The economy of online comments

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


As comment functions have proliferated, the role of commenting has played an important role in the attention economy. First, Gallagher situates this chapter in contemporary scholarship about the attention economy and online public to argue that online platforms are imbricated in a capitalist understanding of the information economy. These platforms generally contain comment functions, which can range from mildly amusing spaces to vitriolic cesspools of racism, misogyny, and homophobia. Second, Gallagher argues that comment functions and comments have an economic role easily seen at scale. Here, this chapter draws on Gallagher’s analysis of 450,000 comments from The New York Times and uses new several data visualizations to demonstrate that comments, at scale, would drive up a website’s metrics and, thus, advertising revenue. Third, Gallagher argues why professional writers should pay close attention to the profitability of comments. This chapter shows how content creators are asked to take on the laborious role of monitoring and managing comments, commenters, and other participatory audiences. This chapter concludes that online comments have created a range of laborious tasks with which writers must now contend.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHumans at Work in the Digital Age
Subtitle of host publicationForms of Digital Textual Labor
EditorsShawna Ross, Andrew Pilsch
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780429521324
ISBN (Print)9780367199982
StatePublished - Dec 2019

Publication series

NameDigital Research in the Arts and Humanities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences

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