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When to Post a Diary

First what most people probably want to know: when’s the best time to post a diary?  Simple answer: evening.  The typical diary in the evening last week had around twice as many comments and 50% more recommends as one posted mid-day (data for just one day indicate about 50% more views as well).

The bars show how many diaries were published each hour, averaged over the five days; see the left axis.  The blue circles show median number of comments in the diaries published at each time; see the right axis.

During the workweek last week, 1312 diaries were posted.  From mid-morning to late afternoon Eastern time, about 15-20 diaries were posted per hour.  During this time, the median comment number was 13 and the median number of recommends was 12.  The chances of a diary making the recommended list during this time were about half as much as other times.  However, this also was the time when diaries with the most number of comments and recommends were published.    

The distribution of comments by hour (except for 3 AM - 6 AM Eastern time, which are all lumped together) can be seen below.  

How to read this ‘bar and whisker’ graph:  the horizontal line in the middle of each bar shows the median number of comments at each hour.  The top and bottom of each bar are the 75th and 25th percentiles; the top and bottom of each ‘whisker’ show 90th and 10th percentiles.  Outliers beyond this are plotted individually.

One Day in the Life of DKos4

Here’s a snapshot of where people were viewing, commenting, and recommending last Tuesday:

Nearly half of commenting and viewing activity was in diaries that were neither rescued nor on the rec list.  In general, front page entries claimed about 15-20% of activity, rescued diaries had about 8-12%, and rec list diaries had about 30-45% of the action.

Unlimited Diaries

So did the diary list get flooded with crap?  Well, it did get flooded, relative to the preceding weeks, but not with crap.  I noticed a lot of people writing who hadn’t written in months, or years.  (I noticed a lot of people poking around and reading old, sometimes very old, diaries too.)  On 2/22, 201 diarists wrote one diary, 17 wrote two, three wrote three, and one user wrote five diaries.  Judging by how well the repeat diarists were received, I’d say unlimited diaries is a success.

The Increasing Irrelevance of the Front Page

Kos said about the new site:

In other words, this new site isn't a play to boost the front page -- it'll actively undermine it. And yes, I'm perfectly happy with that.

So I took a look at two pre-transition days to compare to 2/22.  One of them, 1/12, had a high volume of diaries (222), similar to 2/22, reacting to Obama’s Tucson shooting speech.  The other, 1/19, did not (136).

Comparing these three days, it appears that commenting activity in ordinary diaries increased by about a third at the expense of comments in front page entries.  In other words, Kos’ evil plot was a success – at least based on these three days.  

The Success of the Rescue Rangers

The most stunning change is the result of the Community Spotlight feature.  New diarists always ask how one makes it to the rec list; now we have a very good answer: get rescued.  On 2/22 half of Rescued diaries made it to the rec list, better than their recent average.  Here’s how Rescued diaries stack up against others in comments, recommends, and views (remember, Rescued diaries start off with below average numbers compared to other diaries):

Note that because there are only eight data points in each category, all data are shown as well as bars for Rescued and Rescued to Rec List.  Interestingly, while Rescued to Rec List diaries tend to have fewer comments than a typical Rec List diary, they have just as many recommends.  Also, Rec List diaries get more views than Front Page entries (of course, you can read an entire Front Page entry without clicking on it).

To get a better feel for the attention a Resuced diary gets, here’s three examples of the numbers before and after rescuing:

    Comments    Recs    Views
Before    1         1         12
After    28         38        199

    Comments    Recs    Views
Before    6         6         62
After    63         43        268

    Comments    Recs    Views
Before    6        12         43
After    35         76        316

Before the transition, my experience was that a rescued diary would double its comments and recommends.  Now, we’re talking more like five times the exposure, and more.

That’s enough for today, I think; the dKos info was just too shiny an object to ignore.  But by all measures, it appears that the new version of the site is getting more attention to more and better writers, and generally behaving as designed.

Originally posted to Daniel Donner on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 02:55 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town and KosBusters!.

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