diamond geezer

 Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The lifecycle of a comments box

Post a post on your blog and, if you're lucky, comments will appear. There might be a lot, or there might not. But what seems to be the case is that most of these comments will appear fairly soon, and then there'll be fewer and fewer new comments as time goes by. The older a post is, the fewer comments it attracts. OK, that's not rocket science. But the drop-off seems to be quite dramatic, and yesterday's comments on this blog were no exception. So I thought I'd do some research to investigate my rate of comment decline. I've selected 10 typical posts, and then I've looked at your comments and the time at which you made them. Results follow.

[For analytical purposes I've only considered posts posted on this blog at 7am on a weekday, and I've selected the ten most recent of these. That's more than 250 of your comments under consideration altogether. I'm aware that I'm very fortunate to have this many comments, so thank you. I'm aware that most bloggers don't post a new post every day, instantly demoting yesterday's post to obscurity. And I'm aware that most bloggers don't post at the same time every day, with readers expecting a fresh post every morning. In fact I'm aware that my blog isn't typical in any way. But I still think the data's interesting.]

elapsed timecomments
the first 6 hours50%
the first 12 hours75%
the first 24 hours90%

Half of the comments on my blog are posted within 6 hours of a post appearing, while it's still fresh and new. Three out of four comments are made in the first 12 hours, by which time most regular readers have checked out the page to see what today's post is. And all but 10% of comments are made during the first day, while the post is at the top of the page. After that I stick another daily post on top, and the old post is relegated down the page, and the comments dry up. All of which suggests that if you lot have anything to say, you say it quickly. Here are the results in more detail:

time comment made comments
7am → 9am17%
9am → 12 noon28%
12 noon → 3pm15%
3pm → 6pm13%
6pm → 9pm10%
9pm → midnight4%
day 28%
days 3 and 45%
later than day 41%

When I post a new post at 7am, most UK blog readers are still asleep (or otherwise occupied). But some of you are very quick off the mark and get in with an early comment. My busiest hour for comments is usually 8:30-9:30am, presumably just after many of you have arrived in the office for work, and while the post is still fresh. The rest of the morning is also relatively busy, comments-wise, but by lunchtime this interactive activity is already starting to fade. There's another slight peak at the end of the working day, around 5pm, and then commenting drops off fairly sharply after 8pm as the evening progresses. Presumably you're all busy being sociable by then and have no time to comment, or maybe everything's already been said. During the early hours, UK time, I receive only a handful of occasional comments (usually from either nightowls or Antipodeans). Then there's barely a flicker of interest as the second day dawns, and passes, because now there's something more recent to comment on. And very few people stumble across an 'old' post after more than four days and feel they have to add to the debate. Conversation by then is essentially dead and buried, and even if you do write a comment it's unlikely that anybody else is still going to be around to read it.

So, there you have it. If today's post is typical I'll get a quarter of my total comments by 10am, half of my comments by 1pm, three quarters of my comments by 7pm and nigh all of them by 7am tomorrow morning. But I bet you prove me wrong deliberately.

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