Concord Monitor: Skip subscribes, starts commenting again; Monitor shuts down commenting - Granite Grok

Concord Monitor: Skip subscribes, starts commenting again; Monitor shuts down commenting

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The alternative title was “Concord Monitor: taking cues from Twitter, set up their own comment jail?”

The Concord Monitor on Friday afternoon suspended the commenting section on all articles following continued abuses. The Monitor will explore alternatives that facilitate civil dialogue and allow a better ability to ban fake accounts.

Not just mine – everyone!  I used to comment there all the time and often brought the back and forth from it back to the ‘Grok.  After all, if you don’t participate in the Public Arena of Ideas, how can you expect to win? Forever lurking gives you the lay of the landscape but contributes nothing to the debate – so I participate. However, they redid their site at around the same time we did and a bit afterward, they cut off the ability for “incognito” or “private” sessions to see their content and stopped the commenting. So, I started to not bothering to read much at the Concord Monitor.

But I missed the back and forth, so, I finally broke down a couple of weeks ago and bought a subscription. And started commenting again – fun times! And then they shut it all down. Just like the Union Leader did a few months back.  I think both of them are shooting themselves in their collective feet. In talking this over with Steve, he said:

Why’d they kill off comments? Seems that ill hurt their appeal

He’s exactly right. It’s sorta like DEC (Digital Equipment Corp) all over again – thinking their business was one thing and not realizing it was actually another (no longer hardware but software).  The train companies, too, almost died because they thought they were in the train business when they actually were in the transportation industry. Other companies have made similar mistakes.

While their articles had interesting “stuff” to read, that wasn’t the main appeal to me.  Instead, they were “comment delivery mechanisms”. In a changing environment for newspapers, they showed they can’t make the transition to being information providers wherein their customers want to create communities. Frankly, I mainly read articles, not just for the content, but also to see who was going to say what.  THAT was the hook. Frankly, the comments were far more interesting and of more varied diversity than the articles themselves (which generally leaned Left and were fairly predictable; perfectly true at the Monitor and getting more true at the Union Leader as it continues to leave the conservative legacy of the Loebs in the McQuaid rear view mirror).

In a time where newspaper subscription rates and stock prices are circling the drain, one would think that they’d want to be attracting more customers and doing everything to keep their “superfans” that were spending lots of time on site?  Hmmm, does that basic fact of staying in business escape them?  After all, the incremental cost of those long-on-site readers is almost close to zero when looking at the big picture.  And the think of loss of value in throwing away your “influencers” in toto?

We made the transition twice over.  GraniteGrok used to just be a blogging site for two (and then one).  We’ve expanded to being a group blog in keeping up with the changes in the blogosphere.  We’re also making the transition from just being a blogsite with some really smart commenters to being more of a community.  And we have more changes coming that we think you’ll like.

Status quo – it’s a killer if you don’t realize that you’re stuck in it.  Only time will tell if newspapers killing off their comments is a profit making move or a buzzkill move.

Oh yeah – this too. I’m ticked at myself that I didn’t save off some of their pages before the anvil came down because I had some good comments that I was letting “soak” before bringing them home to the ‘Grok.