Next week marks my first anniversary as a contributing pundit on PolicyMic although I’ve held pundit status much longer than that. As I looked back over the articles and the commentary they generated, some trends emerged that seem to me to be worth sharing with the community
1. SEO headline generation may drive traffic, but that doesn’t seem to correlate to numbers of comments.
My most commented-upon articles were the earliest ones, written before SEO went into effect and before I was convinced to answer in the comment thread.
2. The articles which generated the most unique views are the least controversial (or Ron Paul is mentioned in the headline).
Of my articles that have generated hits in the thousands, the topics are such innocuous things as "Why Thanksgiving Has Lost Its Meaning," or "Snap Polls Don’t Win Elections."
3. A significant percentage of commentators either didn’t read the article at all or didn’t read it carefully.
Anyone who has been around PolicyMic for any amount of time is aware that most pundits do not write their own headlines – the editors compose them according to the SEO system of including key words that are trending at the moment on Google.
Thus, my parenthetical remark, above, about including Ron Paul. His name is a sure draw, but the commentators it attracts leave remarks such as “RON 2012!” that are generally not conducive to debate, if they’re even relevant.
So, everyone ought to be aware that the headline itself is seldom an indicator of the content of the article – right?
I also tend to write more subtly and more cerebrally than the average twenty-something does. To quote Shrek, “Ogres are like onions, they have layers.” Yes, I know you all think I can be an ogre sometimes.
But my raison d’être in writing for the site is to make all of you use your brains – your little gray cells (that is a reference, by the way, to Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective character). So use them. Read and ponder before your fingers run away with your keyboards. You might not sound so stupid and/or whiny when you leave your remarks.
That brings me to one of my pet peeves on PolicyMic.
4. Commentators who take generalizations personally.
As the most nearly ancient member of PolicyMic, I know the rules of conduct as well as the editors. Generalized statements about the low intelligence levels of a segment of our population (such as watchers of FOX News, or members of the TeaParty, just to name some salient examples) are not personal insults or ad hominem attacks.
If you identify with the group in question or feel slighted, that is your problem. The insult only exists within your imagination. My advice is not to make a public comment about it because that only advertises and exacerbates your misunderstanding.
To those of you with whom I’ve had wonderful discussions and cordial disagreements – my profound thanks and the hope that we continue our diaglouge indefinitely. Your intelligence, humor, insight and online friendship have enhanced and enriched my life.