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The Future of The Daily Cartoonist
I’ve dropped hints here and there that major changes were afoot here at The Daily Cartoonist. I want to take this opportunity to communicate what changes are coming and why.
I created the blog five years ago as a means of better understanding where comics were heading – more specifically syndicated comic strips and editorial cartoons. I had no “business plan” or goal as to what the blog would become and I had know idea that it would become the community that it has become. The first three years, I enjoyed a positive reputation. I often received compliments on how informative and civil the comment section. Sure there was the occasional flame war, but overall the blog had become a destination for excellent commentary.
Since then the tone in the comments changed. Moderating the comments became more difficult and I adopted a freer “if they want a flame war, let them have a flame war” attitude. Unfortunately that decision has altered the perception of the blog. No longer is it viewed as the informative place to go but where all the bat-shit-crazy (excuse the French) cartoonists go.
Looking at the blog as a business, the blog is the sum of two products – news and commentary. It’s hard to calculate the number of people who visit each day just to read the comments. Most come for the news and then check to see what people are saying about it. Controversial topics increase traffic about 20%-25% or so. You’d think with increase traffic, ad clicks would increase, but looking at the numbers there is no corresponding increase in ad revenue on those days. Apparently flame throwers don’t click ads.
On the other side of the equation, there are real quantifiable costs to having an open comment system. The blog is not my day job, but it is usually my day job that is interrupted to read the comments, pull comments from the moderation or spam queue, take phone calls or respond to emails from angry reader who feels maligned. These are real costs on my time and energy. Those that advocate the most vocally about how the comments should remain open pay none of the costs. Ask any marketer and they’ll tell you word-of-mouth advertising is king. Unfortunately the word-of-mouth messaging surrounding the blog is negative. The comment section is hurting my brand.
After months of waffling, weighing and wondering I’ve made the decision to close the comments completely for now. The benefits no longer outweigh the costs.
I’m working on a redesign for the site that I hope to launch in the coming weeks. One of the main goals is to redirect the discussion out to you and wherever you socialize (think Facebook and Twitter). That way the discussion can continue and I reduce my costs of having to moderate it.
There will be other content changes. I will continue to cover newspaper based cartooning which has been the core of my coverage to date, but will be increasing my “beat” to include other areas of sequential art that I typically haven’t covered. I’ll detail those changes in a later post.
One last item of business. Last week I made the decision to cut off access to the comments for several individuals. The direction of the blog is changing. It wasn’t personal or based on a disagreement over their views. Mostly it had to do with their inflammatory style of debate that is no longer welcome on the blog.
You may all flog me now for the decision. In a couple more weeks you won’t be able to.
PS – if you don’t want to leave a comment, but want to give me your take (positive or negative) on this action or the future of TDC, please feel free to email me.