Top Commenters at Pray Tell

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.


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.






36 responses to “Top Commenters at Pray Tell”

  1. Nancy Dallavalle Avatar

    This gender disparity is consistent with comments on blogs elsewhere. Another thing to measure is the length of comments. I suspect that the average male comment is lengthier than the average female comment.

    Most of the authors in any issue of Commonweal or America — or Theological Studies for that matter — are men, check any index. Most of the books reviewed are by men, reviewed by men. Most of the footnotes refer to scholarship by men, even if you bracket references to works authored before 1970.

    This is a huge issue, but it is not peculiar to Pray Tell. Nor do I think that it is a case of the gatekeepers simply rejecting women’s contributions — women just aren’t contributing nearly as much, to these outlets, as men are. My sense is that the gender disparity has gotten worse in the last ten years or so.

  2. Earle Luscombe Avatar
    Earle Luscombe

    I am an avid reader of Pray Tell, and have been for what seems like a long time. I have learned a great deal from this blog. I have rarely posted and here’s why.

    I am not a trained liturgist, or theologian. I have no academic backgound in either. Consequently even though I may disagree with a comment, or agree with said for that matter; I feel I could not give an adequate response, so I say nothing.

    The second thing is; I never could write a decent paragraph, and still can’t for that matter.

    Finally, comments based on emotion, in my judgemt, contribute little to a civilized discussion. Turns into a shouting match. But if you have little else to offer but your emotional response other than stirring up a battle, what have you contributed? So I keep quiet, and I learn.

    1. Adam Wood Avatar

      @Earle Luscombe – comment #2:

      1. Commenting and contributing is one way to work out your own thoughts and ideas. You don’t have to be a professional liturgist or theologian to have an opinion. You may find that jumping in when you feel you have something to say helps put you on the path toward learning more. I know it has for me.

      2. I can’t tell from your comment if you would write great prose, but it’s clear you can string words together into perfectly understandable sentences and paragraphs.

      (This is a skill that continues to elude even some of the more prolific blog writers/commenters, and they seem to be doing just fine… as far as any of us can tell, anyway, since we have no idea what they’re saying. Yes, Friend Charles, I’m walking to you. 🙂 )

      So, I encourage you- if you want to- join the conversation.

  3. Victor Wowczuk Avatar
    Victor Wowczuk

    I do not see why it is huge issue. Women tend to think with their emotions, and emotional thought is difficult to express in words such as on a blog. Men tend to think with their reason which is more easily expressed through words. What is huge is the difference between men and women on this, and why they are so complimentary. Plato thought that because of this difference, women should not be involved in areas that require lots of ratiocination, such as politics and philosophy. But I think that should go the other way too, that men should not get involved in areas that require a lot of emotional commitment like nursing the sick and educating young children.

    1. Corinna Laughlin Avatar

      @Victor Wowczuk – comment #3:
      I also read in silence most of the time, because the comments usually devolve within a few posts into arguments or debates, not discussion in which people are actually learning from each other’s points-of-view. It’s seldom very rewarding to join in. But I applaud those few women who do!

      The characterization of men and women in Mr Wowczuk’s post is almost too absurd to be offensive. All one has to do is explore some of the thousands of comments posted to Pray Tell to see that men are often swayed by emotions and allegiances that have little to do with reason. Just because someone cites Plato, Aristotle, or St Thomas Aquinas in his response doesn’t mean that he isn’t having what is, at bottom, an emotional “gut” reaction to the issue.

    2. Terri Miyamoto Avatar
      Terri Miyamoto

      @Victor Wowczuk – comment #3:
      Good heavens. This is being written in the 21st century?

      The reason I don’t contribute more is that so many of the threads devolve into emotional — not rational — diatribes. By men, I might point out.

      I suspect women are less comfortable with the competitive, conflictual attitude that shows up in comments, here and elsewhere. But maybe we’re just busy cooking dinner and mopping up afterwards.

    3. frank thompson Avatar
      frank thompson

      @Victor Wowczuk – comment #3:
      Victor,Victor,having taught women in high school,college and graduate school,to say I am stunned is to put it mildly.Your perceptions may be those of ancient Greece. Have you noticed it is 2012.

    4. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      @Victor Wowczuk – comment #3:
      If by “think with emotion”, you are referring to those who look to see how Church law affects people in their daily lives, and how those results conform to the teachings of Jesus, then I am proud to “think with emotion”. Of course, by those standards, “to think with reason” is to search in Canon law, ecclesiastical writings and philosophical writing down through the ages to find a quote to justify an opinion, regardless of the pain that may cause to others.

  4. crystal watson Avatar

    * ” Women tend to think with their emotions, and emotional thought is difficult to express in words such as on a blog. Men tend to think with their reason which is more easily expressed through words.” *


    When I majored in philosophy at college, there were less women (and also less minorities). Don’t know why, but I’m pretty sure it’s not because of the opinion expressed above 🙂

  5. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    In the college classroom situation, it has often been observed that men participate more and women less when the instructor is male, and that women participate more and men less when there is a women instructor. I have actually witnessed it for the same classroom.

    It would be interesting to know the ratio of comments by men and women depending upon the whether or not the contributor is a man or woman.

    I feel that I have been fortune in living in environments where the male female participation ratio was fairly equal, such as the annual meetings of the American Psychology Association. When I tried out the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature meeting, I liked the content but could not stand the overwhelming male participation.

    Usually when I see a post by a women contributor, I say great there will be more women discussing, less men discussing and less conflictive male behavior. Maybe I am just projecting my prejudices. Do we have any data?.

    If there are more comments by women when there is a woman contributor, increasing comments be women would be simple, increase women contributors and the number of posts by women contributors (Oh, more work for Rita!).

  6. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    In regard to number of people who comment, I would be interested in the trend line of the number of different people who comment and how that has changed over time. I strongly believe that the more people who comment the better. The question is how to encourage that.

    I think it is difficult for people to jump in. It was for me, and had I spent about twenty years engaging in public discussions in the mental health system and was a college professor. It was easy once I got used to it; I was surprised at the number of posts where I was interested. In fact so surprised at how much I was commenting that for about a year I did my own counts, and managed my comments so that I would end up not being ranked above 15 but was usually in the top 20. I would be happy to receive my ranking on a periodic, e.g. monthly or quarterly basis. Maybe if all the top twenty received their ranking (but no one elses) you might initiate a downward spiral if most of the top twenty followed my tactic of wanting not to be in the top 15.

    Sometime back we did a post in which we encouraged as many people as possible to share their experience and limited people to one comment. That strategy does not work for every or perhaps even many posts, but perhaps the contributors could give us one post a week that would be done that way. I think it might be easier for people to comment if they thought they did not have a commitment to comment much, and that it was unlikely that other people (e.g. the regulars) would be responding.

    Once new people got used to commenting on the one comment posts, they might find it easier to migrate to regular commenting.

  7. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
    Jordan Zarembo

    One factor which often influences forum participation is web interface design. Persons who might want to contribute (and should!) might be deterred by the way in which comments are arranged into topics and subtopics. I commend PTB for recently changing the way in which comments are listed and interconnected. Still, a one author, blog-and-combox-response, linear comment system might alienate potential participants or discourage occasional participants from participating more.

    Despite his prejudices, Victor indirectly underscores an important point. I would say that all contributors (with an emphasis on the irrelevance of gender) should be encouraged to not only rhetorically defend a position but also discuss their emotional perspective on a topic. One thread might not be sufficient to sufficiently blend these two necessary and complementary currents.

    Might I suggest the following: perhaps PTB might experiment with other ways to enhance the diversity of perspectives. Perhaps a topic might include shorter posts from two or more authors, or a series of topics with multiple shorter perspectives on the same theme. Authors, with mutual permission, could read each other’s drafts and work collaborative comments into their observations before opening a comment thread. Or perhaps PTB contributors and editors might like to have more “wrap-up” threads. “Wrap up” threads might offer some contributors and participants more time to digest the original topic and comments that have accumulated over a week’s time or so.

    These are mere ideas of mine. I do not wish to give more work to the editors or the tech team, but I do hope these suggestions enhance not only gender inclusivity but also a greater number of perspectives.

  8. Ann Olivier Avatar
    Ann Olivier

    Mr. Wowczuk – –

    After I had been teaching philosophy and logic for a couple of years I was very concerned to notice that conspicuously more females had earned A’s in logic than had males. I was alarmed because I didn’t want to be unfair to the guys, so I took my concern to an old Dominican who had been teaching philosophy and logic for 40 years or so. He wasn’t at all surprised. He told me that “Girls always do better in logic than boys. They’re much more logical. Don’t worry about it”.

    If it’s any consolation to you, the very top logic students included more males than females. Weird.

  9. Charles Culbreth Avatar
    Charles Culbreth

    Were I AWR or Rita, I’d be more concerned as to why the innate culture at PTB appears to elicit or actually inculcate divisiveness, as is evidenced by the commentary here thus far, rather than dialectic that leads to enlightenment, if not consensus?
    Can’t we see both trees and forests?

  10. Chuck Middendorf Avatar
    Chuck Middendorf

    As a regular reader (and male, as you can tell by my name), I tend to stop and pause and read more carefully anything a woman has to say. The church doesn’t always have a good track-record of listening to those on the margin, and giving a place for those on the margins to speak. So when I see a female comment, I tend to pause, read it more slowly and carefully, and see what the Spirit is trying to tell me.

    Or, maybe it’s just because when I see the same 10 or so guys comment, I assume it’s going to be the same personal attacks, same arguments about EF or OF, etc., so I tune them out or skip over their comments.

    I’d love it if there were a way you can max out the number of comments made? Let’s say 999 comments, and then you have to take a month off. I always learn more and grow in my knowledge and my own faith when I hear new people speak (women and men), who aren’t the usual people who run first to the microphone so they can hear themselves talk.

  11. Graham Wilson Avatar
    Graham Wilson

    I’m sorry to report that I have become habituated to ignoring “the usual” not-very-helpful reactionary blah from a handful of (male) commentators who seem to have no doubt about anything and and an opinion on everything. I don’t even make it past the first sentence of their posts any more — sad to say that their names are enough to raise the auto-skip flag in my mind.

    I do think that less would be more for some here.

    Sometimes an unexpressed thought may actually be helpful – just my opinion 🙂

    1. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

      @Graham Wilson – comment #14:
      I suppose there are some commentators whom I tend to scroll by, but I don’t think it is because of their ideology: i.e. they are as likely to be “progressive” as “reactionary” (Graham: since I’m responding to this you are obviously not one of these). I think I tend to scroll past those whom I at least perceive tend to make more or less the same comment no matter what the issue under discussion.

      I would encourage those who feel as if they do not have the scholarly expertise to comment to go ahead and comment anyway. Thoughtful comments by plebs sancta Dei (oops — sorry for the show-off Latin — the “common holy people of God”) that grow out of their experience of and reflection on worship is always welcome in my book.

      1. Linda Reid Avatar
        Linda Reid

        @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #18:
        I would agree with your comment about “perceive to make more or less the same comment no matter what the issue….” That is what I meant by my original post.
        But perhaps I do not wish to categorize myself as the “Common holy people of God” (whether in Latin or English) just because I do not hold a doctorate in theology! 😉 So I post little….

  12. Linda Reid Avatar
    Linda Reid

    Graham Wilson : I’m sorry to report that I have become habituated to ignoring “the usual” not-very-helpful reactionary blah from a handful of (male) commentators who seem to have no doubt about anything and and an opinion on everything. I don’t even make it past the first sentence of their posts any more — sad to say that their names are enough to raise the auto-skip flag in my mind. I do think that less would be more for some here. Sometimes an unexpressed thought may actually be helpful – just my opinion

    May I quietly and humbly agree with Graham (as I had with his former posts when he was posting) Certain posts from certain people leave me speechless, as in, “Do people really think/feel that way?” Therefore I do not post much.

  13. Charles Culbreth Avatar

    Not knowing whether this will be read by Graham or Linda, I would welcome more transparency in their opinions. What is tough to discern here at PTB if diversity of opinion is really desired, whether there is litmus test for intellectual or scholastic prowess or ideologies, whether the forum is actually open and free expression welcomed no matter from whom, whether we truly believe we are faithful members of the same Church or members of an association of illuminati?
    It’s difficult to see quietude and humility when, as I said earlier, divisiveness and now discrimination/derision is tossed into the mix in an anonymous, almost passive-agressive casual manner.
    If apparently we can’t see both trees and forests, can’t we make more of an effort to see anyone who posts here in the light of Mt.25?

    1. Linda Reid Avatar
      Linda Reid

      @Charles Culbreth – comment #16:
      Charles, here is as transparent as I can get. There are some who post the same comment/opinion over and over again. You can’t change their minds, as they are an absolute monarch in their own minds! Those I skip. There are those who post with the attitude “I can quote more documents/theological tomes than you ever dreamed of reading” I have conceded that, “Yes, you can, so I dare not respond”
      I agree that the tone has become marginally more civil and I can point to those who strive to make it so. So I continue to read, if not respond very much

      1. Charles Culbreth Avatar

        @Linda Reid – comment #22:
        Thank you, Linda, for the context and perspective.
        I would also enjoy more of the “wit” portion of the mission tag in the header to ameliorate the broadsides!
        Glad you enjoyed NPM, wish you’d gotten Dr. J’s binders!

      2. Linda reid Avatar
        Linda reid

        @Charles Culbreth – comment #23:
        Me too, Charles!!! Thanks!

  14. Kathleen Basi Avatar

    I wanted to comment when I first started reading, but the lag between my fingers and what appeared on the screen was so great that I couldn’t keep my train of thought. I couldn’t figure out the technical problem, so I stopped trying. Today it doesn’t seem to be a problem…new computer, perhaps.

    The length of comments has also been off-putting, as well as the tone of many, which seems to indicate very high education levels, which made me feel as if I had nothing to add. FWIW.

  15. Jack Wayne Avatar
    Jack Wayne

    I ignore some comments – usually because the person just wants to drown out other opinions and not actually talk with anyone else. I tend to post a lot about the EF since that is mostly what I attend, but will note most EF discussion seems to be brought about by people who dislike the EF and think SP was a huge mistake.

    IMO, comments have gotten somewhat better over time. There used to be an obvious double-standard here and some people used to freely belittle and bully anyone they wanted provided their liturgical opinions were agreeable to the moderators.

  16. Charles Culbreth Avatar
    Charles Culbreth

    See, I can take a punch to the solar plexus from a young upstart!
    But’s that’s also why I need to take a powder! Next article, please.

  17. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    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.

    The 25% of contributors in the top 20 commenters is ideal. They communicate that commenting as well as posting is important, and that they are interested in the quality of the commenting by taking part in it.

    On the other hand, the 75% percent of the top 20 who are not contributors are equally important; they communicate that the blog is also about the readers and their opinions.

    If the 75% percent who are not contributors reduced their comments to less than the contributors (making the contributors the top five commenters) the contributors would be perceived as dominating the blog. That could be worse than the situation of ten male commenters dominating the blog.

    When I was self monitoring I chose rank #15 as my ideal because that put me in the middle of the contributors who were in the top twenty but not in the top ten (which is why they have only 18% of the comments)

    The easy way to help set the number of comments level for the top 20 commenters is by giving each a monthly e-mail thanking them for being among the top twenty for the last three months, giving them their # of comments and the names and number of comments of each of the contributors who also rank in the top twenty. I would not give out the whole list because you want the contributors to be the benchmarks of comparison, and I would not give out ranks (some might think a higher one was better).

    The leadership role of being a frequent commenter is a very important one. Perhaps if we recognized that, and discussed it more we would encourage more people (especially women) that they should assume more of these leadership roles. We don’t want to just encourage more women to comment, and women to comment more often but subtlely discourage them from occupying the top commenter roles. That is going to keep the men there even if they lower their comment levels to those of the contributors among the top twenty.

  18. Julie Boerio-Goates Avatar
    Julie Boerio-Goates

    As a part-time, self-taught volunteer liturgist ministering in a bilingual parish in a mission diocese, I read this blog almost daily. I have learned a lot from lurking, particularly in the early days when much liturgical history was reviewed. My two or three posts did not elicit significant responses, so I decided I was not in the main stream, and I continue to lurk.

    Victor’s comment #3 reminds me of the Benedictine priest teaching physics for the first time to 2 young women after years teaching to only men. On the first day of class, he told us he knew we were there for the favorable male/female ratio and that he would not allow us to disrupt his class. On the last day of class, when we finished 1and 2, he was honorable enough to apologize for his words and even invited us to become physics majors.

    As a university professor who has taught both mostly male engineering and chemistry students and general education physical science classes with a nearly equal mix, my experience is that men have much more confidence in the correctness of their answers (whether it’s true or not) and are therefore willing to speak out more. Women wait to respond until they are absolutely positive they know the answer.

    I expect the same may play out on this and other blogs.

  19. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky


    As one of the top 20 commenters, let me personally invited you to a seat among us.

    You have the minimum qualifications: you read PTB almost daily (less than 2 new posts a day and less than 47 comments a day). You can speed read through about a half of those comments since the daily commenters often say the same thing or view.

    All you do to claim your seat is to make a comment a day. You won’t be taking anyone else’s space, you will be increasing the daily PTB comments by one. No penalty for missing a day.

    Why am I inviting you specifically?

    I joined the leadership group because I wanted volunteer readers, especially highly educated professional volunteers, to hear a fellow voice. We need more women volunteers in the leadership group so that the many more women volunteers in our parishes and institutions feel that women like them are at the comments table.

    Don’t write for the contributors or the other commenters like myself. Forget about the feedback from the contributors and the commenters; whether positive or negative. If you write for us you will be neglecting the vast majority of the readers.

    Think about all the volunteers and women out there and what they would like you to address. If you need feedback share PTB with your friends and volunteers and have them send you e-mails.

    In the public mental health system’s many open meetings, although I spoke to the agenda items, and maybe in response to some other manager, I was always speaking to everyone out there, especially to line staff workers, family members, consumers, the taxpayers, etc. who had a stake in the mental health system.

    I have brought my social science background, my management background, to this table. You already brought your teaching experience; you also have bilingual parish experience which we need. But what we really need to get better answers is as much diverse experience as possible in the comments.

    Hope you will give it a try; no hurry to decide; the opportunity is always here.

  20. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    Ten more people giving one comment a day.

    For all the rest of you out there lurking or just occasionally commenting, I think we need about ten more people giving a comment a day. That will increase the total comments to about 57 a day. You won’t be taking anyone else’s space and reading ten more comments a day is not going to burden the rest of us.

    We need a lot more fresh voices at the inner circle of table, especially voices of the many women who staff our parishes and other institutions as paid or volunteer staff.

    But most of all we need the concrete data and experience that can be brought to the table by people in our parishes and institutions as either paid or volunteer staff. There are plenty of people already who know all the theory and the arguments.

    I feel many times that I am pinch hitting for people whom I do not see at the table, e.g. Orthodox and Eastern Rites, people who are interested in the Divine Office, etc/.

    I was very disappointed at the little interest shown in my post about the African American survey. They are a real potential resource for us and we seem to have few people who have any knowledge in this area.

    We also have very little knowledge being brought to the table about Hispanic, bilingual and non-English speaking communities. Gosh if we just had the number of posts and the number of comments bringing experience about this area as we have about the EF, we would be in much better shape. We are headed at full speed into the future looking through the rear view mirror.

    As I said to Julie, don’t worry about the other daily commenters whether they ignore you or pay attention to you, think well or ill of you. Don’t worry about the contributors. You are coming to the inner circle of the table to write for and represent the interests of the readers. Think mainly about how best to serve their interests.

    1. Jack Wayne Avatar
      Jack Wayne

      @Jack Rakosky – comment #30:
      Jack Rakosky said: “We also have very little knowledge being brought to the table about Hispanic, bilingual and non-English speaking communities. Gosh if we just had the number of posts and the number of comments bringing experience about this area as we have about the EF, we would be in much better shape. We are headed at full speed into the future looking through the rear view mirror.”

      If this is a goal, then perhaps the blog posts need to be geared more towards that. A surprising amount of PrayTell content is geared towards criticising the EF and “reform of the reform.” Many of the top-commenters have a difficult time discussing liturgical issues without taking a pot-shot at the EF almost right away – regardless of the issue. That naturally attracts people willing to defend the EF from often hyperbolic and unsupported criticism.

      I’m not surprised at the lack of Orthodox/Eastern Rite contributors. I know you would disagree, but I think those rites are far more similar to the EF than to the OF. Were I an Orthodox or Easterner I wouldn’t have much interest in a blog that is critical of a Latin Rite liturgy that shares so much in common with the Eastern Rites. A good chunk of EF-attendees I know attended the Eastern Rites for years during the indult days.

  21. Michaelene Devine Avatar

    While I love the liturgy and I play the organ, I don’t consider myself either a liturgist or an organist. I was pleased to discover the Pray/Tell Blog and have learned a lot from all the dialogue. On occasion, I’ve even contributed!

    I’m grateful to all the folks who have contributed; liturgy and music are special in my life and a great source of nourishment. I look forward to what many of the contributors offer; I grieve at the sorrows — I’m still in shock over the death of Fr Cody Unterseher and consider I’ve lost a friend (though I only knew him through this blog) — and I look forward to continuing my on-going formation. I really appreciate Michael Joncas’ new hymns for Lent and Advent and am interested in the comments shared (and welcomed by him) which add to the richness of his words.

    One thing that prevents me from contributing more, is the contentious nature of some of the dialogue. Liturgy is definitely something that can raise temperatures! but I find some of the comments disconcerting.

    That said, I pray for a long and happy life for this blog — thank you!

  22. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    I am appreciative of all the comments, and I thank those who have contributed to this thread.

    I’d like to note that 13 out of 33 comments in this thread have been made by women. And I’d like to ask if that seemed to make a difference to our readers.

    FWIW, I can say for myself that I felt it did make a difference to my own level of interest and satisfaction in reading through the thread.

    There was substance, intelligence, and candor in all the comments. Several shared their experience and perspectives, some creative problem solving was tried out. There was some conflict of perspectives and opinions in evidence, but it remained at a low pitch.

    Which brings me to another observation. Some commenters in this thread noted that when they feel a high conflict-level is occurring in a thread, it discourages them from commenting. I understand this not just as conflict avoidance, but as a clue to the differing motivations people have for joining in. This seems to me important and worth exploring.

    To back up a moment: Mainstream news thrives on conflict. People read stories more avidly when they involve conflict, or at least that was what we learned in media studies when I was in school. Journalists continue to write their reports pretty much in the same way today. Conflict “sells” — and, on blogs, conflict raises people’s ire and gets blood circulating, passions aroused, etc. The number of comments climbs as people argue and fight, and threads with lots of comments look like they have a lot of interest, right?

    But several commenters in this thread have expressed a different motivation for tuning in to the blog — one that does not thrive on conflict. They see themselves as learners, as apprentices, as doers who are hoping to become better at what they do as a result of reading Pray Tell and being exposed to those who may have knowledge or skills worth emulating, or experiences and considered opinions worth sharing. Conflict-driven discussions, far from being exciting and attractive, are a mixed…

  23. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    Continued from comment #33

    … bag. They don’t always attract, and may indeed suppress engagement. Certainly, repeating old conflicts, with the same people taking the same positions, becomes stale.

    So, as we go on, I do hope we can be attentive to the many possible means of broadening our pool of commenters, and engaging people on a variety of subjects, and in a variety of ways.

  24. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Per your comment – “…..They don’t always attract, and may indeed suppress engagement. Certainly, repeating old conflicts, with the same people taking the same positions, becomes stale.”

    Apologize for *repeating* patterns, comments, etc. And apologize to those who I have offended by commenting too often; not listening to the attitudes/tones/feelings of those who want to learn; and engaging in *point scoring*.

    As one suggested – may be time to take a month long break.

  25. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    # 32 Jack Wayne A surprising amount of PrayTell content is geared towards criticizing the EF and “reform of the reform.

    #33 Rita Mainstream news thrives on conflict.

    Contributors of this blog have given us well crafted discussions of controversial issues. So I, too, have wondered why the many news items on the EF which are great fodder for food fights among competition prone males. Balanced coverage? Fillers? Entertainment? Do they drive up our blog hits???

    I once monitored the commenting patterns of this blog for months on a spreadsheet with posts as rows, and commenters as columns. Fascinating

    Sociologically large groups (the readers) always generate a small group (the commenters) who perform for them. The large commenters group has generated a smalled group (the top 20) who perform for the commenters.

    Once I understood I could have a seat in the top 20 by commenting once a day, I abandoned my data collection. I want to influence readers but not become involved in management.

    Talented voluntary leaders need great space from managers in parishes and other institutions to develop their own ministries without much control (management) other than the general influence the managers exert by modeling. In return, talented voluntary leaders need to keep away from making life difficult for management by second guessing them.

    I am thankful for this ONE post to say what I would do if I were management, namely recruit several more women contributors, have them comment at least once a day, and encourage 10 more women commenters to comment once a day.

    Most human behavior is determined by the situation not by people’s personalities. In my role as manager I almost always altered the situation rather than hassling people about their behavior.

    More women contributors and commenters would change the situation for male commenters. Both men and women have much experience in altering their behavior when going from primarily single sex to mix sex company.

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