Why did a post get such a small response? August 17, 2002 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm wondering about the meaning of small response to a posting. Is it because there is no provocation and little to add, or because the post is uninteresting to most people?

posted by semmi to MetaFilter-Related at 1:02 PM (23 comments total)

Ow. Ow. Irony. Stabbing me in the face. Ow.

Better response: it depends on the nature of the specific post, but usually some mixture of the qualities you listed, yes.
posted by cortex at 2:22 PM on August 17, 2002

oh, i'm sure it means the poster hates america and wants the terorists to win.

posted by quonsar at 2:40 PM on August 17, 2002

and the terrorists too.
posted by quonsar at 2:41 PM on August 17, 2002

Aw. It was funnier when nobody had responded yet.

Some of the most interesting posts, usually pointing out a fascinating site or resource, don't get a lot of responses other than "wow, thanks." Think of them as weighing more than a whole sackful of ad hominems in a 150+ posts I/P thread. Some links are better savored in silence.

posted by muckster at 2:57 PM on August 17, 2002

Sometimes its because the post is fascinating and new and outside of the experience or domain of most Mefi'ers and they haven't yet formed their pre-conceived opinions on the matter.
posted by vacapinta at 2:58 PM on August 17, 2002

i'm pretty sure i've only made two front page posts on the blue side, and both have had a tiny, tiny response. i'm of the firm belief that it's because i chose bad times to post. midday tuesday, or noon on a sunday or something. either way, too much traffic/more interesting things to read or nobody around kept the responses down, i'm sure.

it most certainly wasn't because they were boring posts. heavens, no!
posted by carsonb at 3:34 PM on August 17, 2002

If you want a lot of comments try something along these lines:
Fat Israelis and pedophilic-cat-killing Palestinians discover their love for the [insert new Macintosh gadget]. Well you know what they say, the only good Israeli is a dead Israeli, what's your favorite saying?
For further effect use a spin-off name of a well known (and loved) mefite: MiguelCard0so, jkotke, maathowie, geoff...
posted by geoff. at 3:52 PM on August 17, 2002

I have a whole buttload of worthless advice on this topic, but I think I'll just leave it with this:

If you're timing your FPP for maximum viewership,
If you're counting comments,
If you're unhappy cuz no one's bothered to bitch about your MeFi FPPs in MeTa..

try hanging back and letting other people post their FPP crap instead, cuz you may be part of the problem.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:58 PM on August 17, 2002

What Vacapinta said.
But then, we tend to post within similar topic areas.

I don't think much of low response to a post in most cases. The majority of comments don't really add all that much, anyway, to be honest. Sometimes a real discussion starts up, but not often, and then almost exclusively in "controversial" threads.
posted by Su at 4:59 PM on August 17, 2002

It's a combination of the time of day, the subject matter (is it inflammatory fundamentalist cat eating Christians? That will ALWAYS get a response), the number of posts already receiving active discussion, the reputation of the poster, and the combination of quality posts surrounding it. Also, I have found that good or controversial initial comments start a snowball effect, many people won't post to a thread based on what the original post says, but when they see (3 new), they will venture inside and perhaps find something worth responding to. Those threads that are consistently active over a 2-3 hour period also seem more lively and worth checking out.

It's almost biological filtering, kind of like moths gathering to a flame. I can't really think of a good way to describe it.

As an example, while I usually completely disagree with nofundy politically, I tend to be attracted to his threads because they are often politically related, something I'm interested in. Often, I, or someone who disagrees with him will step in and post an inflammatory or extremely alternative viewpoint, and a rapid discussion will start. I find myself often posting 5-10 times in a single thread. In one thread I believe I posted 12 times. Generally, things that people disagree vehemently about are going to generate a lot more discussion. This level of discussion, in my opininon, is not the measure of a good post. The level of discussion is only a measure of how well the subject matter, or the poster, or the commenters can agitate people.

Above all, don't take the number of comments regarding your post personally. Nobody is keeping score, and people are reading them, even if no one comments.
posted by insomnyuk at 5:02 PM on August 17, 2002

some of us don't need verbosity.
posted by jcterminal at 7:34 PM on August 17, 2002

you may be part of the problem

Care to say why?
posted by brittney at 11:56 PM on August 17, 2002

I've been under the impression that a link that gets few comments is fine as long as its an interesting, insightful, or enjoyable link. This is contrary to Plastic, where links are chosen based on whether or not they will generate discussion.

However, trying to generate discussion is, in my opinion, a good way to set up a post, as the fact that discussion does play a role in this site (otherwise it would be like Memepool).
posted by drezdn at 12:19 AM on August 18, 2002

I thought Semmi meant small response like this.

[ot] Do the small size comments mean muttering under your breath or something? [/ot]
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:24 AM on August 18, 2002

macadamiaranch: it means the poster has backed away from the computer to get a wider perspective; the letters just look smaller because they're farther away.
posted by ook at 8:05 AM on August 18, 2002

"I'm wondering about the meaning of small response to a posting". Depends.
posted by Mack Twain at 8:23 AM on August 18, 2002

Here's my take on it:

- Sometimes it's just because other threads are sucking attention away

- Sometimes it's because it's not that great of a post (no one cares much, not even enough to point out what a lame post it is)

- Sometimes it's because they're just going "ohhhh wow.... coooooool!" and are too overcome to respond.

- Sometimes it's a fine post, just beneath the threshold of most people to comment. Nothing wrong with that, but it's invisible so you never know.

Because of that last reason, I'm trying to make an effort to speak up when I think something's really lovely (and typically if that's all I have to say, I'll only say it in short threads). I want the poster to know that their find was appreciated, and I want wanderers to realize that the link may be more worthy of following than they first surmise.

In a way, I'd like to encourage this, but not too much, because like anything it would get out of control probably and we'd have 150-reply-long threads with everyone giving kudos to the poster. Well okay, I don't think that's likely. But anyway, yeah, it could get outta control in theory.
posted by beth at 10:50 AM on August 18, 2002

Perhaps more to the point is my interest in masks and subterfuge (That to which one resorts for escape or concealment; an artifice employed to escape censure or the force of an argument, or to justify opinions or conduct; a shift; an evasion), of the anonymous and invisible poster. While I relish the notion of contact only by the structures and various assumed meanings of mere words, I find it, most of the times, almost impossible to assign the intention and the context that would give the necessary meaning to the messages. Besides technical information and clearly defined biased arguments, conversation by fully integrated individuals seem impossible.
posted by semmi at 12:20 PM on August 18, 2002

posts with the fewest comments, i find, are usually some of the best links out there. i hardly ever bother to read the links to the 150+ comment posts (unless i'm going to comment), because it's usually some generic news story that for some reason or another, has caused a conversation inflammation.

usually on 50+ comment threads i'll have to close the window halfway through the posts because i get so incensed at the angry typing little men shaking their fists at each other.

i don't know. i've always felt that generating discussion is not what a post is supposed to do. i like posts where there are comments that *are* relevant to the thread, but they're mostly links to other pages, not someone's opinion (repeated ad infinitum). i like(d) to think of mefi as a nice little resource where folks put up something about one subject or another, and in the comments, folks would add little footnotes, so if you were interested you could read more about it from people actually involved in this subject day to day.

then again, i'm a effing bastard.

posted by fishfucker at 12:51 PM on August 18, 2002

fishfucker: You're absolutely right, this is exactly my connection to MeFi as well.

Yet, I can't help myself to perceive every "signal" as an attempt of communication by a real (hopefully) person, and as my interest is aroused, I am curious to find the (any) common denominator that may link us as human beings.
posted by semmi at 5:17 PM on August 18, 2002

"then again, i'm a effing bastard. "

A fish-effing bastard, no less.

Some of my favorite links have come from near-zero-discussion posts. I always have just assumed that the people who followed the link were speechless.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:31 PM on August 18, 2002

You mean there's some reason why people don't have much to say regarding things like Why Men Treat Women As Property?
posted by sheauga at 9:45 AM on August 19, 2002

My most recent post only racked up five comments, the fewest of any for the week. The very next post, on "Penile Reparations," has 108 comments and is still going. (Last comment: "... I defy you to scientifically document any of this horseshit.") So it comes down to a simple question: do you want a lot of comments, or do you want to contribute a non-I/P, non-NYtimes.com, non-penile post?

posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:51 AM on August 20, 2002

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