When you look at the comments section of new articles these days, they rapidly become packed with really neat thoughts. (Especially if it’s a reader case study, or something relating to kids or, oddly enough, food). Increasingly, the new articles are setting records to the point where they end up popping up in that “Popular” tab to the right, so that it might as well just be a renamed “newest”. There have been over 10,000 comments on this blog in its 1.1 years of life, and I’m pretty sure I have read them all.
You might say, “Yeah yeah.. that’s just normal, every blogger is proud of their little community, and this is nothing unusual”. But it IS very unusual – we now get as many comments as the very biggest finance blogs in the world, yet according to my scientific sampling, your comments are far more useful. In fact, some people tell me that this is the only site where they read any comments – yet here they make a point of reading all of them, because they’re at least as interesting as the articles themselves!
The Forum is even more crazy, with about the same number of posts as the main blog and close to a million page views all by itself … since it opened less than 3 months ago. It’s all useful stuff with little to none of the pointless complaints or mindless fluff that permeates the broader Internet’s comment sections or forums, and it’s all instantly searchable through the website’s built-in search boxes.
But if this great craziness continues, we might soon surpass the scale of time that even a dedicated person can devote to reading comments. The volume could become too great to read and approve carefully, eventually leading to vast swaths of repeating arguments and one-liners like you get in a popular YouTube video or MSN article. The comments section needs to have a way to become self-limiting, so here’s an idea on how we might do it:
One reader proposed that we add a voting or democratic ranking system so that more popular comments rise to the top (similar to the topic-voting system on Reddit). That could be neat, although it might add more formality and competition than we need here.
So how about this:
If you’re thinking of writing a comment, just be sure to read every OTHER comment on that day’s article first. That will prevent people from writing the same idea more than once without realizing it, and it will also make it more and more daunting to add a comment as the list grows, because the amount of homework you have to do first will be so great. Who would read 200 comments and still have something unique to say? I don’t know, but we’d probably end up getting some VERY interesting things said towards the end of the list.
What do you think? I definitely don’t want to become bossy or in any way compromise the cool dynamic that has formed so far. But on the other hand, I want this place to remain a nice, sane hangout that is more like a meeting table in a library, than a parking lot in a shopping mall during the holidays.
Let’s just keep the idea on file, and if newcomers start getting too rowdy in the future, we’ll refer them back to this post so they can be schooled on The Rules.