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Since the post on HN about Lobste.rs there has been an influx of new users, and there now seem to be more more news items posted, and the average up-vote for news items seems higher. But I still see relatively few comments. Lots of news posts, most with zero comments.

Side-note: I would have liked newcomers to see this post and of course post a comment, but since people have had their preferences changed without their prior consent and probably still without their knowledge many are going to be oblivious to this request.

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    I think you overestimate how often people participate on sites like this, HN, and Reddit. Most people lurk and just absorb the information, only occasionally or never commenting.

    A large portion of the group does passive interaction by upvoting stories and comments. A smaller portion of the group does most of the commenting and submitting of new links, and the smallest subset of that group actually participates in the operation of the site (and meta-discussion). Putting all of the meta-discussion in front of every user will not make them more prone to get involved, it just takes up space on their screen with things they won’t voice an opinion on.

    On larger sites like Reddit or HN, it seems like a lot more people are involved simply because that 20% is such a large number of people and you never even notice the other 80% because they never post anything. This site only has 424 users so far.

    Edit: apparently on Internet forums the 80:20 ratio is more like 90:9:1

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      Have you thought about putting up a list like HN used to have of those with top karma?

      It would be interesting to see the drop off among the top 20% contributors vs the 80% who lurk.

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        Could you do it by top average karma per post/comment instead? Overall karma is not a great metric by itself for measuring how valuable a user is. For example, if someone posts many mediocre posts that each gets one or two votes, they can quickly accrue Karma, whereas if someone infrequently posts valuable comments or stories, they are unlikely to increase their karma as quickly. This would make people less likely to post overall, if they cared about their points, but I feel that it would increase quality, assuming people care about their points.

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      I almost never commented on HN. I most likely won’t comment much here… it’s not that I don’t think comments are valuable, it’s just me. I’m not apt to comment on things. Call it introverted, maybe a lack of confidence, I don’t know the reason, I just know that I rarely want to comment, and half the time when I do, I wind up deleting a half-written comment and just close the form.

      At any rate — I don’t want to analyze that (or be analyzed), but I don’t think I’m unique. Some people are just less likely to comment. Maybe there’s a lot of this sort of person (ie, less apt to comment) on lobste.rs right now. But, that’s just a guess.

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          While I have noticed this happening, I attribute it more to Lobsters being a new, and currently smaller, community than anything else. I think that as the user base grows we’ll see better and more original article submissions (I’ve actually already noticed a couple things hit here before HN).

          I’m also inclined to agree though, that meta may be better visible by default, at least for a bit longer. It probably makes sense to have meta turned off by default eventually, but while the community is still growing so quickly it could be helpful in creating a shared sense of identity, values and culture.

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          The truth of HN (and most communities where conversation is king) is that there are relatively few people who are conversation starters. For many people, it’s hard to walk into what’s basically the equivalent of an empty room and say, “Well, here are my thoughts on the topic of the day!” It’s far easier to jump into an already flowing conversation.

          Another possibility is that much of the content here is duplicated on HN and people are still posting their commentary there (which would be sad, honestly).

          Still another is the idea that the more technical, less business content of Lobsters leads itself to less vigorous debate; it’s easy for everyone to have an opinion on a new startup. As (primarily) a JavaScript engineer with very little C experience, I have very little to say on the topic of Matrix translations in C—to use a recent example. Even if linked SO page was relevant to me; the conversation that’s already happened there is exceptionally detailed and well-researched; there’s just not a ton for people to add.

          All that said, I’ll commit to doing my part to help start conversations on the topics about which I feel comfortable contributing. I do believe that it will get better if we can have a few more folks actively “striking up the conversation.”

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            Thanks for the comments :)

            It’s interesting that there seemed to be many people on HN clamoring for an invite, and now it seems that they mostly just wanted Yet Another News Source. But you can get that without being registered, so what’s the point?

            I suppose the next meta question is how do you encourage people to comment. And how to do so in way that does not promote bullshit participation.

            My own reasons for not commenting tend to be either a decent comment would take more time then I have available, or I don’t know enough to say anything useful. Or I’m reading on my phone and commenting anything of value is too tedious.

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              IMHO comments will happen naturally. We’re all still getting to know each other. It took me a long time reading HN before I felt I had comments people may find useful. It will just take time.