There have been some questions floating around about why there are so few comments left at the Episcopal Cafe.
For one: because of the fact that you have to register to comment on the site. It’s an extra step that many probably don’t want to take; it’s (much, much) easier to be anonymous.
Also, it seems as if they don’t really want comments, mostly; many articles are simply statements, or news blurbs (as on the Lead page). Maybe writers should ask for comments, or make proposals and see what kinds of varying views there are.
Also, the articles (on the Lead) scroll off the page fairly quickly and into the ether forever; I rarely bother to go back to search for them.
Also, since the blog comes mainly from the “liberal” side – what’s to argue with? The majority of Episcopalians are liberal-leaning (I guess), and so there’s no controversy. Controversy – and the feeling of being the underdog and fighting the good fight – are much more likely to raise commentary, I’d think.
The stuff on Daily Episcopalian is sometimes very interesting – I was surprised to see your “fasting” article got so many comments, BTW! – but there doesn’t seem to be anything to say after reading many of them. (Perhaps this is because some are written by scholars on subjects that others don’t know much about.) I think posts need to be more challenging to the status quo, maybe, to get comments.
This is a bit cynical (and I mean no offense to my readers by it — I think it’s just human nature), but I’ve found that the most theologically-motivated, carefully-argued stuff that I write gets by far the least comments. Political stuff tends to either start a big flame war or get zero-to-one comments, too.
The best way to get tons of comments is to write about something small and nitpicky (liturgical stuff, in the case of my blog). That always touches off a string a forty or so comments. ;-)
To cast these phenomena in a more positive light, I think it’s harder to respond to another person’s carefully argued post on a topic where they have expertise. Stuff where everyone feels like they have the right to offer their $0.02 draws more comments. My own experience of Episcopal Cafe is that the posts there, subtracting out pure church/society news, tends toward the former. I like it — that’s part of why I read Episcopal Cafe and wade through church politics I don’t care about. But it means I only comment every month or two.
I just caught bls’s comment, which was posted at the same time as mine.
The thing about scrolling off the page is important, as are other design concerns. You have to make it easy to follow threads. I started getting far more comments when I listened to the readers and added a “Recent Comments” plugin that made following several threads easier.
(BTW, Derek: my post above didn’t come out exactly as I meant it! I meant I was surprised at the level of interest in fasting, not that I was surprised people responded!
Honestly, there should be more posts that challenge basic assumptions, I think. There needs to be more debate in order to draw comments – which can only happen when there are a variety of possible positions, and when people feel like they can contribute something to the discussion.
It’s nice to have some articles be from the scholarly point of view, or whatever – but most people have nothing to add, since we often don’t know much about the topics. And something from the non-ordained, more often, would be good, too.)
I’ve wondered about that myself.
What Fr Chris said. For example in a very popular blog, Fr Jake, entries strictly about religion get comments in the low double digits if that. The ones on church politics are obviously the real draw, with comments going through the roof, numbering in the 200s. In contrast the theological, right-centrist Anglican blog Covenant seems to have little activity. Not as slow as Episcopal Café but like that.
And as bls said Episcopal Café is a house organ playing for its own people so there are no real discussions and perhaps they don’t want them anyway.
Covenant is another one that requires registration, BTW. It’s a definite drag on comment activity, I think, although I can understand why people do it. Maybe you just have to accept the lower level of activity as a given?
EC should really have more debate topics; maybe a “Point/Counterpoint” sort of thing? If it wants debate, that is, and maybe it doesn’t. It’s true that TEC is still a small body defending against a huge opposition in the worldwide church; maybe its membership needs a “safe place” to be at present. (They still could debate non-church issues, though.)
I have to point out that your own blog gets a lot of comments, which are overwhelmingly interesting and also civil. So whatever it is you’re doing, then?
Well, one reader put it this way: I pull together topics and ideas from several sources/groups/ideologies (that people don’t normally associate with each other) and use them to present a unique message.
fogey, I meant this blog, Derek’s Haligweorc. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
(I’ve only been to your blog a couple of times, so wouldn’t be able to comment on it….)
For example, Derek: every thread on the first page of Haligweorc has comments on it.
The big one is the RCL rant thread, though; if we could analyze why that thread got so many comments, we’d have the answer, I think. Basically, I’d say it’s because it’s from a very human point of view – the rant, something we all understand – from somebody who’s willing to listen to all sides (nobody feels shut out at this blog) and still offer informed commentary. And it’s something that affects us all, and that everybody can have an opinion on.
As BLS pointed out, the need to “register” severely limits interest in commenting. I don’t comment on either Episcopal Cafe or Covenent for that reason. I wrote a post about it several months back that can be found here:
(As an aside, isn’t it interesting how many comments a thread about comments can generate?)
No problem, bls. This one isn’t half bad. :)
Yeah, liturgical fights are always guaranteed to generate comments here. But then, I think most of the regulars here are pretty passionate about liturgy.
YF, the Cafe’s set up by the Diocese of DC but I wouldn’t call it a house organ. I’ve never had any of my content questioned even when–like my series on Communion and Baptism–it goes against certain trends favored at certain levels. btw–do you onsider T19 a house organ also?
bls, I’ve been pleased that things here have usually stayed civil. I try to keep my attitude when posting open and respectful particularly on issues where there re disagreements and try to see it from several different sides and the comments I get tend to b in the same vein.
I never considered T19 a house organ. Was it set up by a diocese? I thought of it earlier – its com-boxes are lively.
I always forget my password.
YF, you don’t think T19’s a house organ? I do–it’s just for a different house…
As I understanded it, Fr. Harmon was a central figure in the Network’s creation and T19 was a major organ for its growth, development, and promotion.
Good point. But its com-boxes are jumpin’. EC’s aren’t.
True. And it’s com-boxes can get very ugly which the Cafe’s don’t.
I think a major influence on both is allowing psuedonymity.
You are right to the degree that I think part of T19’s original purpose was to provide a place for voices of dissent and that’s not one of the Cafe’s purposes. Though, to the best of my knowledge, dissent is not suppressed there.
But T19’s constituency is for the most part a bunch of malcontents, and the most comments come on posts where they can tear down TEC or +KJS or popular culture or feminism. To Kendall+’s credit he posts a lot of thoughtful news pieces, but they get far fewer comments. Also to his credit he tries to monitor the nastiness, but it does get ugly over there (but not as ugly as it does at Stand Firm).
I think Fr. Chris’ reasons fit with my own experience…something serious is far less likely to get comments than something frivolous or trivial. I read the Cafe every day but I only comment occasionally myself.
Not to get too culture-warry or uncharitable, but my experiences on T19 agree with Rev Dr Mom’s. I remember responding to a thread about two “policemen” who were married — in fact it was a female police officer and a male one. My folks encountered ridiculous sexism from “firemen” when my mother joined the volunteers, so I’m sensitive about sexist language of that sort. I brought it up and was attacked not only by the commenters, but by Canon Harmon himself.
Not a nice place.
(Not that Fr Jake’s is much better, on the left. YF and I have talked about that in the past — I don’t read it anymore because of the tone there.)
No, Fr. Jake’s is not better.
my experience is that things stay pretty civil as long as everyone stays within a certain range of positions. there can be some disagreement and debate but it takes place within an agreed upon framework (the “house” as it were). at T19 or standfirm or any of the right leaning blogs, calling attention to sexist language is outside of that range and I’m not at all surprised you were met with hostility.
I don’t comment on that many of your posts, derek, especially when they’re on liturgical issues because I either agree with you or I’m neutral on the issue. It’s usually the former. I usually agree. In any case, I don’t feel like I have anything much to add.
If I do happen to disagree with you on something, well…my ideas always falls within the acceptable range here, so I keep it to myself.
I mean they don’t always fall within the acceptable range. sorry.
Derek (post 17), I don’t read T19 very often but I’ve definitely seen comments on T19 removed, particularly when things get nasty and someone posts something that crosses a line. One post where that happened *began* with a comment about the poster wanting to wipe his rear end with the NRSV, so I can understand why one of his comments got axed. Interestingly, the reason for deletion (I’m speculating) involved profanity or sheer vileness of language–not theological view, as the poster seemed quite conservative (and was quite upset to have been censored!).
Nevertheless, if more liberal voices drop out fairly quickly under the sheer volume of hostile responses, and no one speaks up or does anything about it, isn’t that a form of corporate censorship? Ditto in the other direction.
As several people have already mentioned, one of the reasons I like this blog is the level of civility and openmindedness that I’ve seen among all the people who post here.
Following up on a previous comment, I think all of us have moments of disagreement with what others say here; I think we all have ideas and thoughts that are “outside the acceptable range” – and we all keep them to ourselves.
Which says, I’d think, that the “acceptable range” here is defined precisely BY “civility”; that’s why it’s a good place to be. So, thanks for that, Derek.
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