What happened to the comments?

I’ve received quite a bit of “hate mail” over the past week because of the new format. 

It seems that the majority of readers (not commenters) prefer the old-style of commenting.  The two most common complaints received were: the forum format is confusing and leaving a comment simply takes too long.  While readership has continued to grow throughout the transition, user comments have taken a dramatic tumble.  I feel the drop in comments is negatively impacting the sense of community here.  I had hoped that the forums would allow for that community to develop on it’s own, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  We’ve gone from hundreds of comments a day to, at best, tens.

With that, I’m considering pulling the plug on using the forums for comments.  The forums will remain active for off-topic or non-blog discussions, however, they will not be the primary method for blog comments.

I’m going to leave this up to the readers/commenters, and here is how we are going to decide:

1) Find the link at the top of this topic that says “[#] Comments”, click it.
2) Follow the directions and leave a comment.

I would like everyone to comment, even if you like the old format better.  I really need to know whether or not the new forums are a barrier or not.  If we get a good sense of community developing in the comments, I’d prefer to pull the plug on using the forums for comments.  I’m not very happy about seeing the number of comments fall and the sense of community decline because of this switch-over.

Caveat Emptor!

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

86 Responses to What happened to the comments?

  1. James Bednar says:

    Ok, let’s have those comments. Everybody that doesn’t like the new format, let’s hear from you.


  2. James Bednar says:

    There is no login required with the new format, however your email address is required.


  3. Rich In NNJ says:

    I have no problems with the forum.

    “Everybody that doesn’t like the new format, let’s hear from you.”

    Oops, I guess I wasn’t supposed to comment!

    Whatever you decide to do, I’ll be there. Even if I have to scroll past a lot of noise. I mostly read those that have given themselves a sign-on name anyway.


  4. twice shy says:

    I’m still getting used to the new format.
    It has potential–I just haven’t figured
    my way around yet.

    Problems I’ve encountered:
    # of comments were not registering.
    when I found my way to a forum,
    comments often read “closed”–even
    when there weren’t any.

    To get a lively discussion going, we
    need people to read and post. I was
    just getting into it as a newbie, when
    the format changed.

    Let’s try this and see what works.
    thanks grim for all your hard work!

  5. BergenBuyer says:

    I’ve adjusted to the new format, but I still prefer the old way.

    If only 1% of us are adjusting and commenting, then I think it would be best to go back to the Comments method.

    Thanks for your continued hard work.

  6. James Bednar says:

    Oops, I guess I wasn’t supposed to comment!

    No, I wanted everyone to comment, regardless of whether you like the old or new format.

  7. KAA says:

    Believe it or not, I think it’s easier to read the comments the new way, although I did like knowing how many people had already commented before I started reading (the old way). But whatever, grim. Do what’s easiest for you, since you’re doing the most work here.

  8. InfoDiva says:

    Glad you’re listening, Grim.

    2000 unique visitors to the site daily is a nice statistic…but it’s the comments, especially the provocative ones, that keep the blog alive and well.

  9. James Bednar says:

    It’s nice to see the comments popping back in so quickly, especially during what is typically a low-traffic point in the day.


  10. RentininNJ says:


    First off, I want to thank you for your efforts with this blog. You have gone a long way to tell the other side of the story; the side of the story that you don’t hear in the mainstream press, which often simply parrots NAR press releases without any critical analysis. While they may have finally caught on, perhaps a day late and a dollar short, you were telling the story a year ago when being a bubble believer simply wasn’t fashionable. If you stopped one young couple from financial disaster as a result your blog, you really have done good work.

    I would say, however, that I liked the old format. While not perfect, it did provide for a robust discussion on the topics with many commenters weighing in. I think something has to be said for the simplicity it offered. Maybe going to a format closer to “Ben’s Blog” would work. It keeps the simplicity, but allows nesting of comments so that you don’t just have a list of 100 responses that are all over the place. It also requires a minimum sign in, so you don’t have an overwhelming number of anonymous comments.

    I will stick around either way, but I do miss the lively discussions.

    Thanks for the good work.

  11. James Bednar says:

    Allowing nested comments is certainly a possibility. It’s easily implemented.


  12. Sal says:


    I think the old format was much more user friendly and the severe dropoff in comments seems to substantiate it…

  13. Jay says:

    I vote for the old way. It was quick & easy, and I liked the comment counter.

  14. Jim says:

    Grim you are doing a great job, and I realize you also so the effect on your blog.
    I vote to go back to the old Blog.

  15. James Bednar says:

    I guess the question now is…

    Is this format as easy as the old nnjbubble.blogspot.com format?


  16. D says:

    I liked the blog. Quick, easy & I especially liked that I could skim through threads I’d already started to read & could pick up & read the remainder easily. I preferred not having nested comments.

    Grim, thank you so much for all of your hard work! I’m sure people would adjust to the newness of the forum. Change is just difficult!

  17. gmb says:

    The old format was much more user friendly—I vote that we resume the old system!

  18. 007 says:

    I think the old format is better. As we can hear more opinions.


  19. James Bednar says:

    I vote to go back to the old Blog.

    We can’t go back to the old website, that just isn’t an option.

    The way we handle comments, however, is still up for discussion. Personally, I don’t feel there is any real difference between Blogger and WordPress comments. If anything, this format is easier since you don’t have to go through Blogger-Registration-Hell.

  20. James Bednar says:

    Maybe this was just a matter of too-much-too-fast?

    Step 1. Change the software
    Step 2. Change the address
    Step 3. Introduce new comments format
    Step 4. Thoroughly confuse everyone

  21. Michelle says:

    I agree with KAA above in that it was interesting to me to see the number of comments on a particular subject on the main page.

    While the forums are nicely organized, I do think it’s more expedient to just click on the comments link.

  22. James Bednar says:

    Not having the number of comments posted on the main page was one of the biggest problems with the new approach. It was impossible to know where new comments were posted without having to spend time navigating through the forums to see what had changed.


  23. twice shy says:

    so far, this seems to be working more like
    the old format and is therefore preferable.

    it is easier to comment, the total shows
    on the main page and you can scroll down
    to where you want to pick up the latest.

    this site and community is an important
    link to me, as I’ve been a lonely NJ real
    estate bear for several years now and
    am just coming out of hibernation.

  24. NOVA Fence Sitter says:

    I typically just lurk here…but I do like the new site. I think its very professional and well done.

    NOVA Fence Sitter

  25. Benjamin Gigot says:

    I enjoyed the site as much as always, but I think the transition posed two problems: the URL change was somewhat cumbersome and the new format does not maximize the amount of information presented to the user when he logs in as the old used to. Instead it focuses on forum structures for it right part.

    I think you want to think of your first screen as the share of your loyal’s reader mind you effectively own. Focus on describing three or four new streams of thought on the topic, ideally some in graphical format, and get them engaged in it. You can then ask questions below to stimulate debate

  26. Mary says:

    The two formats are each fine in their way; the new one is more flexible and it just takes some getting used to; I do have some font problems with one computer (my computer at home) with the new website but haven’t been able to solve this one.

  27. James Bednar says:

    Glad to see that everyone is still around.

  28. cliffy says:


    Thanks for listening. I like the blog format better.

  29. chicagofinance says:


    I believe in sending you hate mail in any circumstance. Why would you attach the change in format to the beligerence.

    I think you are just rationalizing.

  30. REINVESTOR101 says:


    I’ve gotten confused here. At one point, I was prompted to enter as password (I set up one originally and can’t remember it)and assumed I was going to have to re-establish my account and login. Now it seems that I can comment without a password (I’ll know shortly if this goes through without the password prompt).

  31. REINVESTOR101 says:

    Ok…this worked without the password prompt. I think I can deal with it now.

  32. d2b says:

    I like to see the comments on the front page. Shows me what topics are hot.

  33. James Bednar says:

    This system does allow users to register for an account, but I turned off that feature. I thought it would be too confusing to allow users to register for both the blog and the forum.

    In the future, we can look to turn that feature back on to eliminate the constant need to enter in your Name and Email address when posting a comment.


  34. jude says:

    I love this blog, but so far I have been just a reader, so I don’t really know the problems of the forum. I like the new look of this format, but if it’s at the cost of commenters, maybe a change is needed.

  35. James Bednar says:

    Ok, the deluge of hate mail seems to have stopped, well, all except those from Chicago.

    Keep the comments coming.


  36. Richie says:


    now i don’t have to sent hate mail!!!


  37. Richie says:

    Forums are OK for people who have time. I used to love forums for the social aspect, but after getting married, buying a house, working full time, having a baby, paying taxes, I have little time for forums.

    Blogs with direct comment links are much more appealing.

    Plus, I can’t stand looking at all those corny smilies. Online socializing was fine with the basic :) and :( smilies. Then you get all these new retarded smiles like ~;^) from people who have too much damn time on their hands. Keep it simple, stupid.


  38. James Bednar says:

    Forum, what forum? Whose idea was the that anyway?


  39. Rich In NNJ says:

    “Whose idea was the that anyway?”

    I think it was that ChicagoHighPants guy, or something like that.
    But I’m glad you going back to using this style format over the forum.


  40. Steve says:

    Hi Grim,

    I’m a bit late to the bandwagon, but nevertheless, I too am much relieved at returning to the Comments format- just makes it so much easier to quickly scan/read etc.

    Thanks for the great site and being so attuned to the feedback from your loyal readers!!!


  41. gb says:

    My vote is for the comments rather than the forum – I hated that a new window opened up and you couldn’t simply hit the ‘back’ arrow to get to the main page. The number of comments is a plus too, so you don’t need to open the thread if there is nothing to see.

    Otherwise, still like the info provided. Thanks for all the hard work Grim!

  42. BC Bob says:


    I really like the new format. It took a bit of navigating but I think the new page,forum, enables all topics to remain current. However, it seems like most want to be able to comment on the main page. Maybe a compromise is to allow comments on the main page under each topic and leave the forum for off topic posts.

  43. Common Cent$ says:

    Out with the new in with the old.

  44. doctork says:


    I vote for the new format. As a few others have said, it took some time, but I now have the hang of it and like the overall look and features A LOT better. It probably was a case of too much, too quick, but I think folks will catch on. Thanks for all you do!


  45. Deb says:

    I really liked the old format much better. It may be that I was just used to it but, I haven’t enjoyed this blog as much as I used to.


  46. SAS says:

    Too many pop ups. I leave a few comments, next time thing I know, damn puter is full of pop ups.

    Another point, I don’t think people like the “required” email address part. You lose your anomity. I think what start things rolling the the anons trickling in and freely putting in their input.


  47. Says says:

    We are creatures of habit. I like the old way too. I post either way though.

  48. CTMa says:

    I read this blog many times per day. The new forum just had too much “noises” (boxes, borders, icons, etc).

    The old format of a single page with article and comments is so much cleaner and easy to read. Especially moving to this new site, the color and a number attached to each comment improves upon the old site.

    I vote for the old format with improvements that come with the new site. Thanks.


  49. SAS says:

    “I read this blog many times per day. The new forum just had too much “noises” (boxes, borders, icons, etc).

    The old format of a single page with article and comments is so much cleaner and easy to read. Especially moving to this new site, the color and a number attached to each comment improves upon the old site.”

    Yes, those are good points too. I second this blogger.


  50. UnRealtor says:

    Hard to describe why, but the old format seemed to work better. Also, some may be reluctant to log in while at work.

    I think it’s a shame you’ve probably spent hours creating the new site, and it doesn’t seem to be paying off. :(

    But it seems you’ve moved to TWO new sites:

    1) This comment type page (which is very similar to the old format, but easier to read).

    2) The “forum” site, with a link to “discuss in the forum.”

    che first new site approach well (if this somment shows up, as previously comments did not), but the forums are less “blog-like” and are probably what’s so jarring.

  51. UnRealtor says:

    Yes, that post worked. I’d say this new format works well, and shows the “# of comments” in each thread.

    The forum is useful to have around, but this format works well, like an enhanced “blogger” format.

  52. UnRealtor says:

    This format is also nice in that each post is numbered, so you can refer to “Joe in #50” for example.

  53. zack says:

    The number of comments posted for a particular topic is what i liked in the old forum. TIS WAY I know whats the most lively topic.

  54. Arr Elle says:


    I am trying to get used to the new forum. I am on the fence.

    Arr Elle

  55. Jaywalk says:

    I’m for the comments counter. I had to laugh out loud at “out with the new, in with the old”. Sorry, Grim.

  56. danno says:

    Too confusing for casual browser and occassional commenter. This running comment format is easiest

  57. skep-tic says:

    I like the comments better than the forum. Grim, the site looks great, but let’s make commenting as simple as possible. Thanks for all of your hard work!

  58. James Bednar says:

    Comments in, forum out.


  59. UnRealtor says:

    firefox test post

  60. njresident286 says:

    I was more of a fan of the old style of commenting in the sense that you could see the number of comments already posted, and it was directly next to the story.

    I like this version better due to the nesting, ability to quote a previous post, and easier reading formatt.

    I think the best of both worlds is found on a website like http://slashdot.org/ where there is a summary, a link to comment that shows the number of comments already, and as a user you can decide if you want the comments nested, flat or whatever.

    Either way, i and many other will adapt to whatever you choose.

  61. RoadTripBoy says:

    Hi Grim,

    The new site looks great. It must have been a monumental task getting all of this stuff transferred over and having learned a little bit of HTML over the past couple of years, all hats I own, off to you! :-)

    I have to admit that I preferred the way the old site worked. I never had any difficulties with logging on except for the time that the word verification step went haywire and I think no one could post—but that was fixed quickly. FYI, I’m running a titanium Powerbook (Mac system) with Firefox.

    Here are my critiques of the new site:

    I liked having all the postings for the month on a single page, as you did on the old site. In order to view older postings on the new site, I have to wait until the page loads, scroll to the bottom, and click next page, repeat until I find the postings I want. Does anyone else find this cumbersome? If nothing else, is it possible to post the next page/previous page buttons at the top and bottom of the page?
    The difference between comments and discussing a post in the forums is still not quite clear to me. I thought the forums were for off topic discussions. There were several instances while viewing posts from a week or so ago that clicking on “discuss this issue in the forums” for several different posts seemed to take me to the same set of comments.

    Just my two cents.

  62. RoadTripBoy says:

    Grim, One other thing, the old site allowed you to delete your own comment once posted, in case you wanted to edit or correct spelling or (gasp!) take something back! This site doesn’t appear to do that. I just tried to delete my post because I realized i didn’t close my two HTML codes and the formatting I was after didn’t take (going for the ordered list!)—not a big issue for this, the info is there. But it would be nice to delete your own comment going forward.

  63. rhymingrealtor says:

    I vote for the old format with improvements that come with the new site. Thanks.

    I second that – love the numbered posts. Like to see how many comments for the post.


    PS: I gave you a thank you thank you when I first saw the new/old format. Didnt realize you had a whole post on the subject.

  64. Seneca says:

    What I like about the new format is that I can see which threads I need to read because when I log in, it shows which threads are new since my last login. When you use just the comments, yes, i can see how many comments there are and which thread are the most active, but I have to scroll down and try to remember what was the last comment I read.

    Also, discussions seem to carry from post to post because we stop scrolling down to posts from a few days ago. I really think discussion threads get lost this way.

    Old style had a lot of anon posts that were not especially useful.

    I will follow the site no matter what you use but there was some solid functionality that came with the “grown up” thread style format.

  65. J says:

    Like the old school method! Thanks for your efforts.

  66. Mr. Oliver says:

    Grim, going back to the old way is fine with me.

    My only comment regarding the new site is that there is no easy way to email directly from the site. I forwarded many articles from the NNJ Bubble Blog. This site just isn’t that friendly.

    Thanks for all your hard work.

  67. Pat says:

    Holy Hate Mail {THWWAAP!}. I didn’t know we could do hate mail! Was that in the directions somewhere?

    What was the question again?


  68. suziehomemaker says:

    Ihave really enjoyed reading this blog for the last few months,have to say i enjoyed the old way better.

  69. thatbigwindow says:

    I guess my commenting days are over :(

  70. Jase Rion says:

    hi grim

    i’d like to add my vote to this commenting format over the forum. additionally, i’d to suggest that you add another link to comment at the end of each article because at the moment after reading the article one has to scroll back up to add comment.


  71. Jamey says:

    I had no problem with the fora, but I think a “comments” link has greater immediacy–no change in message format to overcome when leaving a message. Also, one can more easily gauge the level of activity–the ‘comments’ linq notes the number of participants.

    Unless it becomes terribly problematic, I say you should revert to a “comments” format for reader interaction.

  72. Ivan says:

    Your new format is super. Thank you for keeping us up to date!

  73. dreamtheaterr says:

    My first post since the ‘new’ look was changed to reflect what the old navigation was now that it’s easier on the eye…..

    A big drawback of the new look was that the #comments was zero. People will think that nobody posts. More posts, more people read.

    Keep up the good work Grim – much appreciated!!

  74. Karen says:

    I don’t read the site much b/c it is not so familiar anymore. It’s unclear as to what’s new and what’s not.

    I liked the links on the right side of the old site, and used them all the time.. where did they go?

  75. Pingback: Anonymous

  76. Pingback: Anonymous

  77. Pingback: Anonymous

  78. Pingback: Anonymous

Comments are closed.