How Many Reviews Are Too Many?

| Does the 3,250th review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have any influence on an Amazon customer? An Economist article says it does. In fact, says the article, the more online reviews a product has, the more likely people are to buy it. If reviewers know the reviews they write have influence, it may help answer Levitt’s earlier question: Why do so many people post reviews on Amazon? So what motivates blog readers, whose comments often number in the 100’s on this blog? One Freakonomics reader, Conor Lennon, recently emailed to say that he rarely bothers posting a comment unless he knows it will show up on the first page of comments (there are only 25 comments per page). He wonders if other commenters on this blog feel the same. [%comments]

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  1. Kaveman Koder says:

    If I can’t be on the front page, I’ll opt for being one of the last posters. People will often click the last page link to see where the comments lead.

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  2. kip says:

    Regarding comments:

    If I want *people* to read it, I will only post if it looks like I am going to be on the first page.

    If I want a particular person to read it, I might post starting with “@dave” syntax, if there haven’t been that many posts since the one I’m responding to.

    If I want the blogger to see it (as in this case), I will post no matter how many pages there are. (I operate under the assumption that most bloggers read all of their own comments.)

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  3. Bobby G says:

    I would post a reply here but who checks the 54th comment?

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  4. achilles3 says:

    depends on the subject…

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  5. Karen says:

    The probability I will post on a given topic or read through all the posts has very little to do with the number of posts already up there and a lot more to do with how bored I am at work that day.

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  6. Travis says:

    Firstly, let me say that I have been following this blog for nearly 18 months and this is only my second post, even though there have been MANY topics where I have had a strong opinion that I would have LOVED to voice.
    Given that I’ve only posted once previously, here are the reasons I choose NOT to post.
    I believe that the main motivation to participate in any discussion is because you will gain something from it, either recognition or learning. Unfortunately, on the Freakonomics blog, I don’t feel there is much opportunity to gain either.

    There are so many Freakonomics POSTS, I have a hard time keeping up and reading them all. If this is the case, I’m fairly certain that the blog authors don’t read the comments. I don’t even know if anyone involved in the blog reads all the comments (which is why I’ll also email this comment to the editor.) Also, there is no way to subscribe to comments for a specific post to “stay in the discussion”. You have to continually go back to the blog to read new comments.
    While I’m sure there are many astute blog readers, I’m not certain I would value recognition from a reader. I doubt anyone would care if I told them that their comment was exceptional.

    The comments aren’t moderated, other than for offensive content. Consequently, there are many comments that aren’t worthwhile.
    Also, it takes too much time to sift through them all. So, if there is a good comment from which you learn, it may not be worth the time it took to find it.

    At the end of the day, it feels like, when you enter a comment, it just goes into oblivion because you don’t get much/any worthwhile feedback. Even having your comment on the first page, Connor Lennon’s goal, doesn’t necessarily mean much, other than you submitted your comment quickly. I think that, if the Freakonomics blog authors/editors want more and better comments, you have to be more selective about the comments that get published. Why do athletes want a gold medal? Because they are so difficult to win. Filtering comments may not lead to a larger quantity of submissions, but it would probably lead to better discussions.

    By the way, I don’t think comments are similar to product reviews on Amazon.

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