Comment intensity

As Avinash Kaushik points out, there are many different metrics to measure your blog’s success. Some common metrics include subscribers, page ‘hits,’ and Technorati rank or authority.

Another useful metric might be the average number of comments per blog post, or comment intensity. The table below shows the comment intensity for five blogs: this one, dy/dan, Weblogg-ed, Cool Cat Teacher, and Ewan McIntosh’s


Charting the results shows the big spikes that Weblogg-ed and Dangerously Irrelevant had for two recent posts:


As the table shows, a large readership total doesn’t always correspond to a high comment intensity (at least in this small sample). dy/dan has the lowest Technorati rank/authority but its median comment intensity over the past twenty posts is right there with Weblogg-ed…

What’s your comment intensity?

9 Responses to “Comment intensity”

  1. Scott-

    I agree that quantitative data has a place both in schools and blog measurement, but I take issue with your use of the word “success” in terms of blogs.

    Granted, I may not have the readership or comment reaction of say, you, Will, Vikci, or the like, but I consider my blog a success.

    My reason: I use it as a sounding board to get my thoughts out. As a result of these thoughts and the occasional reaction, I can flesh out my ideas to adjust my own thinking and subsequently make real changes to help kids and teachers in my district.

    Which is a bigger success? 10,000 blog reactions or 5 solid pedagogical changes in a school system?

    Thanks for the vent.


  2. I’m afraid I agree with Barry in the definition of the terms of success.

    My terms of success are twofold, one personal and one public. On a personal level, I am like Barry, using my blog as a sounding board. However many comments are left, I’m appreciative of the effort people put into helping me shape my thoughts, which in turn affect how I work and which, at some point, have an effect on classroom practice in my country.

    On a public level, politicians, senior civil servants, changemakers, teachers, parents, school inspectors and my colleagues in my country read what I am thinking, and help shape change or make it. Over the past two and a half years the content of my blog, whether it’s been discussed or commented upon online, has helped make changes in our education system – a whole country’s education system.

    The best thing, of course, is that I’m not alone. The blogs of many teachers here in Scotland have contributed to change in terms of our new curriculum, our national intranet and the way that the education agency (with whom I got a job largely on the basis of my blog content/my thoughts) interacts with its stakeholders.

    On that front, compared to most other blogs, I feel that my blog is the most successful in the world. For me!

    On a final note, what you see on a blog is only part of the story. What is my comment intensity? I really couldn’t care less. The face-to-face interactions I have had over the years, particularly with practitioners in workshops, TeachMeets that I organise and in the client relationships I’ve built are still where most of the positive impetus in my work come from.

    That said, keep the comments comin’ 😉

  3. Barry and Ewan,

    I wholeheartedly concur with both of you. As we know, there are LOTS of ways to measure the success of one’s blog. Some are easily quantifiable, some aren’t. My post wasn’t intended to denigrate other success metrics nor was it intended to posit comment intensity as the preferred metric. I’m just playing with some thoughts here… The bottom line is that if you’re happy with your blog, then GREAT!

    Now, all that said, I think that the comment intensity idea is important in this respect: I often see laments from bloggers that they don’t get many comments on their posts. What the table above shows is that even those of us who are fortunate enough to have large readerships often don’t get many comments. My personal median over the past 20 posts, even WITH the big spike of 89, is still only 2.5. Ewan, your blog and Vicki Davis’ are similar. The point is that many, many posts don’t get a lot of comments, even those by the more widely read bloggers.

    So take heart, edubloggers! If you so desire, admire the fact that Dan Meyer and Will Richardson are adept at generating commentary on their blogs. Otherwise, don’t sweat the fact that you’re not getting a lot of comments. Few of us are!

    See also the 1% rule:

  4. I think it’s really great that bloggers with small readerships and low comment volume find intrinsic satisfaction in blogging or calculate their impact intangibly. But I can’t bring myself to discredit conventional measures of impact — eg. “they’re sullied by first-mover advantage, controlled by Warlock’s inner-circle of chosen bloggers,” etc. — as quickly as some.

    What I’m saying is that those numbers up there correlate to _something_. Yeah, Ewan, Vicki, and Will were some of the first on the scene. Yeah, Scott has some impressive credentials. But no one _stays_ at the top unless they can _clearly write interesting thoughts_.

    That’s really it. And it’s the only reason (aside from Scott’s largess) I’m featured _anywhere_ in this post. I dropped into this scene late. I have no credentials. I’m half the age and quarter the experience of anyone else in this post. But I spend a _lot_ of time thinking and reading about education and I run through eleven drafts of every post.

    How can we promote the blogosphere’s meritocracy to our students — the fact that no one knows you’re a high school freshman on the Internet, that your ideas can go viral just as fast as anyone’s — but deny it in our own blogging?

    That rationale will make us feel better about our subscriber numbers but it won’t focus us on what matters: good ideas and good writing.

  5. Howdy…I started to write a short comment and it turned into something else.

    My comment appears here:

    Best wishes,
    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the

  6. Scott, how is “comment intensity” different from Kaushik’s “conversation rate?”

    I’m VERY new to the blogosphere, and I do it in part because I felt like a stalker with my growing Bloglines account and no blog. I was learning a ton, but I wasn’t contributing to any network. I was taking and not giving. So, now I find myself wanting to know if I’m adding any value to the blogosphere.

    I don’t yet know how to measure that. At this point, I’ll settle for readership; I want lots of visitors and lots of subscribers.

    But, then, if I’m getting people to read but creating no ripples or comments, I’m sure I won’t be thrilled. It’s like my work as a professor. I say a few things, but ultimately I want my students to engage each other in conversations in and out of class.

    So, how about (comments + trackbacks) per visitor per post? We can call it “reader engagement.”

  7. my ‘comment intensity’ pales in comparison to my ‘introspection intensity’.

    and while there are many ways to measure the success of a blog, I’ve been operating under the ‘it makes me feel good’ barometer.

    Sound a bit creepy taken out of context, but I never started blogging for the statistical number crunching.

    Sometimes people just need a dais. Audience optional.

  8. Ken, that was an awesome comment. Thanks!

  9. I really would like more conversation intensity than comment intensity.

    A teacher at my campus raised this question in regards to his students’ online discussions, which I blogged about–he wants them to not be posting unrelated comments but to be having conversations in their comments that relate to one another.

    I would also say that I post because I feel the need to say something and the rest is gravy, but after talking to him, I also am interested in altering the interactions on my blog(by responding more) to improve the conversation part of it.

    Just trying to figure out what that looks like. And the reason isn’t really to get more responses, it’s to engage more with my own readers and colleagues in contemplative follow-up discussions, if that makes sense.

    Perhaps we are also asking our students to do something–slow down, stop skimming over sites, and respond and have a conversation–that we aren’t entirely doing ourselves?

    Just wondering?

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