Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whassup with the Jazz Blogs? By Steve Provizer

I'm seeing fewer and fewer comments on this blog and on all the jazz blogs I go to. Brilliant Corners continues to get about the same number of visits-around 300 a day and, with a mention on one of the "big" sites, can spike up to 500. But there is less feedback on what I write-no matter how many hits.

It's possible the decrease in comments in this blog is a result of my getting less and less interesting. Fair enough. However, when I look around at other blogs, the posts seem fairly consistent, while the feedback is also declining.

So, is this actual web-wide malaise? Is it confined to jazz blogs? If so, is it simply another in the constellation of "shrinking jazz audience" phenomena? Actually, I doubt that. My hunch is that the level of readership is stable.

I think there are two reasons why people comment: To tell their own story, or because they agree or disagree enough with a 'fact' or opinion to be motivated to write.

It's possible all the people who have a story to tell have started their own blogs. That leaves only motivation.

27 comments:

Ian Carey said...

Pretty sure most of the back & forth which used to take place in blog comments has jumped to Facebook & Twitter, although it seems like there might be an anti-anti-blog backlash starting up as I'm seeing more actual blogs show up (after a few years of seeming like they were headed for obsolescence).

Steve Provizer said...

It may be different for you, but Facebook and Twitter back and forth about jazz has been about the same for me. The little universe of the jazz blog seems a much more natural place for jazz discussions. You don't think that the jazz discourse energy has gone down?

The LondonJazz site said...

Steve you're right about Facebook. It's far easier, and I'm sure it feels more natural, for people to signal a one-click "Like" on Facebook than to get into discourse or debate.

On my LondonJazz blog there is absolutely no numerical relationship between the number of readers and the number of comments. The most popular piece I've had in the past three days is about this Saturday's Gretchen Parlato Freestage in London : hundreds of page views, one comment.

I don't know what other people do, but I moderate and "curate." Why ?

Because I know for certain that I did not set up LondonJazz so that malcontents within the jazz community should have a public forum where they can insult others, while keeping their anonymity - I tend not to publish anonymous bile.

Here's an example from a couple of weeks ago:

http://londonjazz.blogspot.com/2011/04/review-soweto-kinch-at-oxford-jazz.html

Steve do you have a policy on issues like that? Or do other bloggers?

Steve Provizer said...

Brilliant Corners has a history of serious troll spamming, so It's definitely been necessary to moderate comments. No doubt, setting up that kind of a hoop for would-be commenters to jump through decreases feedback.

It's a little hard to know exactly what's happening on this blog, as neither the stats on the site nor Google Analytics seem reasonable to me-they certainly disagree with each other. But, as I noted to Ian, it seems to me the discourse energy has decreased.

Of course, the "how do we rescue jazz" dialogue got old and tired, as has the "where do you stand on Wynton" debate. Maybe the effect of pop culture phenomena like Ken Burns or Esperanza Spaulding are the only things that can fire people up.

Steve Provizer said...

One more thing-on FB and Twitter, if you did not join a conversation when it first appeared, chances are you won't know about it-too many other posts intervene and bury it. Such, of course, is not the case with blogs.

Dean Minderman said...

I've never had very many commenters at St. Louis Jazz Notes, mostly because it's more about news than opinion, and so there's less to comment about. Also, covering the jazz scene in one Midwestern city is a small niche to begin with...

However, this year I have noticed a very slight drop in average page views per week, although the number of people looking at the content via FB and Twitter continues to grow, slowly but steadily.

I think that some of the people who used to visit the blog are now scanning the headlines via Twitter, looking at the FB page (which gets 300-400 visitors/week) or just waiting for RSS to bring the stories into their Facebook newsfeeds.

This works fine for me, as my main interest is just getting the info out there, but those who have had more active comment sections may have a different view.

Steve Provizer said...

I appreciate your feedback, Dean. Yes, my posts are opinion, speculation, occasional forays into musical or cultural analysis and the odd attempt to get a cheap laugh. Not informational.

I think that at least some of the people who have commented here have no presence on FB or Twitter. Plus, there's a certain brevity enforced by both FB and Twitter that I think evokes a level of self-censorship. It makes things intrinsically less contentious, but perhaps that lack of tension is a reason that commenting energy in general has gone down. Less drama.

Chris Albertson said...

In approximately two years, my jazz-oriented blog (stomp-off) has been visited modestly (about 46,000 times) and only 358 comments were left (excluding 10 or so spam attempts). I notice a fairly large number of comments on blogs such as Field Negro, but he tends to throw something immediate and controversial into his mix. There was a time when I saw extended exchanges on Brilliant Corners, with far more inputs than my blog ever received (the jazz and spirituality subject, for example), but I guess jazz people prefer to express themselves in dedicated forums, like Organissimo.

Steve Provizer said...

Thanks for your feedback, Chris. I actually tried to post comments several times at your blog-unsuccessfully. There are various roadblocks-Open ID log in, for example, which stymied Doug Ramsey's attempt to comment on this thread.

I agree that topicality makes a difference, but all things being equal, there's still less activity.

Organissimo is an interesting place, but its very size makes it something you don't always want to undertake.

Steve Provizer said...

brewlitesjazztales left a comment under the Snooky Young post:

Steve, for warming up an old joke - remember I*N*R*E ? ;) - Was this one long enough for the long absence of yours truly's comments?

Steve Provizer said...

DOUG Ramsey comments:

I can't spot a trend. Comment response has been uneven for the six-year life of Rifftides. What I may consider a major post will bring few comments, or none. A minor one will bring a dozen or more. I agree with the LondonJazzsite person that there is no detectable correlation between overall readership statistics and the number of comments. As for Facebook and Twitter, days are too full and life too short, to take on more digital entanglements.

I Witness said...

The last time I saw Paris, her hearth was warm and... er... oh well, distracted again from my life dedicated to commenting on Jazz blogs far and wee, and the little lame thought balloon goes drifting and i can n'tt keep fumbl-bl-innngg the time, hurry up, please, it's 5/4, or is it 2:10... or have we passed the end of end times already? and if a blog lies in the netnessed and no one comments, is the blog unsound, just so much wasted aether? is there an aether or? bored blog readers, unite, you have nothing to lose but your closing statements, or your cloned fifth-estatements and fourth-write estrangements from these brilliant corners in the land of ooblidee-bop and babble-on... in so many words, No comment.

Steve Provizer said...

Your comment has been forwarded to the NSA for possibly harboring coded seditious content.

joesh said...

Hi Steve

First time I visited your blog and here's the first of (maybe) many comments.

In the meanwhile I guess that sometimes blogs don't need to be commented on, the article makes sense without adding your two cents worth. However, I find blogs such as Ethan Iverson's 'Do the Math' most annoying, it's often impossible to leave a comment. He (like some others) throw literary grenades into the room and then run for it, quite frustrating I find.

I look forward to reading more form your blog.

Best - Joe

Steve Provizer said...

Joe-Thanks for checking in. I look forward to future comments from you.

I don't know Mr. Iverson, and why he's not interested in broadening the conversation. It's seems easy enough to moderate and weed out the spam.

Certainly, certain posts would provoke more of a response, but I'm trying to describe a growing sense that jazz blogdom is less energetic in a community sense. My bias is toward that community, even if it is sometimes contentious. Chris's point about Organissimo is well taken, but reflects the general WWW tendency towards portals-a tendency which gatekeepers like Google and Facebook are very happy to foster.

Ian Carey said...

Here's another vote against OpenID. I'd prefer to just be able to leave a comment with a name & url. I know, trolls, but it seems like moderation addresses that.

As for Facebook, it can certainly be annoying, but the slightly more private (and less Google-searchable) nature of the interactions seems to lead to more honest exchanges in my experience. (That said, they're only between "friends," and not really a public conversation.)

Twitter seems to be used well as a sort of signpost for longer thoughts ("New response to Provizer's batsh!t ideas about Muggsy Spanier up at my blog. [link]") or the occasional attempt at a one-line tension diffuser ("What's this about my spaniel Muggsy?").

Steve Provizer said...

I agree that Open ID is a pain in the ass. This blog, as noted, drew the rantings of a very obnoxious troll. I don't know if he will reappear, but in the spirit of making all this easier, and as per your suggestion, I'm gonna go with just verification.

2 other items: FB: more private?

and,

How did you know I was gonna do a Muggsy post? (Who Threw a Spanier in the Works?)

joesh said...

Hi again Steve,

Not sure if you don't know Ethan's blog 'Do the Math' or if it's the man you're talking about.

Of course Iverson has access to high profile musicians and so gets a chance to pop questions and chat to some interesting people. As for the rest and what he makes of it all that's for the individual to decide.

Anyhow, just the above topic seems to have got a few people interested in leaving a comment. Can't be all that bad, eh!

Steve Provizer said...

Yea, I know the blog. I'm talking about the guy himself. And yea, I'm digging the comments.

Matt Lavelle said...

Hey Guys..

I do all my stuff on Facebook now.Here's the next chapter in the saga of Giuseppi Logan

http://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/matt-lavellemusician-and-writer/giuseppi-logan-and-the-fall-from-grace/222444107794338

Peace

Matt

Chris Albertson said...

I hate FaceBook and stay away from it, but whenever I see a sizable spike in hits on my blog, it is inevitably because someone mentioned it on FB. The post that draws more hits than any other is consistently my review of this year's Grammy show. I guess people Google Grammy and it pops up.

I don't get much spam, but I always intercept it. I notice that even Organissimo, which I used to frequent at least once daily, has become a "what-Mosaic-are-you-playing?" kind of board. I notice that some good jazz blogs go for months without new input—so what is the point in having them?

Steve Provizer said...

Chris,

There's probably a smallish core group of readers, then there's a larger group that can sometimes be drawn in through Facebook or Twitter. Then, there's the much larger group of people doing a random word search who stumble into a jazz blog and run screaming after they read the first graf.

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Steve Provizer said...

LA Pawn-Thank you for your well-reasoned, nay, brilliant response to my post. When can we look forward to yet another enthralling pawn show with a badly punned name?

brewlitesjazztales said...

Question: What is more important, the article itself, or comments on the article?

And then: I prefer WordPress, because it has a very good spam filter called akismet.

You can put in certain names, or words, even e-mail addresses, and the comment will not only be held back in a moderation queue, you will only notified about a withheld comment when it's clearly not spam. The actual spam will stay there until you would log in.

Love that!

As for comments, I once stated: "No comments doesn't mean no readers, huh?"

brewlitesjazztales said...

P.S. -- Everyone stay away from Facebook & Co. They're stealing all your data. And honestly, who wants to share his music, his pictures, or anything else with a weirdo like Mr. Zuckerberg?

I don't know the man, and he doesn't know me. So, my stuff is only my business.

Steve Provizer said...

Hi Brew-The comments are just as important (but even more sporadic than my postings have been lately).

Even more than when I first wrote this entry in May, 2011, there seem to be fewer jazz discussions going on out there, unless something is very controversial.

Agreed that FB is rotten, but it has become a place where a lot of jazz groups have arisen that share early music-that's valuable to me.