Gawker's Commenting System Reaps Rewards

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Ben Cohen
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Take a look at the Gawker Media Empire's commenting figures over the past 5 years:

/gawkercommentcount.png

How has this been done? Joshua Benton explains:

Gawker implemented a
new, stricter commenting system
, in which trusted commenters get
preferred access to readers and the unknown hoi polloi have to audition
for an audience. (We
wrote about it at the time
; in an internal memo, Denton wrote about
“taking back the site from some commenters who thought they were in
charge” and said “we’ll be able to encourage the kind of discussion that
*we* want — not one that is dominated merely by the most prolific of
our commenters.

While not immediate, the long term effects have been largely positive for the Nick Denton empire:

As the chart shows, the shift led to an immediate decline in comment
volume. (Interestingly, the biggest drop seems to have been at Jezebel, Gawker’s women-centric site.
Attention communications and/or gender studies grad students: There’s a
thesis somewhere in there!) But comments quickly rebounded and have
since skyrocketed at a much faster slope than before the switch. Some of
that is no doubt related to Gawker’s
overall
increase
in traffic, but the scale of the increase is still remarkable.