Whatever the reason, The Daily Axe has had a surprisingly low comment-to-traffic ratio. Inevitably, part of the problem was the newness of the site: who wants to be the first person to comment on a story, especially if there’s no guarantee that others will respond and leave their own thoughts? At least part of the credit for a low comment count also goes to the comment platform, which was clunky at best and, more realistically, was a minor nuisance.
To change that, we’ve implemented two measures that hopefully will encourage more comments on DailyAxe.com content. First of all, comments now go through a Disqus-powered platform, making commenting easier and more aesthetically pleasing. You can easily make an account complete with a profile picture of your choosing (which appears next to all of your comments), or comment without an account. Making an account takes under a minute to complete and gives you a consistent brand on the site while allowing you to assume a greater role in the The Daily Axe’s active readership than anonymous users.
You can like comments made by others, respond specifically to other comments, and sort comments by what others have liked, what is popular right now, or simply by chronology. You can also tag other users in your comment, further increasing the social aspect of the system. The platform also tracks Reactions, which summarize what people are saying about the article on Twitter and on other sites. This is not a comprehensive feature list, either: Disqus offers many other perks best discovered by trying it out.
Secondly, we read the comments, so your thoughts don’t drop off into an empty void of cyberspace. Have a question for the writer responsible for an article? Put it in a comment and you’ll get a response. Do you wish an episode of the podcast (on hiatus until football season begins) had discussed Topic X instead of Topic Y? Let us know.
Along similar lines, we’ve gone away from moderation before comments go live. As soon as you write a comment, it will appear on the site. We’ll monitor to make sure that clearly inappropriate comments don’t stay on, but no pre-publishing moderation makes commenting a real-time process with live conversations.
There’s no ulterior motive on our end; comments just make the site better by fostering community among readers and Stanford fans, and that’s the end we want to promote. That makes The Daily Axe, and being a Stanford fan in general, more fun and more social.