What constitutes navel gazing? A Test Case

Paul Gronke

Kari wrote: If you didn't check in on BlueOregon over the holiday weekend, you missed a big story. In fact, my initial post about it generated over 270 comments - blowing away BlueOregon's previous record of 211.

When I read the responses, I got a very different impression: much ado about nothing.  Is this what a major Senate primary has turned into?

But perhaps Kari is right, perhaps this is a big story.  After all, it generated 270 comments... but from whom?

I counted the comments in the original thread, and it's hard not to conclude that this argument is being driven by four--yes, count them folks--four posters.  A grand total of 134 comments, nearly half the total, were posted by four individuals (lestatdelc leading the pack at 40, followed closely by Kevin with 37, James X shows at 34, and torrid joe uncharacteristically silent with just 23 posts). 

If we are a bit more generous with our standards, adding the always reliable LT (13), the voluble Jack Murray (12 posts), bdunn (12 posts), and pat malach (10 posts), we're up to 181/270 postings, or 66% of the postings (more than 2/3) by 8 people

Sorry, katie B (9), KC (8), and Chris Lowe (6), you just didn't cut the mustard.  Where is the outrage?!

I don't know how typical this pattern is, nor do I know how many unique eyeballs this blog receives every few days.  But "a big story"?  I'm pretty sure that one is hyperbole.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    FYI, in the interests of full information, I count 53 unique posters, using names as my guideline (I don't have IPs). The modal posting by far was one.

    The other interesting (annoying?) pattern was the posters who felt compelled to serial post, three or four times, talking to themselves. I won't name names, just scroll down the conversation.

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    It seems to me that the perceptions of what gravity to allocate that story or any other depends very much upon one's values and one's perspective.

    It's worth noting that one of the primary themes in that post and it's subsequent cousin posts is one that the overwhelming majority of commenters here and at every other lefty blog on the planet gleefully squander pixel after pixel on... when it is tied to the other side of the aisle.

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    Interesting stuff, Paul.

    I've always said that the number of comments doesn't necessarily correlate to how interesting, informative, or important a post is. Almost by definition, it would seem to correlate to how controversial it is.

    For example, a thoughtful post about the nuances of forest policy and prospects for reform may generate a few comments - but much offline conversation.... while a funny rant against the Bush Administration will likely generate dozens of comments - and nearly zero offline conversation.

    I did some comment analysis back in August.

    In August, we had 109 posts. They generated 3394 comments from 504 commenters. The average is 6.3 comments each - but that's hardly a useful stat.

    Rather, it follows a classic power-law curve. One commenter (lestatdelc) produced 220 comments. Five others produced over 100 each (torridjoe, Kari Chisholm, Stephanie V, East Bank Thom, Tom Civiletti). Those six folks were responsible for 29% of the total comments.

    Nine others did over 40 apiece. 46 commenters posted at least ten comments. Inclusive, the top 62 commenters were responsible for 69% of the comments.

    275 commenters (just over 50%) produced exactly one comment each. (Though that number is likely skewed by the handful of jerkoffs that insist on using the Name field like a Subject line.)

  • James X. (unverified)
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    I believe this constitutes navel gazing -- an entire article focused on the site and its commenters.

    And it does seem to be a pretty solid pattern that a handful of people comment most.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    I should note that I don't oppose meta discussions at all.

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    What's the comment to view ratio of say the New York Times...?

    Granted this corner of the blogsphere is nowhere near that in scale, scope, influence, etc.

    And granted that it is a bit silly to count comments as a metric of what constitutes a big or small story, but I posit that BlueOregon is not bad when it comes to the views to comment ratio.

    But what the heck do I know, I only post here (a lot it seems).

    (grin)

  • Harry (unverified)
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    7 comments... from Harry and the blowhards.

    Wow, 40 comments!?! Lesta, even without your spelling corrections, that's blowing hard.

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    Dang!

    Actually I'm sorry I made it above the fold, Paul.

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    I would also add, that a good 20% of my posts would disappear if I was a better typist and proof-read my posts a little more closely. Like the above one, where I would want to post a minor addendum... when I said New York Times, I was referring to their website and its news articles vs. their website forum comments section on articles.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    I believe this constitutes navel gazing

    Haha! James X wins.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Harry | Jan 22, 2008 4:49:31 PM 7 comments... from Harry and the blowhards. Wow, 40 comments!?! Lesta, even without your spelling corrections, that's blowing hard.

    Or perhaps just someone with a lot of points to make and to say. This is a "water-cooler" for progressive discussion. That's the beauty of this medium. Even if I posted twice as many comments as I do now, nothing prevents you from making your 7 comments or posts, or 700 hundred.

    Opps, I am posting more than anyone else in this thread as well. Guess I need to start sucking like those who only post 7 comments instead of blowing hard at 220.

    ;-)

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    I would also add, that a good 20% of my posts would disappear if I was a better typist and proof-read my posts a little more closely.

    Can I just make a plea for stopping that pattern? If your typo is easily understood by readers, and doesn't change the meaning of your comment, there's no reason to correct your spelling.

    For that matter, use Firefox as your browser. It's got an instant spellchecker built into every comment form entry box.

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    look! It says right here I was "uncharacteristically silent. "

    "Uncharacteristically" does mean "as usual," right? I can't swing a dead cat without being called Silent Joe these days..

  • James X. (unverified)
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    TJ is a notorious wallflower.

  • Terry (unverified)
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    Well done Paul!

    It just goes to show you that blogs certainly have far less influence on the outcome of elections than the average rabid blogger thinks.

    Blue Oregon has become something of an echo chamber of late. (Which is really too bad. I check in every day.)

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Terry, blogs reach influentials -- reporters, insiders, activists, opinion-makers, people who talk to their friends about issues. Some people have held the story about Kimmerly to a standard of, "If my friend isn't interested in it, it's not a story." But this isn't a general-interest outlet. If that's what you want, turn to Fox 12 Oregon, the area's highest-rated news operation.

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    I'd like to offer my profound sympathy for all of the delicate flowers who are shocked, shocked, by this unseemly behavior.

    I also wish that I had sufficient hankies for all of the folks who have been reduced to tears on these "sad" occasions of intraparty rivalry. The lovely Stephanie seems to be on the verge right over the Thread That Must not be Named. Her dismay at the behavior of the awful Merkley partisans is truly heart rending.

    Like my dear dear friend John Kerry told us repeatedly in '04, "Help is on the way." Although he turned out to be wrong about that, I will go out on a limb here and predict that excepting a few predictable mourners for what should-have-been-if-only, there will be a precipitous dropoff in both the ridiculous parsing language and and fulsome tears right around May 20th.

    Just guessing.

    Anyhow, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye, and if you don't like these threads, as Paul points out, there were just three threads on the senate primary in the last several days.

    If you are in despair, conflict averse, or feel that these issues are inappropriate topics of conversation, by all means stick to the ones where all the commenters agree regarding morality, standards of behavior, or at least have a common enemy that can be safely vilifed without consequences.

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    Thanks, Pat. Great comment.

    Another random bit of BlueOregon trivia: Since we launched on July 17, 2004, we've had 4,459 posts and 91,489 comments. (OK, counting this one: 91,490.)

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    I think we may need some perspective. At least here on BO, we tend to discuss issues of some importanance, with an occasional light subject thrown in. Go over to Topix.com sometime and read all the idiotic comments posted there by the same mental midgets, day after day. It's an unfortunate feature of my ISP (Juno) and the so-called news content they provide. I'll admit I do have fun baiting those morons. Guess I enjoy playing the occasional troll, when it's against close-minded, rightwing nutballs. Anyway, I won't complain if my friend Mitch or some of the others make more posts than I do, somebody has to be the most prolific in any endeavor or medium. Or would we prefer if the news was "fair and balanced"? Now lets see how many post about Juno vs Gmail vs Etc we can generate!

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Is it any surprise that Kari uses his blog to push his client's cause via minor "scandals" and, at the same time, obscure the fact that he is even a client...? Indeed, he even insinuated that he worked for Novick in his post!

    This site once seemed pretty progressive, but now just another cog in a machine. Nice to know, for future Chisholm clients, that you get the full "blog swarm" on blueoregon...

  • Andy Warhol (unverified)
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    Every blogger will be famous to 15 people.

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    Posted by: Peter Bray | Jan 22, 2008 9:42:47 PM

    Odd, I was originally a supporter of Steve Novick until the constant slow stream of negative attacks by his bloggers against Merkley began to reassess the team around him in December. So if I am the biggest component of the Mandate Media "blog swarm", it is kinda ironic when idiotic assertions like yours are put forward that somehow I and others who support Merkley are part of some Mandate Media service.

  • Mike Schryver (unverified)
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    I've avoided commenting on this entire affair so far, but I draw the line at Fox12 being referred to as a "news operation".

  • (Show?)

    Is it any surprise that Kari uses his blog to push his client's cause via minor "scandals" and, at the same time, obscure the fact that he is even a client...?

    Are you kidding? I've never obscured my client list in my life. As you well know, I post my disclosure on every blog post I write - and on every comment that I post on anyone else's blog. Seriously....

    Indeed, he even insinuated that he worked for Novick in his post!

    Only to you. After squinting hard, I figured out how you could mis-read that from my blog post -- but it's not like anyone who reads here thinks I work for Novick. That's hilarious.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Well, Kari, if I hadn't Goggled my name, I would not have known I was mentioned here [joking].

    I think navel gazing [navel-gazing?] is mostly in the eye of the beholder. Sure, people can go on and on and not say very much, but at times here, on BlueOregon, frequent commentators represent or actively support a campaign or cause. They are spokespeople in a public forum. That is a legitimate function the commentator may be served well or not so well.

    The Italian is "meditazione sterile." So, maybe it's navel gazing if the arguments are poor and the information not accurate, and not navel gazing if the comments are on target.

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    By the way... since we're having a meta-discussion here...

    I thought I'd let you all know that we've begun taking active steps on the big re-engineering of BlueOregon. Bought a dedicated server and everything today.

    The new BlueOregon will still allow anonymous comments, but will substantially reward commenters who are willing to register and verify their identities. We'll also have a comment-rating system (perhaps in phase 2) that will help the good stuff rise to the top. And most interestingly, we're going to create some community-building tools here - taking the lessons learned from successful social networking sites and putting them to work at BlueOregon.

    I'm looking forward to it!

  • Mike Schryver (unverified)
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    That's the best news I've heard all day, Kari.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Tom Civiletti | Jan 22, 2008 11:37:28 PM I think navel gazing [navel-gazing?] is mostly in the eye of the beholder.

    Well, yeah ...

    Just like the endlessly receding Land '0 Lakes Butter Indian maiden.

  • (Show?)
    I also wish that I had sufficient hankies for all of the folks who have been reduced to tears on these "sad" occasions of intraparty rivalry. The lovely Stephanie seems to be on the verge right over the Thread That Must not be Named. Her dismay at the behavior of the awful Merkley partisans is truly heart rending.

    Thanks for the kind words, Pat, but there's a world of difference between dismay and disgust. Easy mistake for you to make, though!

    (smooooooooch)

  • Rose Wilde (unverified)
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    Excellent news Kari. I've often wanted to follow up/connect with another poster here for more information off line, and I hope the new tools will facilitate this networking.

    As for the quality of posting -- well, I hope it works to keep the discussion moving, but still allows people who are learning the ropes to ask questions/make slightly off the wall comments while we learn the territory.

    I might be a little off the wall at times... :)

  • (Show?)

    What!?! I didn't win? I.. I.. didn't even crack the top ten?

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Not that I'm bitter or anything, but I notice that lestatdelc is always posting spelling and grammar corrections.

    Ha! That shouldn't count! I never correct anything!

    Well, OK. Maybe it was too much of a blowout for me to complain about all those bad calls that cost me the game. So... maybe next year.

  • pat malach (unverified)
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    We should all applaud lestatdelc's non-stop corrections in his comments of even the most meaningless typos.

    I'd try and correct all my mistakes, but nobody's got that kind of time.

    Endeavor to persevere, lestatdelc.

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