Elizabeth Jensen of NPR:
In July, NPR.org recorded nearly 33 million unique users, and 491,000 comments. But those comments came from just 19,400 commenters, [managing editor Scott] Montgomery said. That’s 0.06 percent of users who are commenting, a number that has stayed steady through 2016.
A tiny percentage of their audience that sways the discussion in an unproductive manner:
It’s not possible to tell who those commenters are; some users comment anonymously. But there are some clues that indicate those who comment are not wholly representative of the overall NPR audience: They overwhelmingly comment via the desktop (younger users tend to find NPR.org via mobile), and a Google estimate suggested that the commenters were 83 percent male, while overall NPR.org users were just 52 percent male, Montgomery said.
When viewed purely from the perspective of whether the comments were fostering constructive conversations, the change should come as no surprise. The number of complaints to NPR about the current comment system has been growing — complaints that comments were censored by the outside moderators, and that commenters were behaving inappropriately and harassing other commenters.
Imagine viewing the world through the lens of a website’s comments section — any website’s comments section. What a bleak and depressing experience that would be.