One of the features of CyStats is that it keeps track of how many people comment on the blog, and it provides a list of the twenty most frequent comment authors and how many comments they each have made. Pray Tell averages 1.75 posts per day and 46.6 comments per day.

Frequency of Comments

Since the blog began in January 2010, nine people have commented over 1,000 times, one of whom has made more than 2,000 comments. All twenty of the most frequent commenters have posted over 500 comments.

Gender Balance

The top ten most frequent commenters are all men. Three of the top twenty commenters are female; the rest are male. The ratio of men’s comments to women’s comments shows an even greater disparity. The total number of comments from men is 19,466, and from women, 2,208. In other words, 15% of the top commenters are women, but 89.81% of the comments were made by men, and only 10.19% by women.

Although in theory this disparity might be mitigated by the remainder of the commenter pool, a general scan of the comment boxes suggests that this does not really happen. A nine-to-one ratio seems, if not exact, at least close to what we see overall.

Contributors and Commenters

Contributors to the blog made up 25% of the top 20 commenters. The number of their comments, however, added up to only 4,037, which is 18.63% of the total comments among the top twenty comment authors.

Conclusions

The number and frequency of comments says nothing, of course, about their quality. But the information here can help us to see a few things clearly that may be of real value.

First among them is the fact that so much of the discussion at Pray Tell is among men. (This does not correlate with ordination, for the great majority of the most frequent commenters at Pray Tell are lay.) It seems fitting to ask why women comment less frequently, and whether one thinks this is a problem.

Second, the considerable participation of blog contributors in discussion is a good sign, I think. It suggests that there is mixing between contributors and commenters in the threads, rather than an Olympian distance! At the same time, the numbers suggest that the greater part of the discussion is carried on by commenters who are not contributors, which is as it ought to be.

Third, it is only to be expected that some readers will comment more frequently than others. But the great disparities among just the top twenty contributors, from the lower 500s up to 2,000 or more, is interesting. It shows that a rather small group of people has had a large role in shaping the blog discussion.