The Mystery Behind Gawker's Commenters

by Stanely Stuyvesant · January 24, 2008

Gawker Commentors Graph

[Graph of Number of Gawker Comments on Monthly Basis via their Flickr]

Red Line= # of Active Commenter Accounts

Blue Line= # of Comments made

Many of you probably have already heard about CommentGate, the revelation by Jakob Lodwick via a posted IM conversation with Nick Denton. In it we learn that the majority of comments on Gawker are actually written by interns. This may come as a surprise, or it may not. Nonetheless, much of the color in Gawker posts are from the comments, making it a pretty brilliant move by Denton if it is in fact true. He has in effect caused a paradigm shift in blogging, making the comments as important, and in some cases, usurp the relevance of the very post that initiated the discussion.

So is this true? Well, as an astute Gothamist commentor Jake Dobkin points out on Gothamist's post on the issue, Gawker had 350,000 commentors this past month (blue line of graph). So supposing there are 10,000 commentors registered for Gawker (the red line of graph), this would mean an average of 35 comments per person. Hmmm...that doesn't sound right, since we all know from Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point that 20% of the population does 80% of the work, making the average comments for the majority of accounts much less than 35.

So in reality, roughly 2,000 commenters SHOULD BE doing 80% of the work, i.e. responsible for 280,000 comments, creating an average of 140 comments per person in this subgroup. While possible, and not completely off the chart, its unlikely.

It seems most likely that a bunch of interns are in fact doing heaps and heaps of comments from a bunch of accounts. And seriously, does HONJUDGESMAILS, FAMEBALL, BETTY CROCKER, HONJUDGESMAILS2, and MISTERHIPPITY have f*king jobs? How the hell do they spend so much time on Gawker? Oh wait...they're interns!

Either way, we still enjoy reading them for now.