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2021 Blog Year in Review: Wordiest DFP Commenters!

The Dakota Free Press comment section saw a decline in activity this year. This blog fielded 18,336 approved comments consisting of approximately 1.495 million words (characters divided by 5.1, the average length of English words) from around 580 distinct authors. That maintains a pandemic-era decrease on comments from 2019, when this blog saw 26,204 comments, approximately 2.386 million words from around 740 distinct commenters. Curiously, the decline in commenters does not indicate a decline in readership: Total views rose from 1.414M in 2019 to a DFP-record 2.036M in 2021. More people are reading Dakota Free Press, but fewer people are responding in the comment section. I invite your speculation on the reasons for these cross-trends.

The volume of commentary is still remarkable. In 2021, you commenters produced the equivalent text of 21.4 novels (using the 64,531 words of Brave New World as our measuring stick). My responses in the comment section contributed another 1.8 novels’ worth of text. That’s still well short of the over 33 novels’ worth of text you readers generated in 2019, but 2021’s commenter output, if printed and bound, would still take up a lot of shelf space.

By the way, since launching Dakota Free Press in March 2015, over 3,000 distinct commenters have generated 173,171 comments consisting of over 230 novels worth of text. I’ve responded in the comment section 11,840 times with 16.8 novels worth of text. If we bound all those comments into 247 inch-thick volumes, our conversations (just the comment section, not the blog posts that spark them) would require over 20 feet of shelf space.

My responses to your comments made up 7.8% of 2021’s comment sections. That percentage has decreased over time: in 2015, my comments made up 15.1% of the conversation below the posts. Hmm… is it good or bad that I take up less of that conversation space?

Here’s a chart showing the 30 most loquacious Dakota Free Press commenters in 2021; below that is a chart showing the top 100, all based on calculated word count:

DFP Top 30 commenters plus CAH 2021
DFP Top 30 commenters plus CAH 2021
Author Words Comments
Cory Allen Heidelberger 114,819 1,216
Donald Pay 108,877 785
bearcreekbat 85,046 364
Arlo Blundt 74,009 885
Mark Anderson 67,121 1,345
mike from iowa 64,683 1,378
Porter Lansing 62,461 1,039
larry kurtz 61,243 648
leslie 59,181 443
John 52,803 438
grudznick 51,738 1,133
jerry 47,837 632
o 43,554 525
John Dale 36,387 493
DaveFN 35,696 267
Guy 28,853 346
Jake 26,584 428
SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 26,204 224
Richard Schriever 22,005 331
happy camper 20,644 142
RST Tribal Member 19,409 107
Ryan 17,026 175
Eve Fisher 16,774 181
Joe 14,116 127
96Tears 13,500 77
Bonnie B Fairbank 11,499 170
V 11,176 111
Whitless 10,882 74
Dicta 10,847 195
Yvonne 10,709 70
cibvet 10,635 241
Jenny 8,525 131
Bob Newland 7,807 190
Loren 7,143 148
robin friday 6,837 106
ds 6,541 67
Kurt Evans 6,521 50
Wayne 6,131 33
David Newquist 5,571 48
Disgusted Dakotan 4,750 37
Neal 4,627 68
sx123 4,559 112
Nick Nemec 4,351 85
WillyNilly 4,266 51
Scott 4,249 60
Francis Schaffer 4,063 75
Spike 3,837 39
Anne 3,745 24
Jen 3,645 24
Nix 3,634 66
T 3,471 59
Caleb 3,444 27
mike Livingston 3,355 108
John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 3,030 18
Edwin Arndt 2,876 67
LCJ 2,652 51
Vi Kingman 2,551 63
Lottie 2,519 67
Chris S. 2,391 32
Darrell Solberg 2,323 28
Steve Hickey 2,300 19
Buckobear 2,201 111
MD 2,201 19
Bill 2,197 41
Anne Beal 2,130 11
OldTimerDon 1,953 15
Art Clark 1,912 11
Korey Jackson 1,854 14
Dana P 1,839 20
Scott Ehrisman 1,789 23
Sion G. Hanson 1,746 24
Allen Jeris 1,553 19
chris 1,522 33
Curt 1,476 33
Rebecca 1,406 8
Daniel Buresh 1,399 6
Kyle Krause 1,347 9
Dr. Terry LaFleur 1,344 27
Eowyn 1,338 5
kj trailer trash 1,328 16
Marie 1,326 9
Ray Tysdal 1,208 8
Kent Frerichs 1,136 4
Wade Brandis 1,089 5
Cody 1,043 17
W R Old Guy 1,005 13
james 996 16
El Rayo X 963 14
Moses6 943 21
CraigSk 919 15
marvin kammerer 898 11
John Silas 897 5
RS 869 5
Dave Baumeister 850 8
lrads1 844 7
BJD 833 1
David Bergan 785 8
Anthony Renli 761 3
Scott Spaulding 735 3
Amy B. 706 10

Whether you write to agree or disagree, I thank you all for your contributions to the conversations. Approach the comment section with good faith, good humor, and good information, and we can all profit from each other’s company.

Now, how many novels shall we write together in 2022?


  1. larry kurtz 2022-01-01

    Cool. Does WordPress have that feature or is it on your Mac or third party app?

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-01

    Larry, I’m using a plugin called “Database Browser” that my web host found and installed for me. It lets me run SQL queries to pll data straight from my WordPress tables. If you like, I can share the SQL scripts that produce the above numbers. The plugin displays the results on the screen for easy copying and pasting; it also exports results in HTML and CSV, so you can paste the results into blog posts or into Excel to make charts.

  3. larry kurtz 2022-01-01

    I am probably too lazy for chart making but have been searching for a reliable word counter. Have you tried the one in Google Docs?

  4. Porter Lansing 2022-01-01

    The Dakota Free Press comment section saw a decline in activity this year.”
    Do you think this is because the arguments have declined, now that we don’t get other people’s comments in our email?
    It matters very little what I think but this change was a good thing.
    It’s known knowledge that the human brain is never more engaged than when it’s racing to compose the next expression in an argument.
    But a mind engaged in argument is time wasted, within the pursuit of new things and new ideas.
    You know, innovation skills.
    A piece of what leaves South Dakota with the “brain drain”, as you rank in the bottom ten states for innovation skills.

  5. Porter Lansing 2022-01-01

    PS … grudznick talks more than me, however he used fewer intelligent words. :)

  6. Donald Pay 2022-01-01

    Pretty depressing that I regurgitated so many words here, when I have my novel to finish. If I don’t finish it before I die, Cory is to blame.

  7. mike from iowa 2022-01-01

    Less is more.

    ps I caught inaugural New Year’s mouse overnight. From the condition this olde house is in, I could conceivably catch one mouse for each comment in 2022.

  8. mike from iowa 2022-01-01

    Porter, you had to sign up for the comments in your email. The box used to be under “save my name and email” displayed with every comment. You could also unsubscribe to them, as well. Even I figured it out after awhile.

  9. buckobear 2022-01-01

    … and I didn’t even make the list !

  10. Nix 2022-01-01

    Thanks for “It’s known knowledge that the human brain is never more engaged than when it’s racing to compose the next expression in an argument. “

    I need to look in the mirror and pump the brakes.
    Thanks again.

  11. grudznick 2022-01-01

    Do you have reports on goats gotten? I’d like to validate my tally.

  12. Bob Newland 2022-01-01

    Grudznutz, don’t you mean goats sucked off? Your tally is roughly two a day, I think.

  13. Eve Fisher 2022-01-01

    It was a busy year for me; I’ll try to do better commenting in 2022.

  14. Arlo Blundt 2022-01-01

    Well….I resolve to be brief and to the point in 2022.

  15. V 2022-01-02

    Buckobear, you and I tied with 111 comments but it’s obvious that I use more words, 100 per comment on the average. More words does not necessarily translate to more content, however.

    Thank you, Cory, for a forum to comment and to read those of others.

  16. John Dale 2022-01-02

    Thanks for letting me post.

  17. Laurie 2022-01-02

    Agree with mike from Iowa. Less is more.

  18. mike from iowa 2022-01-02

    Grudzilla has validated his dire need for a white coat intervention. Shoot, I had thought 5G ate John Dale. Must have hidden deep in his conspiracy theory rabbit hole(s).

  19. RST Tribal Member 2022-01-02

    2022 will be shaping up to be a made or break year for the 45 declared SD RINO, grabbed by the you know where America’s governor, the sparrow gerrymandering and a host of goofiness from the inept inbred Republicans in SD.

    Will the happy weed be on the campaign stump in 2022 or go up in smoke again?. Will the COVID virus and its mutations continue to clear out the genetic pool of fools in US and SD along with innocent bystanders? Will there be an Indian upraising during the replacement of a termed out representative? What about SD’s poster gimmick of hiding dirty money for bad actors throughout the world?

    Where is SD headed in 2022 and beyond? If the past is the future then oh oh. Will critical race theory become common educational practice? Many families in Gregory, Lyman, Bennett, Mellette and Tripp counties would not want their current generation to learn how their fore parents screwed the Indians and US Gov’t out of the land in those counties that is held dearly today. Especially the “Brandon” screaming ass wipe families in Todd and Tripp counties. Surely SD Republican leadership don’t want young Indian people to learn about any questionable behaviors of the past, as they will do something about it.

    Day 2 of 2022, more to come from DFP and it’s commenters.

  20. Mark Anderson 2022-01-02

    Thanks, I can use this info to get a raise. Soros you know.

  21. Vi Kingman 2022-01-02

    I will strive to do better Cory

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-02

    Do better? Vi Kingman, I’m just glad you and everyone else are here. Keep those comments coming!

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-02

    Mark, yeah, mention DFP to Soros as well. He is seriously underpaying all of us.

  24. Porter Lansing 2022-01-02

    My hero Russell Means would’ve been proud of this sentiment.
    “Surely SD Republican leadership don’t want young Indian people to learn about any questionable behaviors of the past, as they will do something about it.”
    Remember when AIM was scaring the bejezus out of whitey?
    I was living on the REZ in Eagle Butte and have never felt safer among a dominant culture.
    It’s time for some Critical Race Theory to be put into Critical Race Action.

  25. mike from iowa 2022-01-02

    RST Tribal Member…. Excerpt from South DaCola post 1/1/22…

    Often, when lawmakers want to make it safe for the rest of us to go to the bathroom or make abortions impossible to get or guns easier to get, they are getting their marching orders from outside the state.

    Which also baffles me. If you do google searches on these three issues, while the poll numbers fluctuate, none drop below 50% (These are nationwide averages based on several polls);

    • Support keeping Abortion Legal and Safe: 60% Support

    • Federal legalization of Adult use recreational cannabis: 60% Support

    • Stricter gun laws and other gun control measures: 53% Support

    I kind of scratch my head when the peeps in Pierre act like South Dakota is some island when it comes to how the rest of the country thinks (even though over HALF of our funding comes from Federal taxpayers), I would remind you that when it comes to legal abortion and Rec MJ, voters have supported it in this state.

  26. mike from iowa 2022-01-02

    Is South Duhkota burning while Noem fiddles around?

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-02

    Larry< i haven't tried the word counter in Google Docs. The trick for stats like this is that I have to run character counts on 18K+ distinct comments by author. If the counter in Google Docs is just like the counter in Word or Notepad++ (if you’re running Windows, you should get this program now and never bother with MS Notepad again) or TextMate (the Mac next-best alternative to Notepad++ that I’ve found), you get word count for an entire chunk of text, but you can’t get separate counts for each comment that you could sum by author… at least not without several days worth of individual clicks and data entry.

    Creating the list and chart above, which requires grouping total words and comments by author, works far more easily, efficiently, and automatically with a SQL query on the database. For those of you eager to nerd out, here’s the code, which anyone with WordPress blog and access to their database can run:

    SELECT comment_author, comment_author_email
    , FORMAT(SUM(LENGTH(comment_content))/5.1,1) Words
    , FORMAT(SUM(LENGTH(comment_content))/5.1/64531,1) Novels
    , COUNT(comment_content) Comments
    FROM wp_comments
    WHERE comment_date BETWEEN '2021-01-01 00:00:00' AND '2021-12-31 23:59:59'
    AND comment_approved=1
    GROUP BY comment_author
    ORDER BY SUM(LENGTH(comment_content)) DESC
    LIMIT 101

    • SELECT tells which fields I want to pull from the table.
    • LENGTH returns the number of characters in the comment content.
    • SUM() adds up all of those lengths.
    • FORMAT(…,1) turns the results of the division into a number with a single decimal place. If you wanted no decimal place, you’d just change the at the end of the express to 0.
    • COUNT() counts the number of comments.
    • FROM tells which table to pull the data from.
    • The compound WHERE clause limits the query to (1) comments posted between the given dates AND (2) comments that have been approved (deleted comments still hang around in the database, cluttering up the works!)
    • GROUP BY tells the query to make separate counts for each comment author
    • ORDER BY lists the results in DESCending order by each author’s total character count. (If you want to list authors by most comments instead of total comment length, replace “SUM(LENGTH(comment_content))” with “COUNT(comment_content)” or “Comments”.
    • LIMIT 100 tells the query to list just the first 101 results (set to 101 to get 100 commenters other than myself!).

    The code may look like gobbledygook, but I paste that code into my SQL plugin and get the top 101 results in less than 3 seconds. Whee!

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-02

    Critical Race Theory into Critical Race Action? Now there’s a topic worth some commentary. Crank out those book-equivalents!

  29. larry kurtz 2022-01-02

    Thanks, Cory. Will give it a whirl!

  30. Guy 2022-01-02

    Thank God I did NOT make the top of the list ! (((SIGH)))…but, I’m even surprised I made it to the middle of the list? I didn’t think I replied that much?!?

  31. DaveFN 2022-01-02

    “More people are reading Dakota Free Press, but fewer people are responding in the comment section. I invite your speculation on the reasons for these cross-trends.”

    Venturing to guess that DFP pulls in readers who are not particularly “progressive,” and don’t want to post but do find what Cory writes is compelling enough to read. Good job, Cory.

  32. DaveFN 2022-01-02

    …and the number of less-than-“liberal” readers turning to DFP is increasing, aka lurkers who want an intelligent venuenfor a change. One can but hope.

    Alternatively, an increasingly “liberal” cohort of new readers are intimidated into not posting amongst the rather closed group of those who do post over and over again, as it takes some time before they start posting and feel accepted.

    No stone unturned when it comes to postulating reasons. Gedanken experiments, or at least, gedanken hypotheses with no empirical support as of yet.

  33. leslie 2022-01-03

    Trumpist Grdz’s DFP. Sigh. The right wins again.

  34. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-01-03

    I wish I’d said “Non-disparagement” = “Truthiness” for Ms. Bren. I’ve been hung out to dry, and so has she.

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