What Drives an Active Online Community?

You do with your comments!

When I give talks about the value of blogs, I always brag about how active the rain city guide community is, but I hadn’t thought to try quantify it until I saw John Cook’s post this morning.

Over the past 3+ years, we’ve had 30,802 comments from 1,744 posts!

This is an average of over 17 comments for every post!  That’s pretty darn impressive!

It’s kind of fun to look back at the posts that have generated the most conversations, so I thought I’d list all the posts that have generated over 100 comments:

* 200+ comments

So much great stuff thanks to the entire RCG community!

40 thoughts on “What Drives an Active Online Community?

  1. Dustin:

    Have you thought how much value it might add if a visitor could search the site by commentor?

    I have no idea how it would be done, but I know that there are some amazing regular commenters on this site (biliruben, Q-diddy, sniglet, Apella,laxotoscno, etc are some that come to mind), and I would love to be able to search their thoughts by name.

    Just a technical thought, for a technical guy….

  2. Hmmm… That’s easy enough for me to do on the backend, but I can’t think of an easy way to open that up to you’all. Let me think on that a bit.

  3. Dustin,

    Your unspoken “policy” of responding to people who comment, instead of letting comments pile up like a message board or forum with no sense of “conversation”, is what has made it so.

    I don’t think you ever asked us to treat commenters like “guests to our posts” who were speaking with us, but you led by example.

    Many other bloggers write and leave, some here do that as well :). But recognizing a person who comments, as if they just walked into the room and spoke with you, is clearly what makes RCG “a community”.

  4. Jillayne: The funny part is that you can never tell which posts will generate the most interest… I’m sometimes stopped at conferences by people who will quote an idea I wrote about and I’m often shocked that people were not only reading what I wrote, but influenced by it! 😉

  5. Ardell,

    I hear you that responding to comments is critical, but it’s so darn easy because I really appreciate when someone takes the time to comment on an idea that I had.

    Funny story: Way back when I first started RCG, I remember getting three comments in one day and thinking I was on fire! Then I noticed they were all pretty spammy and went to spam sites. I was sooo disappointed and I almost didn’t want to delete them because it was so great to have some action on the site!

  6. Rhonda: While that is the case… there are those times when I write something and just know it is going to stir the pot. but even those are only good for a few dozen comments. It takes something special to break out in the conversation to hit the 100 mark. 🙂

  7. I’d like to add that the general atmosphere of “passionate, articulate civility” contributes to the success of this site.

    This is not at all common on many sites that deal with controversial topics. Name calling and sarcasm seem to be the normal “lingua franca” of the blog world, even those with intelligent and literate commenters.

    Way to set the tone!

    Of course, I can THINK of some sarcastic comments regarding this post…..but, nah!

  8. Nope… but I can look up the number of comments that people have left on the backend. It’d be a manual process to check everyone! And if they didn’t always leave comments using some common characteristic (name, email, URL or IP), then it’d make it much tougher.

  9. Just a great list of writers that create well thought out posts which create lots of thoughtful comments. Nice list Dustin. Sometimes the comments make the post a better discussion for all.

  10. For what it’s worth, I see that most of the long threads deal with the credit crunch and housing downturn. That seems to be a topic with a lot of resonance.

    People just aren’t as interested in discussions about how great Puget Sound neighbourhoods are, how to stage homes, wondeful ways to upgrade your home, or other up-beat subjects.

    I personally like this site for getting a perspective from industry professionals on bubble subjects.

    Maybe you should re-name the site to “Seattle Bubble 2”. 🙂

  11. Sniglet,

    You’re definitely right that the market condition topics tend to generate a ton of comments, but in terms of what people visiting the site are looking for, the backend analytics tells me that market conditions information is only a small portion of what people want.

    The vast majority of people coming to RCG are arrive after putting a term in google like moving to seattle, living in seattle, neighborhood terms, short-sale, FHA, etc, and I like to think that the bulk of them get sent to informative posts that go a long way to answering their questions without the need for them to comment.

    My comment is less directed at you Sniglet, then a recognition that as much as most bloggers (myself included!) love to write posts that generate lots of comments, they are not necessarily indicative on any given post with how helpful we can be in providing quality real estate information!

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