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In a recent article we did dealing with a business that (perhaps jokingly) exhorted its facebook “fans” to “flame” a local blogger, commenter Generic asked, “How is sending traffic to someone else’s blog anything but a favor?” I asked our own Beth Spotswood, who has been the victim of many a (far less organized) flame on her column at SF Gate for her thoughts.

I originally asked Beth “can you explain to Generic why getting flamed sucks and is not worth the traffic?” But then I realized that this was kind of a bullshit thing to ask her! After all, it’s certainly worth the traffic to *me*, why am I assuming she’s such a delicate flower that it’s not worth it to her? So let’s hear what Beth has to say:

A few years ago, I would’ve said that traffic is so not worth it. But a few years ago, I cried when someone sent me an email telling me I rambled.

I’ve been writing my SFGate column for 3 years and uh, calling me a rambler is nothing. Just last week, someone suggested I get shot. Someone else called me a “fat cow east coast carpet bagger.” I was born on California at Cherry, but whatever. When I start to see a lot of comments on one of my posts, I emotionally prepare and remind myself, “It’s traffic. Lots and lots of traffic.” Because really, since I love writing and I want people to read it, I want traffic. Even if the crazy ones want me dead.

If I were KevMo from Mission Mission (which I’m not because I don’t adore Benders or jean shorts), I’d be fine with being “flamed” by members of a nightclub’s facebook page. And then I’d take every opportunity to rip on said nightclub until the end of time. Mission Mission is a great site. I bet a lot of those “nightclubbing douchebags” will stay and read some shit.

Thank you douchey nightclub for all of the traffic.

What I do not do if “flamed” (God, I hate that word) is respond in the comments. I guess it depends on the “flame” (still cringing), but for the most part, I don’t participate in comment wars. Why? Because I get to say whatever I want in a whole column. What’s up?

Also, can we please go back to using the word “flaming” as it was meant to be used? It’s supposed describe really great gay people. It’s a good thing.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Greg Dewar

    There’s actually been some studies done on traffic that indicate that “commenting” no longer brings people in the way it used to, and that it really only covers less than 1% of the readership and that different forms of sharing (i.e via facebook ,twitter, digg, email, etc,) will drive more traffic to a particular article.

    Plus, at the Gate, where people don’t use their real names and are still figuring out AOL dialup to rant about “librulls” and the like, the comments devalue the site to the point where I only read Beth’s column and a few things, and that’s it. Otherwise it’s a stew of disinformation and hate and makes you wonder if instant communication at the speed of light really is such a great idea.

    http://www.soapboxincluded.com/2009/09/28/an-end-to-blog-comments/

  • Greg Dewar

    There’s actually been some studies done on traffic that indicate that “commenting” no longer brings people in the way it used to, and that it really only covers less than 1% of the readership and that different forms of sharing (i.e via facebook ,twitter, digg, email, etc,) will drive more traffic to a particular article.

    Plus, at the Gate, where people don’t use their real names and are still figuring out AOL dialup to rant about “librulls” and the like, the comments devalue the site to the point where I only read Beth’s column and a few things, and that’s it. Otherwise it’s a stew of disinformation and hate and makes you wonder if instant communication at the speed of light really is such a great idea.

    http://www.soapboxincluded.com/2009/09/28/an-end-to-blog-comments/

  • bloomsm

    Opinions are like sphincters: everyone gets one.

    @gdewar is right about the SFGate comments. To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi’s description of Mos Eisley: “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villiany.”

    But my question is: are you in it for the reaction, or do you have the self-confidence to write what you believe, and damn the reaction?

  • bloomsm

    Opinions are like sphincters: everyone gets one.

    @gdewar is right about the SFGate comments. To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi’s description of Mos Eisley: “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villiany.”

    But my question is: are you in it for the reaction, or do you have the self-confidence to write what you believe, and damn the reaction?

  • Beth S.

    I am definitely NOT in it for the negative reaction. At all.
    I hope I always write what I believe. I don’t chaulk it up to self-confidence, necessarily. It’s just way more fun to write stuff I actually believe than to write stuff just to tick folks off…

  • Beth S.

    I am definitely NOT in it for the negative reaction. At all.
    I hope I always write what I believe. I don’t chaulk it up to self-confidence, necessarily. It’s just way more fun to write stuff I actually believe than to write stuff just to tick folks off…

  • Xenu

    How dare anyone question highly relevant internet comments? Clearly, Eve and Beth are neo-Nazi lesbians who eat children for breakfast and shoot kittens just for fun.

  • Xenu

    How dare anyone question highly relevant internet comments? Clearly, Eve and Beth are neo-Nazi lesbians who eat children for breakfast and shoot kittens just for fun.

  • Eve Batey

    Have “kittens” and “children” swap places and you’re dead on.

  • Eve Batey

    Have “kittens” and “children” swap places and you’re dead on.

  • Andrew Dalton

    I agree with you, Greg – but doesn’t that study also show you should let the flames happen (if we’re talking about them being good for traffic)? After all, it was the call to action on Debaser’s facebook page that escalated the whole thing to “flame war” (barf). And, as you point out, one comment left on the blog wouldn’t have had the same effect on traffic.

  • Andrew Dalton

    I agree with you, Greg – but doesn’t that study also show you should let the flames happen (if we’re talking about them being good for traffic)? After all, it was the call to action on Debaser’s facebook page that escalated the whole thing to “flame war” (barf). And, as you point out, one comment left on the blog wouldn’t have had the same effect on traffic.

  • generic

    So 3 out of 4 Big-Time Interneters agree? Traffic is a favor? (Mixed blessing, sure. A chocolate eclair with razors.) But bottom line: a plus. The negatives are all psychological, yes? Because SFGate is sui generis. Trolls from Texas aren’t commenting on SFWeekly are they?

    I’ll say this: I’m all over the SF blogosphere and was sorta “meh” on Mission Mission. Great site. Great community. Just not my cup of tea. But I’m paying attention now. Shit’s goin on over there. And yeah. Now that I think about it … I started visiting SFist during Seibelgate. Isn’t there an argument to be made that a 1% jump in readership can be pretty big?

  • generic

    So 3 out of 4 Big-Time Interneters agree? Traffic is a favor? (Mixed blessing, sure. A chocolate eclair with razors.) But bottom line: a plus. The negatives are all psychological, yes? Because SFGate is sui generis. Trolls from Texas aren’t commenting on SFWeekly are they?

    I’ll say this: I’m all over the SF blogosphere and was sorta “meh” on Mission Mission. Great site. Great community. Just not my cup of tea. But I’m paying attention now. Shit’s goin on over there. And yeah. Now that I think about it … I started visiting SFist during Seibelgate. Isn’t there an argument to be made that a 1% jump in readership can be pretty big?

  • Brock Keeling

    It’s lovely when the comments take on a life of their own with a good give and take. Richly rewarding, traffic-wise and to the writer. When that happens, it brings people back, I think. If it doesn’t increase traffic, a hefty amount of comments give a site a certain lilt.

  • Brock Keeling

    It’s lovely when the comments take on a life of their own with a good give and take. Richly rewarding, traffic-wise and to the writer. When that happens, it brings people back, I think. If it doesn’t increase traffic, a hefty amount of comments give a site a certain lilt.

  • Eve Batey

    Seriously, “a certain lilt”? Shut up, faggot.

  • Eve Batey

    Seriously, “a certain lilt”? Shut up, faggot.

  • Brock Keeling

    …a certain je ne sais quoi, if you will.

  • Brock Keeling

    …a certain je ne sais quoi, if you will.

  • Eve Batey

    FRENCH faggot! Go fuck a baguette! Or get fucked by one! Whatever!

  • Eve Batey

    FRENCH faggot! Go fuck a baguette! Or get fucked by one! Whatever!

  • bloomsm

    I’m sitting here happy when I get 30 hits in a day on my blog. I’m going to go be sick now.

  • bloomsm

    I’m sitting here happy when I get 30 hits in a day on my blog. I’m going to go be sick now.

  • Matt Stewart

    The blog that I had had tons of traffic but no commenters.

  • Matt Stewart

    The blog that I had had tons of traffic but no commenters.

  • SF94122

    : )

  • SF94122

    : )

  • cedichou

    I’d recommend an eclair over a baguette. Fewer crumbs.

    That being said, you get about 30 comments on the post on the nasty comments, half that on the meta-post on the nasty comments being worth their traffic, I say there’s a 10-comment-post to be written on how nasty-comments-posts-being-worth-their-traffic post are worth the traffic they draw.

  • cedichou

    I’d recommend an eclair over a baguette. Fewer crumbs.

    That being said, you get about 30 comments on the post on the nasty comments, half that on the meta-post on the nasty comments being worth their traffic, I say there’s a 10-comment-post to be written on how nasty-comments-posts-being-worth-their-traffic post are worth the traffic they draw.