The iPhone killed commenting

Back when this domain received about 15 or 20 percent of the traffic it now receives there were many more commenters. What happened? One of the reasons the Sepia Mutiny weblog was shut down was that as the commentariat withered after 2007 there was less motivation to keep a community going (there was none).

The explanation at the time was that people were moving conversations to Facebook. Today we would add Twitter and Reddit to the list of “culprits.”

But there’s another thing that is hard to ignore: about half the traffic that comes to this website is now on iOS or Android. That is, half the traffic to this domain is mobile.

I’m pretty sure that the nature of browsing content on a phone discourages the sorts of intense back & forth exchanges which were the bread & butter of comments sections of weblogs in the days of yore.

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8 thoughts on “The iPhone killed commenting

  1. tl;dr

    Fidgeted attempted aphorisms are poor proxy for sustained interlocution.

    But now, covfefe positively Presidential. Sad!

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  2. Half of reddit’s traffic is on mobile. 90% for Facebook. Traffic has actually gone up on those sites so I don’t think mobile browsing deters people from commenting.

    Social networks are more convenient for comments because your followers can see your comment too. Few of my followers will see a comment on this blog unless I link it. The conversation engages more people directly if it takes place on twitter. Thus the blog evolves into a place to kick off conversations, not to have them.

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  3. Right now, I am commenting on a laptop, on a week off from work.

    When I was/will-be at work, I browse sites from a phone. This so the workplace doesn’t track my history to see how much time I spend on nonwork activity.

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  4. I wonder if a tapatalk type app would induce people to comment more frequently on websites. I think the intro of the reddit iphone/android apps (starting with the original unofficial ones before the official app came out) was a major factor in ensuring that as the traffic became more mobile engagement was made easier.

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  5. Late to the party, but I concur with your thesis based upon personal experience. I can text on a phone or tablet, but generally speaking my texting is much much slower than my typing. I find it onerous to write much more than a paragraph in response. This is particularly because it’s clunky on most mobile devices to cut and paste things like image and site links, and also because screens on phones in particular are often too small display an entire multi-paragraph reply. Thus I do a lot of reading on android devices, but little in the way of substantive commenting.

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