I haven’t given this much thought since the transition, but I did manage to dig up some stats that may say something about the transition.
Bill mentions that he typically received around 100 visits each time he was linked up on MNSpeak, but less since the transition. Here is a chart of MNSpeak referrals by day over the past year to TheDeets.com that shows a similar pattern:
The number of visitors tends to be a bit higher on posts that become highly conversational. The spike from a link seems to be down a bit. A few hunches on why this is the case:
1. MNSpeak’s traffic is down.
2. More people have subscribed to TheDeets.com through RSS readers like Google Reader over the past year, so they’ve already seen the post by the time it ends up on MNSpeak.
3. Some people have decided that they can’t handle The Deets.
I get the impression that MNSpeak lives and dies by its comment volume since conversational posts greatly increase the number of page views per visitor and with that, ad impressions. I tallied up the comments per month on MNSpeak going back to November 2007 and came up with this. (Nov 2008 is projected based on averaging out the month’s daily traffic to 30-days):
Comments are definitely down.
What’s changed? Here are my hunches:
1. RSS Readers: More people are reading content through RSS readers than a year ago, so people are less dependent on aggregators to learn about what’s going on around town.
2. Mandatory Registration: Kills 1-off comments and snark that drives conversations. Discourages new commenters.
3. Killing Comments Subscriptions: People forget to come back to view responses, or do so at a slower rate, killing the pace of conversations. Personally, I’m reluctant to comment on sites where I can’t subscribe to follow-ups. Comments are as much about the reactions as the contribution on a conversational platform like MNSpeak. Killing comments subscriptions kills the conversation.
That’s what I’m seeing.
As far as peeves with the new site go, my biggest would be the change to linking to commenter’s profiles rather than their websites. I’m not interested in viewing profile pages. But I am interested in figuring out who is associated with what website. Previously, that was a great way to discover new sites around town. Now it’s not.