Thursday, October 22, 2009
What audience do I write for?
Gevlon blogs about me not being harsh enough to comment trolls. His policy is that when on his blog a commenter points out a mistake, the comment gets deleted, and the mistake fixed without any record of the edit. Like the party fixing historical records in 1984, that makes Gevlon look omniscient and always correct, because he leaves no trace of ever having been wrong. And he has an interesting justification for it. Gevlon says:
My most disliked action is "sneak editing", aka fixing an error in the post and delete the referring comment. I'm writing it for the readers. See it from this perspective. He is not interested in old incorrect versions and their incremental fixation, nor the comments that pointed out the errors. He wants to read an error-free post.Now statistically speaking, Gevlon has a point. There are 3,000 people visiting my blog every day, plus another 3,000 reading the RSS feed, which is a lot compared to the 25 comments the average post gets. But the comparison with Blizzard is dead wrong: Outside Asia, Blizzard is dealing with customers who are all paying about the same monthly fee, thus they have a good reason to try to make content for all of them, and not just some 1-10% subgroup. But what if WoW was Free2Play, and only that 1-10% subgroup was paying, while the other 90-99% were playing for free? It would still make sense to not totally neglect the majority, as they could always decide to move into the paying subgroup. But you'd want to favor the payers over the non-payers, to make paying more attractive. In such a model, not everyone in your audience is equal.
Exactly like Blizzard I won't make content for only 1-10% of my subscriber base. While I personally like intelligent commenters more than a random guy who spends 2:15 on the site, my personal feelings does not matter. Business is business, cost effectiveness above all!
My blog isn't much different. Not everyone in my audience is of equal importance to me. Google Analytics tells me that over the last 30 days I got 68 visitors who found me by typing the search words "Age of Conan sex" into Google. Most of my visitors only stay between 1 and 2 minutes on my site. So why should I value those visitors as much as I value the readers who come here regularly, especially those who leave feedback?
I consider those of my readers who leave comments to be "paying" customers, while the others are Free2Read customers. :) And as my commenters are important to me, I take their feelings into account in my comment moderation policy. I do agree with Gevlon that I should have deleted the troll comments which derailed my "transferring a character is cheaper than buying gold" thread earlier. But even when I finally deleted those comments, I still left a note of why I did that. And whenever somebody points out a mistake I made, I do *not* delete the comment pointing out the mistake, and I *do* leave either a comment or a note in the post that I edited it to fix the mistake.
That is not to say that I allow every comment on my blog. I regularly reject comments (and with the new system you actually never see them), either because they are comment spam, or because they add nothing to the discussion, or because they contain personal attacks. Unfortunately we live in a world where you can't mention the possibility that some game might possibly have some flaw without somebody shooting off a "you are just a WoW fanboi" (or "you are just a WoW hater" in case I'm talking about WoW) one-liner comment. Also I get those stupid "you shouldn't write about this subject" comments Gevlons mentions and delete them. Comments which don't use the word "you" are usually of higher quality. But I think I sufficiently explained my comment moderation rules and reader rights in my Terms of Service.
The point is that I am not afraid to admit that I'm just human. I make mistakes, I get hurt, I get angry, I react, just like everybody else does. And I do have a social relationship with my "community", however you want to define it. There are rules, but there is also respect, and mutual appreciation. My blog is not "business", it is far more personal than that. And the funny thing is that if Gevlon would be honest to himself, he'd realize that writing a not-for-profit blog is an extremely social act, as the only rewards for it are of the social kind.