Hearne: Let’s Hear It for the Angry Birds in the Comments Section

3d people - puppets protesting with posters on demonstrationLet’s hear it for the unsung heroes of the comments section…

In the five or so years KC Confidential’s been around we’ve come full circle with the comments crowd; early on they were celebrated.

“I enjoy the comments more than the articles,” said some.


For some writers – Greg Hall and The Scribe to name two – KCC’s comments section almost seemed to represent the measure of their worth. After all, more comments meant more readers, right?

Not necessarily.

Sports is a comment magnet just as Craig Glazer is a hater magnet

When Hall struck out on his own two years ago, he challenged readers in his comments section to hasten the process of getting his new site up to 10,000 unique visitors a day (to overtake KCC at the time).  Given that two-plus years later the site is more than 2 million places behind KCC that’s unlikely to have gone down.

But hey, Hall’s having fun and still getting 20 or 30 comments per post or greater.

Mr. T

Mr. T

Remember that guy Tony who traffics in cheesecake photos, links to other media’s stories and unconfirmed rumors?

A glimpse at the first 10 items on his site tonight reveals comment counts of 7, 12, 8, 2, 6, 33, 8, 2, 1 and 1. Not exactly a tidal wave but given that the preponderance of his stories belong to other media and the comments are either anonymous, inane or both, it’s not exactly a huge surprise.

One nice thing about KCC commenters is that despite most being anonymous, they’ve carved out their niches by using memorable names and offering up often thoughtful observations. Not always mind you, but often.

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 8.51.37 PMThe Kansas City Star approach on the other hand is a head scratcher.

When the spirit moves, the Star’s huge readership can deliver comments by the bushel basket. Too many to read or care about, frankly.

Hundreds and hundreds of comments is generally too much of a good thing.

I mean, who among us really wants to know who what ever single person on earth thinks about you-name-it? So the newspaper’s come up with a way to tone things down and that’s Facebook.

Check it:

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what’s in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook’s commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here

By requiring Facebook, the newspaper forces commenters to use real (or Facebook anyway) identities. And while that’s arguably a plus, not everybody wants to be an Edward Snowden, thus the policy discourages whistleblowers. And that’s a bad thing.

The newspaper further discourages free speech and debate by – not just screening – but turning off its comments on prickly subjects like today’s Lisa Gutierrez story about a transgender high school student becoming homecoming queen.

Knowing full well that the story would be an affront to many midwestern conservatives the Star made a conscious decision to play the story up big on its web site – in yo face, homophobes – while at the same time instituting a gag order.


transgender-hc-queenThen again, why Lisa Gutierrez byline is on a two-day old story about a teen from Huntington Beach, California is a mystery to me. I mean, the Huffington Post, New York Daily News and everybody under the sun had already reported the story nationally.

Gutierrez didn’t even bother to put in a call to the teen, her school or even dig up a local schmokel expert from here to weigh in. Instead, she merely lifted a few quotes from other media’s reporting (without naming or crediting them btw) then slapped it up on the Star’s website today at 4 p.m. as if somehow it was her story.

Very weird.

images-1Getting back to the comments conundrum, entertainment blogger Bob Lefsetz had an interesting take recently:


“No one reads the comments,” he contends. “Not on YouTube, not on the Huffington Post. Comments allow the commenter to feel good about himself, seeing his name on screen, but the end effect is essentially meaningless. As for the quantity of comments…ask yourself, have you ever commented? Only those without power and too much time on their hands comment online.”

Back to you, smartman, uh, smartman?

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36 Responses to Hearne: Let’s Hear It for the Angry Birds in the Comments Section

  1. harley says:

    As far as this lefsetz dude…lets just say he’s about 10 years
    late with his predictions on the music industry. Never heard
    of him although I was involved with projects in the music
    industry and I really doubt that he’s all he cracks himself
    up to be.

    As far as commentators…yeah we are all just looking for
    a place to express our opinions..but I’ve written comments
    on daily kos/huffington post that got ahuge number of
    comments in response.
    For him to say that no one reads the responses on
    huffington post or red state is pure b.s. I can tell you
    that tons of money are spent on those comments!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Irishguy says:

    One comparison you didn’t make between you and TKC.

    Tony seldom has a story on his front page longer than 24 hours. This site? Just scroll down. There are stories still here from nine days ago.

    • admin says:

      Fair enuff, but we’re offering up original content not rehashes and links to everybody else in town’s news stories and I’ve set up the site to make the pages extra long so the stories will stay up front longer.

      Would you prefer that I spend six or eight hours a day assembling a compendium of other people’s work and shorten the page length?

      • Or you could hire more writers….

        • Orphan of the Road says:

          I can only speak for myself on this. No pay, only one article. But it wasn’t for the money most on here wrote.

          We pretty much write for the same reason a chicken lays eggs.

          Now Wilson probably earns a seven or eight digit paycheck from the site. Maybe one or to to the left of the decimal point.

          • paulwilsonkc says:

            Orphan, when I told you that it was off the record and in complete confidence. Thanks. See if I tell you anything else again, ever.

        • Hearne says:

          True, still at moms.

          Or work a bit harder myself too, right?

  3. balbonis moleskine says:

    I enjoy the comments section here. You seem to have struck a balance between the kc stars hilarious policy of closing comments on liberal feelgood stories and tkc’s sea of dootie and n words.

    I like the sports bets articles, if only to show everyone that vegas was not built on winning. Man my nfl picks have been weak.

  4. admin says:

    BTW, if you guys didn’t notice, I was complimenting you

    • the dude says:

      Thank you. Without the commenters this site would just be a few lonely jardines articles, articles about Hearne complaining about outlaw motocycle clubs making it harder for him to park in the plaza and hoodlums wilding in tha plaza.

      My hat is tipped to the MC and commenters that don’t louse it up too much, harlinator when he is on his meds and occasionally Glazer when he is not too Glazed.

  5. chuck says:


    balbonis, I killed it in football this week.


    This dog is having it’s day.


  6. Hot Carl says:

    When can we get back to needling Glazer?

  7. Orphan of the Road says:

    Paul, you don’t realize the strain it takes maintaining a cardboard box over a steam vent AND a cave on the bluffs by the Paseo Bridge. And I was hoping to point the IRS at you by saying two decimal points rather than one.

    I just hope the harlinator’s Northeast friends don’t pile on me. He truly is a legend in his own mind along the Avenue. He truly does know everyone in Northeast except for the flesh-and-blood ones.

    • harley says:

      glad the yellow bellied loser who thinks he knows all the northeast
      gang is back.
      You’re already a loser…backing down on our bet.
      You said you had the cash but I doubt it. You said you were a teacher
      and knowing some outstanding teachers I know you can’t afford
      10K at any time.
      Wedo know many many of the Italians from the northeast end…
      and have been to many baptisms/weddings/and unfortunately
      funerals at passantino brothers.
      We love them all. My parents were very close to many of them
      and we still see many of the good ones in fact my business partners
      are Italian ffrom the old neighborhoods.
      So orphan of the load of bull….come on out and put up the moneyt.
      You’re just like Wilson…all talk ….no walk…
      lets get your money together and lets see who’s for real.
      You’re a phony pos without anything to back up what yu say.
      I had actually forgotten that you chicken sh*tted out of our bet
      after you confirmed you had the money.
      NObig deal orphan…anytime you can scrape a few bucks together
      on your minimum wage work contact me. Would love to prove
      you and the little short baldy wrong AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.
      til then…move on down the road loser!!!!!

      • chuck says:

        I resemble that “short baldy” remark and appreciate that “fat” was left out this time.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        I gave you the meeting place, any one with a history in Northeast knows it. Stephen St John and his father know it. The folks at Caddyshack know it. Along with the folks at Anthony’s.

        You are a fraud and a coward. It is you who renege on every proposition put forward to you.

        So dig your holes deeper. Keep walking backwards like a crab trying to find the ocean.

        Oldest continuously owned bar in Northeast, since 1952. Or ask at the Sons of Italy, Frankie Pie and Gino will tell you where it is you pompous load of bovine scat.

        • harley says:

          orphan…know them all very well…contact me
          at law4life1000@yahoo.com to get this set up.
          we can meet at any Italian owned restaurant
          you want….ANTHONYS IS FINE…
          but the money has to be put in escrow…you detail
          what information you need for the bet…and we’ll
          see who’s blowing crap on who.
          letsget this going asap….I still think you haven’t
          got a pot to piss in loser!!!!!!!! (reference to
          Wilson’s article on wipes!!!!)…just another kcc
          crew loser (that’s you!)
          contact me asap…..I want to prove Harley is
          for real…a winner..not some low life scum like
          as far as a bar…don’t t go to them much….but
          knowall theitalians in town in the bar and restaurant
          now orphan…don’t go back under your rock…contact
          me asap.

          • Orphan of the Road says:

            The King of Renege has spoken.

            You made the statement and the amount, I set the terms. Either put up or shut up.

            Or just keep blathering and ignoring the many, many times you have backed out of a deal.

            I’ve named the place to meet, if you had a clue about Northeast it would be obvious but that is another of your delusions.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Impressive; no idea you had a second home/vacation spot up on the bluff!

  8. CG says:

    Solid story Hearne. However on Tony’s sight he does have one writer who averages over 100 comments on stories…me. Even here, I have the highest average when its a story I am the key speaker in so far as your interviewing me…and that’s cool…yes the haters lead the way in comments, but what the hell, they count. Hah.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Hey, I run a good, close second, but you do drag ‘um in!

    • KCMonarch says:

      Truth be told Glazer, you are the biggest “hater” in the comments section. Nobody does more name calling or threatens more acts violence against other commenters than you do.

  9. Davey Jones Locker says:

    Geesus Glazer – read it up comments don’t make the writer or the story. Hearne, comparing your site to TKC is apples and oranges. Your opinion, social commentary, TKC a news aggregator. Your intent is to be original his isn’t.

    Harley you have yet to provide one shred of evidence to your publishing on huffingtonpost. Until you do your a liar.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Well said, Davey; TKC features Tony Drudge linking links. Those stories get a intro piece written for them and linked up, maybe ten minutes total time invested. They are current events as they happen, of course the front pages gets replaced pretty often.
      And when it comes to KCC detractors who want to claim Hearne uses Alexis or whatever site he chooses for tracking, accusing him of phony baloney results in comparison to TKC numbers, you never once find one of them with enough integrity, in the same accusatory tone, to point out there’s no accounting for accidental hits TKC gets from his cover girl name dropping that bring thousands to his page when they were actually googling some babe, NOT TKC, but the hit gets counted anyway. I’d say TKC has a much smaller audience than the tracking programs show, but hey, in his world a hit is a hit.
      Also, no one has a clue the amount of time that goes into writing a story for KCC. I’m three weeks in to hunting a break out for one line item in the 2013 KCMO budget. It’s hard to find the hard facts, my guess is its got a pile of dirt behind it. I may find the answer and have a story, I may not; it’s still three weeks of digging, 20+ emails with department heads and countless phone calls.
      It’s a lot harder than writing “Jennifer Flowers and the Plaza Flash Mob” and linking to a KCTV5 story!

      • Hearne says:

        Amen, baby…

        Mind if I call you baby?

      • chuck says:

        I wanna hear about Paul showing up in dimly lit parking garages meeting informants who fear for their lives.

        There is a movie I would go see.

        Alec Baldwin’s politics are a disgrace, but he would be perfect for the part Paul.


        He is good, really good and I think he can be Paul Wilosn.

        Not in life, but on the Silver Screen.

        Keep digging buddy, you and Sutherland are elevating this blog into uncharted territory.


        • paulwilsonkc says:

          Well thank you, kind sir. The more often Hearne calls me “baby” the better I feel about writing; its not just about the money, although it is a substantial attraction.

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      He pumps his lies out from his secret lair, deep beneath the sludge drying beds of the Overland Park Sewage Treatment Center.

      He’s is a miserable little cockroach who skitters for cover whenever the light is shined upon him.

      He proposed the wager and as the challenger it is my right to name the time and meeting place. But as always he is never able to find the courage to follow through on his bragging or his lies.

  10. Stomper says:


    Good article. I’m a relatively new commenter here and usually only jump in when I take issue with something, and/or think I actually have something cogent to offer. You have some contributors with serious chops ( Edelman, Urich, and Poessiger among others) that generate very few comments while others ( Glazer, Wilson, and you) can get buried. I read about everything posted here and while I think the overwhelming majority have at least have some degree of value, I’m sometimes disappointed at how quickly the comments degenerate into personal attacks and it’s not just from one or two people.

    Kudos again for landing Sutherland and when he is not commenting on the arts, I find his contributions to be very provocative. Dwight probably reads more books in a month than most of us do in a lifetime so I think very few of us are capable of intellectually responding on his level. I’m sure there are some. Being a bit of a political junkie, most of my comments go to Dwight and Whinery but you and Paul can draw me out of my hole as well. Paul’s piece about home schooling a few weeks ago was interesting, well researched and generated a large number of comments that were both well thought out while also maintaining a high level of civility.

    That’s KCC at its’ best. I also like reading the thoughts from many of your more regular commenters like Chuck, Dude, Orphan, John A., and Harley among others. I got in on the very tail end of Smartman’s contributions so I missed out there. Especially since it turned out that I knew him once H revealed his real name.

    While there may be some level of merit in Lefsetz’s opinion of commenters, I’d like to think that many of us that do comment have power (however Bob defines that) and are multi-taskers that stay busy during their waking hours but can organize well enough to find the time to offer an opinion or response here.

    Keep up the good work Hearne. Still waiting on your thoughts on Granville !!!

  11. Comments, schmomments. Lord help the man (see Hall and Hearne) who must rely on unreliable third party actions (see comments and “unique visitors”) to deliver a source of income. Much preferable, kids, to work a good paying day job, and leave the Internet writing to your free time, divorced from any pressure other than the joy of free expression.

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