February 22, 2008

What’s a 100,000 posts per day? A Damn Good Start.

by tolles at 11:00 AM

Yesterday, for the first time, we received over 100,000 comments into the Topix forums in a one day period. When we launched this, I told the engineering team that it would be amazing if got to 10,000 comments a day. So, I wanted to provide a shout out here for the folks that have made this happen.

Kicking ass

While commenting functionality and forums are hardly new, the fact that we have systems to auto-moderate, spam detect and scale to handle 100,000 posts per day, with forum threads of tens of thousands of posts, is a pretty neat trick. I don’t know of any other place on the web where this volume of posting occurs with the kind of functionality we provide. This is a great testament to the architecture and implementation that our engineers have put in here.

One of the most interesting aspects of running a place where millions of people interact is that you can get a good running start with algorithms and automated systems, but at the end of the day, we’ve found having people to look at the corner cases is critical for a healthy system. And keeping everything from going off the rails has been handled superbly from the folks here doing community management.


When journalists wring their hands and fret over anonymous commentary, or decry the presence of the masses linked to the pages of newspapers, it betrays their belief system – that only journalists can decide what is “news”, and that society is running off the rails with this …commentary...gaining traction.

The Internet empowers true many-to-many communication. It is *not* just another distribution medium for the products of broadcast media. Sure, it’s a great way to connect to people all over the world, and it’s been amazing at destroying the business model that paid for all of that content. But, really, the next step here is to empower everyone to talk to everyone else.

At Topix, we’re interested in giving people the ability to connect to other folks in their community, or community of interest. With over 100,000 comments a day coming in, and with participation from over 20,000 different communities every month, I think we’re on to something.


We’re all for helping publishers and the main stream media get in on this – and we’re providing commentary for all the Tribune publications, Media News, and LinTV & NBC’s television stations, amongst others. Lots of publishers already get it, and I’m excited to see that people are beginning to understand the inevitability of commentary connected to main stream media products.

There’s an important role for journalism and journalists here – to investigate and write stories, to fact check and provide a level of comprehensiveness that just isn’t the role of the commentariat to provide. But the Internet is empowering the average guy to put their opinion out there as well, and to engage with other people. And for my money, getting people to engage with each other is the big prize here.

The future is much more involved with engaging people to participate than it is in merely informing them of one point of view. I love my Sunday NY Times, and I love the local columnists in the SF Chronicle. But I really like the fact that the Chronicle beats the pants off of the NY Times in terms of giving their readers the ability to comment and engage with each other.

We’re excited to be powering that future – and with 100,000 posts per day, we’re really picking up some speed.