if they did get to read the question, didn’t get a chance to respond, or forgot to go back to it later (or in my case they thought the question was too daft to answer, but that doesn’t bother me).

        • greywarshark

          I make the point that daft questions from you would be very few. Usualy well thought out and lots of compassion.

          • weka

            I missed this conversation this morning (probably off arguing about something), but lovely to see the quiet thoughtful comments going on over here by the women standardistas (and vaughn!).

        • weka

          “Remember too there is a huge amount of information posted on TS daily”

          Which reminds me, you made this great, longish comment the other day about GST and I wanted to say to you that it would make a good guest post! (but it got lost in the deluge).

    • Rosie 15.2

      “Not commenting as much since a couple weeks prior to the last election. If pushed I’d say a self-diagnosis of mild clinical depression after realising NZ voters did vote the Nats in again. Had an idea that was going to happen after seeing the No vote in the Scottish referendum.”

      Hi Molly. I do live with depression and that weekend was just the worst. As a Scots descendant I was absolutely gutted about the Indyref result and then the next day we lost the election. I actually felt sick on the Sunday. Took a while to recover from that and I suspect those with normal health also were flat for some time.

      I didn’t comment here for quite some time after that.

      PS. I kept on eye on the excellent Scots political site, Bella Caledonia post referendum. I was impressed how the Scots talked through their despair. with acute clarity around their self awareness, personally and as a nation. They were up front and honest about the psychological impact it had on them. I didn’t see NZer’s doing much in the way of self reflection or addressing their reactions. I think it would have been helpful if we did.

      • Molly 15.2.1

        Thanks for your comment Rosie.

        I always enjoy reading your perspective on the Standard, and appreciate the candour that often comes with it, and the clarity your chosen words often provide.

        I will check out the Bella Caledonia site, thanks for that.

        For reminders of human kindness and progress, my go-to site is (I’m pretty sure that it was a comment by Draco that sent me there in the first place.)

  16. left for deadshark 16

    My two cents, many thanks too the Authors, commentators and especially Lynn.

    To the Standard Cheers !!!

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