icarus: (pic#634165)
icarusancalion ([personal profile] icarus) wrote2010-09-28 02:56 am
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Riffing off of Auburn's post: AOOO comments

Auburn here wonders about the etiquette of back and forth commenting on AOOO and how it feels like chit-chat in the library.

In the process of the conversation the question of hit/comment ratios came up. Now I researched hit/comment ratios on Fiction Alley (a Harry Potter archive) back in 2003 after friends complained that terrible stories got tons of feedback, popular authors got more feedback, etc., etc. I decided to see if that were true.

The hit/ratio stats post is buried somewhere, but what I discovered was that:

- The average hit/comment ratio ranged from 6-8%, i.e., up to 8% of all people who opened a story left feedback.

- Surprise! The quality of the story did not drastically change that ratio; stories riddled with SPAG and purple prose got the same ratio. Their hit counts were just lower.

- The type of story did, however, affect the ratio: humor fics had a very high hit/comment ratio, averaging around 12%.

- On very popular stories like Cassandra Claire's Draco Trilogy, the hit/comment ratio dipped (surprisingly) lower than less popular stories.

- Stories where the author had a Yahoo Group and made a concerted effort to pimp their work and encourage a loyal following, the hit/comment ratios were the highest, at 36%.

I compared this to the hit/comment ratio at ff.net, and found that ff.net people commented less (I believe it was ... 4%?).

I then compared the ratio at character-focused "niche" archives, and found that the niche archive had much higher ratios, comparable to the humor fics at an average of 12%.

So I'm watching the hit/comment ratio for all the Big Bang stories at AOOO with interest. My experience there up till now has been that it's a good place to store fics, but few people comment. Still, that's been on stories that are old, or have been posted to LJ/DW first.

So far the AOOO comment ratios on the Big Bangs (if you discount the author responses) are running at 1%.

ETA: At someone's suggestion I checked the hit/comment ratio for the 2009 Yuletide which was hosted on AOOO.

So far, though I haven't been thorough, the hit/comment ratios for Yuletide 2009 are also at 1%.

This tells us that the low hit/comment ratios have to do with the archive itself. It is unrelated to the download feature, which didn't exist in 2009.

It could be difficulty in logging in. I've grown frustrated in commenting there in the past and was told I should just keep myself logged in. It could be a design issue, that the comment button isn't prominent enough (Fiction Alley's ratio was better than ff.net's largely because FA's comment button was centered on the page and HUGE).

But at this point in time, stories posted on AOOO first receive markedly fewer comments than those posted in LJ first --Aha, here's where I confused people: markedly fewer comments than they did at archives in 2003; authors note that it's also fewer comments than they receive on LJ.

If the archive is going to be an important portal for fandom, this problem needs to be resolved.

ETA2, aka, OH HAI, [community profile] metafandom people. Due to time constraints, I'll try to answer in a condensed form here:

1) I think the "nonfandom-lurker increase" theory is interesting but would have to be borne out by an increase in hits.
2) Other people's stats are showing 1%-ish hit/comment ratios at AOOO, 3%-ish at DW/LJ.
3) In terms of "comment split," the difference between now and 2003 is that comments in 2003 were split between archives and Yahoo mailing lists (which couldn't be tracked at all since they were emailed off-list) instead of between archives and LJ/DW. There's always been a split between comment delivery systems.
4) As for why the overall decline in commenting that seems to have occurred, it occurs to me that there is a lot more fic overall. Between 2007 and 2010, Harry Potter fic on FF.net increased from 300,000 fics to 477,000 fics. (Going from memory, there were about 180,000 HP fics on FF.net in November 2002.)
5) I would love to see if fics with a lot of delicious tags/recs received a higher hit/comment ratio. It could explain the 4% AOOO ratio on certain 2009 Yuletide fics. Anyone want to tackle this?
6) Yes, lots more to be done on data gathering and stats. Thank you for all your help. :)
busaikko: Something Wicked This Way Comes (Default)

[personal profile] busaikko 2010-09-28 07:54 am (UTC)(link)
You... enjoy statistics, don't you? *bonds with you* This is really interesting to know!

One thing I have observed is the power of posting links to comms. Because my journals became friends-only during kink bingo, most people used my AoOO links, and boy do those stories have hits. Likewise, stories posted to comms or linked on newsletters.

Another thing affecting AoOO now is the nifty new download feature, which makes fic more like podfic: I think many people are DLing stories to read later, especially Big Bangs. Whether or not they return to comment will be interesting to find out (academically, for me, but possibly traumatically, for you *face of woe*). (I don't think AoOO gives stats on fic DLs, does it? I'd be interested to know.)

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ext_3626: (Default)

[identity profile] frogspace.livejournal.com 2010-09-28 09:17 am (UTC)(link)
Another thing affecting AoOO now is the nifty new download feature, which makes fic more like podfic: I think many people are DLing stories to read later, especially Big Bangs.

Huh? I've always downloaded every single story I read. The new feature makes it possible to download it to eReaders (or something?) and you can download a PDF which makes printing it easier, but simple html downloads? I've done that since the mid-90s when I discovered fanfic archives. A simple "save as" is all it takes.

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elf: Petalwing in snow, saying "Yuletide!" (Yuletide)

[personal profile] elf 2010-09-28 01:59 pm (UTC)(link)
I wonder if the Yuletide fics run closer to standard archive comment ratios. There's a lot of AO3 that's imported older fics, and that probably skews things. (There's just something weird about being the first commenter on a five-year-old fic.)
anotherslashfan: sign reading f... (blotted out) censorship (Default)

Re: commenting is harder on the AO3, some additional thoughts

[personal profile] anotherslashfan 2010-09-28 04:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't have an AO3 account, so I use the regular comment function. I don't find it too bothersome; of course it is a little more work than commenting on lj/ij/dw, but only because I have to input my name and e-mail, as well, not just the comment itself.

In general, I think many factors are at work when it comes to comment ratios; I think the main difference between lj and the AO3 is that the latter is primarily perceived as an archive (hence its name) - and an archive comes with a different set of social netiquette rules than lj. At lj (and comparable services), commenting is more often linked to a sense of social responsibility (online friendship etc.) than at an archive which isn't a direct replica of a social network and therefore not binding you to rules in the same way.

On a more personal level it is thinkable of course that one defies the "rules" whereever; or that one is linked socially to the AO3 (as one of its developers or main supporters, basically someone who may perceive it as a net of relations and responsibilities first and foremost)... The list goes on.

It is worrying, though, that fic exchanges seem to garner less response now that they are hosted on the AO3, but factors like the popularity and history of a fandom should probably be considered, also.

When I think of inception_kink on lj, though, I find it hard to believe that it would be as lively were the exchange hosted on the AO3 - in the end it's maybe also a question of the future development of the AO3. Lots will change when admittance isn't restricted to those with invites, I should think. Once the AO3 has more networking qualities, it might begin to truly rival lj.
auburn: text on reddish-porange background (Harmless My Ass)

[personal profile] auburn 2010-09-28 08:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Nummy numbers. I mean, not the 1%, that's depressing, but the whole thing is interesting. I think what it shows is that the Archive needs to encourage a shift in the way fan readers think about it. It needs to encourage the LJ/DW metaphor instead of the archive/library one.

I've never found it hard to log into AO3, but I consistently forget I don't need to in order to comment. Commenting on AO3 is easier than leaving an anon comment on LJ or DW, there's no Captcha involved, just a name and an email. This needs to be emphasized.

God, help me, I think they need to do some *coughgag* public relations work.

Edited to put the words in coherent order.
Edited 2010-09-28 20:42 (UTC)

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[personal profile] jetamors 2010-09-28 11:29 pm (UTC)(link)
I just crunched the numbers, and my 2009 Yuletide fic has the same comments:hits ratio on AO3 as it does on FFN: 2%. (Which incidentally is markedly higher than the ratio on my other FFN fics, which are mostly hovering somewhere below 1%.) I suppose there are probably differences in cultures in different fandoms and pairings, but for me, at least, AO3 seems well in line with the kind of response I expect to get from other archives.
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[personal profile] torachan 2010-09-29 12:50 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I don't get a lot of comments on AO3, but I don't get a lot of comments on any archives. I think for most people archives feel more impersonal and they're less likely to comment than on journals.

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[personal profile] pocketmouse 2010-09-29 12:27 am (UTC)(link)
I actually tend to get more comments on yuletide fics than anything else. It's the one time of year I can absolutely guarantee to get comments on something I write.

And the download feature on AO3 is very new, it just came out in the last push, so I really don't think that's a factor.

I want to know what it was like on archives before journaling. Email is a whole different beast.

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[personal profile] sholio 2010-09-29 06:44 am (UTC)(link)
It's all over the map with mine. Some are better than my ff.net stats. Some get no comments at all because everyone's reading/commenting at LJ/DW. *checks* My Yuletide hit/comment ratio last year was about 4%. I think I got about the same number of comments (in terms of absolute numbers) on my previous year's Yuletide story, on the old archive, but it was a bigger and better-known fandom, so I actually did better than I would've expected in Yuletide this year.

I do know that for me, there's a sort of ... familiarity curve that has a subtle but noticeable effect on my willingness to comment. For example, I don't think I've ever left a comment on Wraithbait, and I have no idea why. I lurked for a long time on both LJ and ff.net before I started commenting, but now that I'm in the habit, I comment almost every time. And as much as I try, I still seem to be in lurk mode on AO3 too. I don't even know WHY. It's just that I'm more likely to comment on a platform whose interface is comfortable and familiar to me, like a well-worn shoe. If it works similarly for significant numbers of other people, perhaps a year or two of increased familiarity will improve the comment numbers.

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[personal profile] maire 2010-09-29 08:45 am (UTC)(link)
I've never actually felt *welcome* to comment in AOOO. I'm a non-writer, and it feels a lot like a private club, where only people who are posting should be commenting.
sophinisba: Gwen looking sexy from Merlin season 2 promo pics (gwen by infinitesunrise)

[personal profile] sophinisba 2010-09-29 12:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Hmm, that's the feeling I used to have on LJ before I started writing, but I don't feel the same way about the AO3. They even make it easier to leave a comment when you're not signed or don't have an account than LJ does. I just sometimes feel weird commenting when there are no other comments, and I don't like the way the default is for the system to hide the comments that are there.

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rodo: chuck on a roof in winter (Default)

[personal profile] rodo 2010-09-29 01:33 pm (UTC)(link)
My stats for ff.de are 100 hits per comment. And ff.net is even worse. So I really don't think that the AO3 is in any way worse than other archives. I'm not even sure that archives are worse than journals. I think the lack of comments has more to do with the fact that the archive is pretty new. A lot of people upload their older stuff and the focus is more on archiving and less of finding the newest fics so far.
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[personal profile] forestgreen 2010-09-29 06:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I haven't read all the comments here, so maybe someone has made this point: in BigBang stories the hit/comment ratio is bound to be lower because (I assume) people can't read a BB story in one go. I for one have started read it one, and have had to put it aside four times due to RL issues. I guess I'll need another three hits before I'm done read it, at which point I'll comment. It'd wouldn't happen with stories under 10k, although again, people might be inclined to comment less for shorter stories.

These are very interesting points regardless. Thanks for posting it.
hl: Drawing of Ada Lovelace as a young child, reading a Calculus book (Default)

[personal profile] hl 2010-09-29 09:49 pm (UTC)(link)
How are you calculating the archive-wide stats?
lazulisong: (Default)

[personal profile] lazulisong 2010-09-29 11:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I actually track fic popularity by how many people tag it on delicious. I've had several comments, even on AO3 that it was the third time they'd read something and finally felt guilty enough to comment. Whereas I've found huge paragraph reviews of a fic in a delicious link from people I've never heard a peep out of otherwise.
ext_93592: (mercury)

[identity profile] tetsubinatu.livejournal.com 2010-09-30 07:28 am (UTC)(link)
Yep - I do that too. I think I often have triple or more delicious bookmarks than comments on a fic!
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[personal profile] afullmargin 2010-09-30 03:03 am (UTC)(link)
I think that only the whole commenting has gone down across the board - but yes, I'd say the always having to log in and size/position of the comment button can make it a bit difficult to comment at AO3.

Honestly, I use it as my primary archive and LJ communities (and my personal LJ) for pimping and don't really get much in the way of comments:hits. Of course, I also write in somewhat small fandoms, older fandoms, and the like. I think if my stuff was in a bigger fandom I would see closer what you're seeing.

I get very few comments on LJ for fic, but I believe that is probably due to the fact that I redirect to the posting on AO3.
zeenell: (Default)

[personal profile] zeenell 2010-09-30 03:15 am (UTC)(link)
What I found with a lot of fics is that they are being posted to both the lj/dw and to AO3 at the same time - and since DW has the collapsible cuts and I have an add-on for LJ for that, I can click the cut, read the fic and central click the reply link for later replying while checking my flist/circle.

I know I'm not the only one doing that - so I wonder how much of that is also going on?

Actually, I tend to go back to the dreamwidth or LJ for commenting anyway - I just use the AO3 link for rec'cing.

*shrugs* *is weird*

sprat: an illustration of a girl posed in front of a cartoon alien  (Default)

[personal profile] sprat 2010-09-30 03:54 am (UTC)(link)
I think it might be at least partly a design thing, like people are saying above. The comment button is less obvious than it is in other interfaces, and if you unfold all comments and then scroll through them to the end, there isn't another "Add Comment" button there -- only a "reply" button for the last comment. I think that might confuse some people, which is somewhat discouraging of comments.

It may also seem like too much work to fill in the name and email address fields as well as the comment field, for those without an account. I don't think that's a flaw or that it needs resolution, necessarily. Just might be one of the factors.
amaresu: Meteor coming to earth waying 'Hugs!' (HUGS!)

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[personal profile] amaresu 2010-09-30 04:17 am (UTC)(link)
I think there are a number of things you need to take into consideration when looking at the hits to comments ration at AO3.

The first one being that for all that it's been talked about a lot it's still new. There are still people, active in various fandoms people, that have never heard of it. It hasn't become a full member in the fandom wide collective-mind-brain-thing yet.

The next is that for a fandom like SGA you have to remember that it's very LJ-centric. It also has it's own dedicated archive, Wraithbait. Comparing my Wraithbait and AO3 states shows just how much of a difference there is. All of my fics on Wraithbait have comments and at least 300 hits. I'm lucking to get 50 hits at AO3 and only two fics have comments. For fandoms with their own archives I find it hard to believe that AO3 will become their new place to hang out, even disregarding the LJ factor. My Doctor Who fic has similar stats because of the Teaspoon. People may be uploading their fic for those fandoms, but it doesn't look like they're reading those fandoms.

Another thing to consider is the fandoms themselves. A lot of fandoms these days are based on LJ/Dth. People read and comment there. I think once we have some fandoms that build up with both LJ/Dth and AO3 there might be an evening out. An interesting thing to look at is Supernatural. There was a post a few months ago talking about how the Wincest side of fandom doesn't get a lot of attention on AO3 and most of the rest of the fandom does. I think this is in part due to a number people in the non-Wincest side of fandom offering the option of reading on AO3 when they post their fics. Or immediately uploading at AO3 so those who want to read there can be relatively secure in knowing they'll find it there. AO3 has been much more predominate in that side of fandom over the past year and half or so. A quick filter shows that the fics with the largest number of hits are almost all non-Wincest.

It's very much a different reading atmosphere there. One that's still being figured out. Could there be improvements on the website to encourage commenting? Sure. But I'm not convinced that there is a hit:comment problem to be resolved.

Also: A thing to remember for the 2009 Yuletide stats is that the archive was having issues at that time. It was the first real test of the servers and it showed. There were a lot of delays and pages that wouldn't load. I remember tag wranglers were told to stop doing anything that wasn't emergency work until things calmed down. Personally there were a number of fics I never commented on because I couldn't get the comment box to open. It took me almost an hour to comment on one of my gift-fics. And I only persisted with that because it was one of my gift-fics. Instead I delicioused a lot of fics and just moved on. I'm positive I'm not alone there.

How do the stats look for the 2010 Remix Redux? That might be a better one to look at. It's still a large fandom wide thing, but it was done when a lot of behind the scenes stuff had been improved on from Yuletide.
Edited (subject line/I can't remember to write stuff *facepalm*) 2010-09-30 04:26 (UTC)
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Re: Here via metafandom

[personal profile] robling_t 2010-09-30 05:27 am (UTC)(link)
I'll second the remarks regarding dedicated archives; I back some stuff up to AO3 Just In Case, but for me the commenting action is split pretty evenly between my dedicated LJ comms and Teaspoon. One thing that does strike me about this: AO3 hasn't AFAIK implemented tracking/subscription features yet. The ability to have LJ or Teaspoon bug you directly about story updates/new stories by X probably does quite a bit to establish a relationship and continuity in a reader's mind, so maybe familiarity is breeding comments...

Re: Here via metafandom

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[personal profile] nic 2010-09-30 05:18 am (UTC)(link)
(Here via MF)

Very interesting post! A couple of thoughts on the data:

- Yuletide: I know that for me, I read a huge quantity of (short) stories very quickly. That means I comment a LOT less than I usually would. Most of the stories are outsie of my 'favourite fandoms' so I read them due to curiosity rather than burning desire. I tend to leave feedback for stories and fandoms I love and Yuletide, for the most part, doesn't fit that category.

- AO3 and Big Bang fics - I'll read the fic at AO3, but keep the LJ/DW window (containing the link) open for commenting. I'll post the comment at LJ - so I'm still commenting; it just doesn't match up with WHERE I read the story.

- The AO3 comment form: I don't like the fact that I have to enter an email address, so I often put in something like donotreply@nowhere.org

(I don't want authors to reply to my comments unless I ask a specific question. It wastes their time when they could be writing fic, and is a "thank you for your comment" going to have any impact on my life? No.)

- (Unrelated) I think the download feature is awesome. It reminds me of the first archives we had, where I was SO EXCITED that I could save the etire story as one file (to read later) rather than having to piece it together from newsgroup/mailing list posts. If a story is difficult for me to read offline (e.g. a 20 part, LJ only story), I will skip it. There are so many other things that are easier for me to read.

morganmuffle: (Default)

[personal profile] morganmuffle 2010-09-30 09:23 am (UTC)(link)
I'm not sure comparing Archive stats from 2003 with 2010 ones works.

In 2003 some people had Livejournals etc. but not everyone by any means and people were still getting the hang of posting on them and commenting on fics (and a lot of people were ringing their hands at the change from archives to personal journals) so places like Fiction Alley might be where all your interaction happened.

These days most people, I think, assume an author will have an LJ/DW somewhere, and they'll have one themselves, so the archives feels to be one step removed. Does that make any sense?

Have you tried looking at current Fiction Alley stats (if they match the 2003 ones I'll happily eat my words *g*)
yourlibrarian: InterestingCordy-dragonydreams (BUF-InterestingCordy-dragonydreams)

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[personal profile] yourlibrarian 2010-09-30 10:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Interesting stuff!

- The average hit/comment ratio ranged from 6-8%, i.e., up to 8% of all people who opened a story left feedback.

That seems better than the average return on LJ which I remember seeing once as around 2% (and which I think holds true for my own posts).

- Surprise! The quality of the story did not drastically change that ratio; stories riddled with SPAG and purple prose got the same ratio. Their hit counts were just lower.

That the ratios are the same doesn't surprise me as I expect people who read each type of story did so because they enjoyed them. It is interesting to see evidence that error-ridden stories put off readers though.

- The type of story did, however, affect the ratio: humor fics had a very high hit/comment ratio, averaging around 12%.

I suspect there would also be a difference between, say, gen and slash stories. But the humor factor also makes sense. It's more likely to appeal to people across the board (even if they know little about a fandom) and it's also easy for people who get anxious about commenting to know what sort of response is appropriate.

- On very popular stories like Cassandra Claire's Draco Trilogy, the hit/comment ratio dipped (surprisingly) lower than less popular stories.

This makes sense to me too. A popular story gets recced enough that more people will check it out but that doesn't mean it will be to their taste. Also, it will likely catch the attention of lurkers who will never comment, regardless.

- Stories where the author had a Yahoo Group and made a concerted effort to pimp their work and encourage a loyal following, the hit/comment ratios were the highest, at 36%.

Ha! This was the most interesting bit of info yet. Proof that marketing makes a difference no matter what the product. I find it kind of funny that the talk in marketing/advertising circles is all about the power of harnessing social networking, yet in actual social/community circles such as fandoms so many people fail to do so.