Site health – comments and posts

Written By: - Date published: 4:31 pm, February 12th, 2012 - 36 comments
Categories: admin, The Standard - Tags:

vto made a comment that he thought that the number of comments was diminishing at kiwiblog. Now I have no idea because I usually avoid the sewer that is the comments section there. However it did remind me that I should have a look at the last year or so here. It feels like it has been getting more popular, but intuition is a poor substitute for actually looking at the numbers.

So I ran some SQL against the comments table pulling out the numbers of approved comments and the number of posts with approved comments*, tossed it into LibreOffice Calc and pulled out some numbers.

So looking at the yearly picture for full years, our comments are rising in the last few years and our posts remain pretty constant, so our comments per post has been rising.

The Standard – yearly comments and posts 
Year Comments Posts Comments per Post
2008 64218 2199 29.20
2009 64594 2687 24.04
2010 94558 2888 32.74
2011 131249 2595 50.58

We have been keeping the numbers of posts limited because we’re not really that interested in burning out authors. We all have lives outside of the blogs, don’t want to spend our lives writing posts, and don’t really want to become some kind of news clipping service. You can see the election year effect in 2008 and 2011.

The question for this site in 2012 is if we keep similar numbers of the readers and commentators, and their page views and comments post election year.

You can see the post election slump in December 2008 and Jan 2009 had a virtual reprise of the December 2010 and 2012, albeit from a much higher base and for much the same reasons. The effects of the very short election season in 2011 shows in our comments which actually decreased while the world cup was on in September and the first part of October and then went through the roof after the final game.

But there has been healthy growth throughout the year and the numbers for the latter part of Jan and early Feb point to the comments on the site remaining pretty healthy, but unlikely to repeat the November numbers for a while. Probably in the post-winter commenting boosts. But of course commentators don’t just come to argue with each other. They come for the posts as well.

And then we look at the numbers of posts. There you can see the usual post election slump adding to the usual reduction in authors writing. But overall we maintaining the numbers of posts with spiking going on in times of interest. However what we are seeing is a change upwards in the number of comments per post.

 The spike in later 2007 and early 2008 shows exactly what happens when there is no moderation. You get a considerable increase in trash commenting as the trolls pile in. The average size of the comments goes down (if I get time I’ll put a post up on that) and you notice the lousy commentators drowning out anyone that looks interesting – the sewer provides a good example. When the moderation kicks in and becomes effective the number of comments slumps but the size of the comments, their quality increases, and you see interesting commentators return.

But since early 2010 we have had a steady increase both in the number of comments and crucially in the number of commentators.  We’re also seeing that interesting effect that even when the authors are taking their hard earned rest and the numbers of posts decrease, the commnets carry on as people make their own fun. The threaded nature of the comments sections makes it feasible to do.

Not everyone is particularly happy with the style of moderation on this site or even the style of the site. But it works and I’m more than happy with what we’re doing together.

* Code:

SELECT
YEAR(comment_date) as year,
MONTH(comment_date) as month,
COUNT(*) as comments,
COUNT(DISTINCT comment_post_id) as posts
FROM wp_comments
WHERE comment_approved=1
GROUP BY YEAR(comment_date), MONTH(comment_date)
ORDER BY YEAR(comment_date), MONTH(comment_date)

This particular query eliminates the small number of posts that have no comments (mostly from 2007) and includes the few image pages that have comments that were never moved.  It is close enough for my purposes.

36 comments on “Site health – comments and posts”

  1. G 1

    Whle you are talking about site health… can you please restore the RSS feed to the entire post? For some of us, work tracks what we look at, but they are too dumb (to be fair, their programme is too dumb) to realise that reader.google.com is Google Reader and not Google Search (which could be work-related). So I read blogs through RSS feeds only.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      There was a problem where posts that were edited/updated did not have those edits reflected in the RSS feed. Sometimes posts are put up with chunks missing or error that are later corrected, but people reading the RSS feed didn’t see the updates.

      I think turning the RSS off was the short-term workaround for this problem.

    • lprent 1.2

      Plus the overseas traffic running on the RSS feed. The spam bots have been reading the RSS feed to look for new posts, which they then try to spam. Since there are literally thousands of the little buggers and I have no easy way to determine that they are spam there is no easy way to discriminate. I wish I could get at google analytics spambot discriminators. I’d use them on the reader and RSS reader side.

      The RSS feed got dropped from full to excerpt on about the 10th of last month. Since then we have dropped a lot of overseas traffic Gb compared to December. That costs $3 + GST per Gb.

      Of course the actual solution around NZ’s crazy costs for overseas traffic (when are we getting some competition for the southern cross?) is to bounce an up to date replication to a US server and let the rest of the world read their 45GB/month from there while NZ read their local ~300GB/month per month of it. However it costs about 50GB of overseas traffic to maintain a replication on a site that is this active.

      Of course I could fix everything by moving everything back to a US server. Of course it I did that then the actual traffic over the southern would increase to the full 300GB and the response times would slow.

      I have been playing with a astrill VPN setup at present. Hopefully that will push the replication costs elsewhere out of my budget. But I am finding it hard to get it to restart the connections reliably when I put in failures.

      Next one I am going to try is to change the RSS feeder to discriminate between known ‘good’ aggregation sites (like Google reader and feedburner) and everyone else. To be precise only allow a couple of feeders to use the RSS feeds.

      • infused 1.2.1

        Use a better provider. DTS don;t charge for outbound, which is what most of your traffic is.

        • lprent 1.2.1.1

          If it is the provider I just looked at then they don’t do dedicated servers. They do have collocation rackspace, but in Wellington and Christchurch. But I really don’t have time to chase around with hardware anyway. Their GB rates for the racks look ruinous for our volumes. http://dts.net.nz/hosting/co-location/ $6 + GST per 5Gb per month. We move at least 300GB per month.

          Unless there is something I am not seeing?

  2. Gruntie 3

    I mostly read the standard on my iphone 4s – (no I’m not a rich prick) but find The Standard blog the most buggy if all blogs – very slow and crashes a lot – have given up writing comments lately ( also coincided with my depression following 26 Nov 2011)
    Does anyone else have same issue with iOS on iPhone?

    • McFlock 3.1

      I got a similarissue on my android – but then it was the only blog I looked at that 100+ comments in a thread, so figured it was just that.
      Bloody stupid trying to go through all those with a 4″ screen 🙂

    • lprent 3.2

      I will have a look at it. We’re using the wpPhone ‘theme’ for phones. I have to confess that I haven’t tested it for a while.

      I should probably look at finding or even writing a barebones themes for the smart phones. Most of the ones I’ve looked at appear to be too sluggish when there are large numbers of comments with our 3G data. They need to paginate them.

    • Trowlie 3.3

      I’m the same on my iPhone. The page takes an age to load and will then crash as soon as I start to scroll down.

    • SHG 3.4

      Agreed – The Standard is a dog with the mobile theme enabled.

      • lprent 3.4.1

        Looking around for another theme. Tried it out on the my old iphone 3G yesterday and it was sluggish on wifi! It was interesting because the theme wasn’t nearly as bad last time I used it.

  3. Congrats Lprent.  Good to see the Standard is going from strength to strength.

    One thing I am interested in.  Did the 2011 post election dip occur before or after the Labour leadership campaign?  My impression is that the campaign caused considerable interest but it may be that it was amongst the Labour members rather than your readership as a whole.

    • lprent 4.1

      After. We had a hell of a spike for the leadership campaign. The December figures look like they dropped a lot, but the reality is that they are higher than almost every month.

      When it hit Dec 25 the page views dropped to about 5k per day and stayed there until the Ports of Auckland dispute.resurfaced in Jan. Comments had the same effect.

  4. Tangled up in blue 5

    vto made a comment that he thought that the number of comments was diminishing at kiwiblog.

    Imo “lefties” should stay away from Kiwiblog completely. I mean don’t even go there for a laugh to see what those clowns are up to. Giving it traffic is unnecessary and indirectly supports the site. It used to be that a left voice on there was helpful to show up the usual biased tripe but lately (since about a month before last election) it’s gotten so hard-right and hateful that people are realising it’s just a place for angry 1% Act supporters to rage. Stay away and let Kiwiblog fade into obscurity.

    • Populuxe1 5.1

      Really? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I like to know what the bastards are saying, otherwise you’re just reinforcing the stereotype that the Left lives in an ivory tower.

      • McFlock 5.1.1

        Much as I tend to agree with the sentiment, if they’re saying anything much more tory than kk, james3 or so on I probably wouldn’t want to burn my eyeballs.

  5. Anne 6

    Imo “lefties” should stay away from Kiwiblog completely.

    Absolutely. Don’t give Farrablog the traffic. He holds it up as evidence of his supposed political insight and importance. The MSM are too thick – or lazy – to investigate the reality.

  6. Blue 7

    @Anne – “Imo “lefties” should stay away from Kiwiblog completely.’,Absolutely”

    Ah yes, ‘we can’t debate, so lets run away’, Why am I not surprised that you’re not prepared to listen to an opposing view. Ever wonder why the National Party handed you your asses again? Its this sort of head in the sand thinking that costs you your support. Mindless stuff.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Why should anyone be prepared to listen to shite? You know like how selling off our country is good for us, how kicking the poor a bit harder will be “motivational” or how SOEs don’t need to respect Treaty obligations after being sold off.

      Ever wonder why the National Party handed you your asses again?

      You must be talking about the National led coalition which came in 4 seats down on 2008.

    • McFlock 7.2

      “Opposing view” is one thing.
      Calling people “parasites” is another thing entirely.
      One will never persuade people who freely use that (and similar language) to recognise that society extends beyond their personal chequebook, and their pretensions to logic are futile at best. “Debating” with them on their territory lends them a legitimacy they don’t deserve.
         
      Let KB become a mad corner of the internet, the NZ equivalent of militias and supremacists. After a while even the corporate media will have to admit that “newsworthy” story needs to be based on something more than the fanciful masturbations of a national party tool.

    • Gosman 7.3

      Interestingly I’d hazzard a guess that the posts with the mosts comments are the ones that have the most right wing comments on them. So to make a big deal about this stat you also have to acknowedge that opposing comment viewpoints make the blog more popular. You just need to lookat what has happened to Tumeke since Martyn Bradbury elbowed aside Tim Selwyn and implemented his Stalinist moderation policy. I believe the blog averages in the low single digits now per post.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.3.1

        And here’s me thinking that it was Tumeke’s layout and general user unfriendliness that did it.

        • Gosman 7.3.1.1

          How has that changed over the past couple of years?

        • just saying 7.3.1.2

          I’ve tried to comment at Tumeke and been unable to navigate the system.

          While it’s true posts that generate large numbers of comments are often those that generate debate and or argument (often over several days) it is just as likely (if not more) to be between differing views within the left. I think the overwhelming majority of regular commenters here come here to read the posts, follow some links, and exchange ideas with other left-wingers, and even those willing to engage the regular trolls do so mostly as a side-sport.

  7. Rich 9

    I actually think you can have too many comments (though maybe not from a revenue point of view).

    I tend to have this site down my list because of the number of Tories that comment on it (along with the Grauniad). If I wanted to know what RWS think, I’d read the mass media or listen to talkback.

    If there was a Tory-free politics site with reasonable traffic, I’d read it a lot.

    • lprent 9.1

      Yeah, well there is always that. But in their defence, the RWS that survive here tend to be somewhat “smarter” than those who frequent the mass media or talkback or the sewer. I feel it is healthy for the left to engage with the right, partially for the cross-fertilisation, but also because left activists tend to start arguing over minutiae of dogma that few voters care about if they are only talking to the like minded.

      The filter mechanism is simple. We are interested in people who can and will argue. We tend to turf the commentators that don’t appear to have a brain and simply repeat statements over and over again like some kind of dumbarse parrot – in other words the talkback crowd. Cameron Slater is pretty good example of the genre.

      In the usual link between stupidity, short-term thinking, arrogance, and conservative, the bulk of the right get winnowed here because they simply can’t help themselves. They drop into repetitive or troll behaviours, attack the authors, or pick up one of the other site’s Darwin awards that we will moderate for and ban on.

      There are some on the left with the similar dogmatic ways, but I generally find them either indignantly dropping off the site or changing their behaviour when they get a warning.

      Obviously I like the balance. It covers a pretty wide range of the political spectrum, it is pretty well limited to people who can and do argue mostly without too much rancour and aren’t too thin-skinned. And with the exception of the prohibitions about our losing authors allows a lot of freedom in what can be commented about.

      Tory-free politics site with reasonable traffic

      I have seen a few over the years – there were several interesting ones in the usenet days and you can find some quite doctrinaire ones in various places. I haven’t been that impressed. The further they seem to get from having to actually win votes in general elections, the less rational they seem to be.

      In my opinion their comments sections usually look distinctly like the bullying behaviour in the sewer. Fortunately they seldom seem to last that long as being busy with comments either.

    • lprent 9.2

      Oh and comments don’t seem to have that much of a correlation with page views, unique visitors or what data I have on clickthru. Those are what attracts advertisers and what the site gets paid for on the advertising.

      The best overall correlation for those things is with what is happening in the political world and what is not getting reported. We get enormous numbers of hits when the media start missing a story or trying to spin it. The Ports of Auckland dispute is the most recent example (26k page views in a day), with the Crafar farms one less so. I’ve been intrigued with this for a while because it tends to indicate that people bullshit meters go off the scale then and they come and see what we are saying.

  8. Same issue. Goes crazy once the comments get to about 50.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Time for a breather on immigration
    National has no idea how to house the record number of people entering New Zealand, let alone cope with the pressure on health, education, and transport from this record population growth, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. ...
    1 day ago
  • Labour to invest $4 billion in education
    Labour’s Education Manifesto will bring positive change across the education sector and is backed by a massive investment, says Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “Labour’s plan will see an extra $4 billion invested over the next four years. It’s organised ...
    1 day ago
  • National’s shame: worst homelessness in the OECD
    National’s legacy is a housing crisis that has given New Zealand the worst homeless rate in the developed world, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour taking action on school donations
    Labour will end so-called voluntary school donations for the majority of parents across the country under its $4 billion plan to revitalise the education sector, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Labour has always been committed to a world-class free education ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour to work with Queenstown to build more houses
    Labour will work with Queenstown-Lakes District Council, iwi, and the Community Housing Trust to build the modern, affordable housing Queenstown desperately needs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 days ago
  • Nats blow the Budget on motels after bowling state houses
    National is spending $140,000 a day putting homeless families in motels, the legacy of nine years of selling off and knocking down state houses, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 days ago
  • New revelations in Joanne Harrison report
    The State Services Commission’s report into the treatment of whistle-blowers by Joanne Harrison has revealed new accusations against the convicted fraudster, says Labour MP Sue Moroney.  “The report found that four staff inside the Ministry of Transport who had raised ...
    2 days ago
  • Snafu at Princess Margaret
    Jonathan Coleman has to stop the stalling over a new building for mental health services in Christchurch to replace the quake damaged Princess Margaret Hospital, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “The Government must accept that Christchurch is still recovering ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour’s fiscal plan to build a fairer New Zealand
    Labour will re-build our housing, health and education while responsibly managing New Zealand’s finances, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “Under Labour’s Fiscal Plan we will deliver big investments in the services we all need and care about, invest ...
    3 days ago
  • Nats show they’re the tax dodgers’ best friends
    The government is taking the knife to IRD at a time when we need a highly skilled department to ensure that multinationals and speculators don’t get away with dodging tax, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour secures the future for NZ Super
    A Labour Government will secure the future for New Zealand Superannuation so we can continue to provide superannuation to those retiring at age 65, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “One of the first things a Labour-led Government will ...
    4 days ago
  • Multinationals must pay fair share of tax
    A Labour Government will crack down on multinational companies that are dodging paying their fair share of tax, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “New Zealanders are missing out by hundreds of millions according to the IRD because multinational companies can ...
    5 days ago
  • ACT’s approach to children backward and ill informed
    Act’s new deputy leader’s claim that Labour’s support for families could “extend the misery of child poverty and even child abuse” is ill informed and offensive, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury hatchet job a disgrace
    The Government’s glib acceptance of advice that the Canterbury District Health Board doesn’t need more money is a hatchet job and a disgrace, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson David Clark. “To claim that the DHB was using tactics to leverage more ...
    1 week ago
  • Quality for Kiwi kids at ECE
    After more than a decade of rapid growth in the number of children participating in Early Childhood Education (ECE), it’s time to take stock and map out a clear plan for the future, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to boost ECE quality
    Labour will ensure kids get the best start in life by boosting funding for Early Childhood Centres to employ 100 per cent qualified and registered teachers, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will stump up a million dollars for Maniototo Hospital
    A Labour led Government will make a million dollars available to rebuild the Maniototo Base hospital in Ranfurly, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “This will be a much needed boost for a long overdue rebuild that has ...
    1 week ago
  • No vision for the West Coast
    The West Coast welcomes any Government investment in our region but the lack of any real alternative vision for the West Coast’s economy is disappointing, says Damien O’Connor Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP.  “The establishment of a Mining Research Unit will ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s youth work scheme too little too late
    After nine years, National’s belated attempt to provide work opportunities for unemployed youth should be seen for what it is, a half-hearted, election gimmick from a party that’s ignored the problem till now, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Kiwis won’t fall for Joyce’s spin
    Steven Joyce’s embarrassingly obvious spin on Labour’s Families Package won’t fool anyone, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour prioritises families and public services
    Labour’s Families Package delivers a bigger income boost to more than 70 per cent of families with children than Budget 2017. By not spending $1.5 billion a year on tax cuts, Labour is able to do more for lower and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis can’t sleep in your ghost houses, Nick
    The Government’s housing infrastructure announcement is another Nick Smith special – over-promising with no detail on delivery, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour helps older New Zealanders and low income families with winter heating bills
    Labour will further boost its commitment to warm, healthy housing with a Winter Energy Payment for superannuitants and people receiving main benefits, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Everyone deserves a warm, healthy home to live in. But that’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must rule out retrospective override for Ruataniwha
    National must categorically rule out using retrospective legislation to override the Supreme Court’s decision that the land swap of conservation land flooded by the proposed Ruataniwha Dam was illegal, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney General David Parker. “Having not got their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Flavell’s failure a win for Māori landowners
    The Māori Development Minister’s admission that his unpopular Ture Whenua Māori Bill won’t pass into law prior to the election is a victory for Māori landowners, but only a change of government will keep the Bill gone for good, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Stats confirm growing housing shortfall
    National’s failure to fix the housing shortage has been starkly illustrated by new statistics, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Systemic abuse of kids in state care
    After admitting there was systemic abuse of children in State care the Government must do the right thing and launch an independent inquiry, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Migrant worker exploitation needs sharper focus
    The astonishing number of employers found guilty of exploiting migrants shows that migrant exploitation is a serious problem in New Zealand, says Labour Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “A total of 53 companies have been banned from recruiting ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister faces questions over dam debacle
    Today’s Supreme Court ruling dismissing an appeal to allow a land swap for the controversial Ruataniwha Dam is a victory for our conservation estate and Hawke’s Bay ratepayers, but leaves the Conservation Minister with serious questions to answer, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Too little too late on Wellington housing
    The announcement today on social housing in Wellington by the National Government is a pitiful and cynical election ploy, says Labour’s Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson. “In 2012 Housing New Zealand emptied out the Gordon Wilson Flats, taking 130 places ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Foreign trusts wilt in the sunlight, but more transparency needed
    The fact that the numbers of foreign trusts registered in New Zealand has plummeted after the Government’s belated and reluctant imposition of a new reporting regime, in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, shows the need for a transparent, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech by Grant Robertson: The Future of Work and Labour’s Economic Vision
    At the election in September voters will face a choice between a government led by Andrew Little with a fresh approach to give every New Zealander a fair share in prosperity or the continuation of a tired government, out of ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Swimmable Rivers Tour: Waikato
    Last week, we rolled up to the mighty Waikato on the final day of our swimmable rivers tour. Co-Leader James Shaw, Denise Roche MP and I started our day in Horotiu where the primary school has been focussing on the ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    3 weeks ago
  • Nats’ failure to train young people contributes to housing stall
    Budget documents forecast that housing construction will stall in the coming year, despite the massive housing shortage, and National’s failure to train young people in building trades is partly to blame, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago