Conversation index

An interesting perspective on metrics from Stowe Boyd.

While working at Corante I had the opportunity to peer at the stats for all sorts of blogs that we had going. And one thing that became really obvious is that sucessful blogs — ones that were currently viable and vibrant and those that were on a growth trajectory from their start — shared a common characteristic: The ratio between posts and comments+trackbacks (posts/comments+trackbacks) was less than one. Meaning that there was more conversation — as indicated by the number of comments and track backs offered by readers — than posting articles. I will call this the Converation Index just to put a handle on it

A low index suggests more conversations, a high index suggests more ranting, less discussion.

It’s a fun metric, and I’m sure Stowe intends it to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Stowe reckons his conversation index is 80 posts divided by 102 (comments and trackbacks) = 0.784.

FWIW, mine is 1198 posts divided by 1706 comments and 472 trackbacks – 1198/2178 = 0.55. Not too bad.

(For the pedants, I actually have some static pages on this site which are not blog entries and they’re excluded from this calculation).

6 thoughts on “Conversation index

  1. Jeff Risley

    I like it — “conversation index” has a ring to it, and it’s a tidy little metric a CEO who is blogging could get his mind around.

    Mine is .95 (146 posts/139 comments + 14 trackbacks). I’m no Johnny Moore, but at least I’m less than one (the number, not Johnny Moore). 🙂 And BTW, I just lowered your index. You’re welcome.

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks Jeff. Of course, I now realise that by replying to your comment I am improving the index further… thus exposing a possible cause for not taking this metric too seriously.

  3. Jack Yan

    I know Stowe had his tongue in his cheek, but it’s worth remembering that this is highly dependent on traffic. Stowe’s not exactly in want of visitors to his new blog: he had a healthy audience from day one. For someone with few connections starting a blog today with no connections, there is little guarantee that that blog will be found, but persistence might be the reason for its eventual success.

       The lesson, I imagine, is that a successful blog needs a plan or a lot of passion in order for it to become viable, or that a blogger needs to do what Stowe did: be part of another blog before branching out.

       After two weeks, I’m ranting on 1·47!

  4. pc4media

    What’s Your Post to Comment/Trackback Ratio?

    Awhile ago, (Before Stowe started begging for links to his new blog. Click that. It’s too funny.) I posted about my blog to comment ratio. It was 0.9. Now, it is: Posts: 1694 | Comments: 2245 | TrackBacks: 339 1694/2245

  5. Jake

    I love discussions like this – metrics, especially for new tasks are so nebulous.

    I was actually coming in to say also that traffic is a factor as well. Defining interaction is highly dependent on audience size. A speaker who speaks to one or two creates a conversation. A speaker who speaks to 1000 is lecturing/keynoting. One has a different impact and effect than another.

    And do comments weigh less heavily than trackbacks? If you assume conversation is stronger the broader it is, the the effect of a trackback may be say, twice as much as a comment. Unless of course the site is Techcrunch – then perhaps the effectiviness of conversation increases in comments over trackbacks.

    All good stuff! 🙂


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