Committed to Commenting … Or Not

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

I often wonder why some articles receive more comments than others. If I receive three comments on a Poynter Online article, I consider that to be pretty good. I thought the article I wrote about journalists paying it forward last week would receive at least a couple of comments, given the subject matter of the piece and the question/”click here” link at the end: “Click here to share your stories about how fellow journalists have helped you.” Yet, it was a centerpiece story for three days on Poynter Online and it didn’t receive a single comment.

The lower number of comments on our site compared to other Web sites may have something to do with the fact that the majority of our users are journalists. My colleague Amy Gahran wrote a thought-provoking piece about journalists commenting on the Web, called “Journos: Do You Post Public Comments? Why/Why Not?” She writes that: “In almost every blog and public forum where I participate, I’ve noticed that generally few of the commenters are journalists working for mainstream news organizations.” She raises a valid point that a whopping 17 readers expand upon in the comments section of the piece.

Another recent Poynter Online essay, “Hazarding a Guess on Race” by Sally Lehrman, received 14 comments, which is a lot for a Diversity at Work item, or any article on our site for that matter.

Drawing from your own experiences, what compels you to want to comment on an article/multimedia piece, etc.?