I'll keep this short.
It seems to me that none of the Gawker sites offer enough by way of original content to keep people coming back. That opinion is based upon nothing and has no value anywhere, but anyway, there it is. To me, as long as the format is something along the lines of second-hand news + viral video + occasional original bit + snark + abnormally exclusive commenting system, there would always be a hard cap on the amount of traffic Gawker sites would be able to generate and sustain. Were it not for a collection of outstanding commenters, it's likely I would virtually never visit Deadspin. As it stands, the overwhelming majority of my visits to Deadspin are to see what's going on in the comments. Sometimes, I don't even look at the posts.
The challenge, the contest of becoming a commenter on Deadspin is engaging for those of us inclined towards putting a downright unhealthy amount of time and effort into crafting jokes, but it's important to remember, from time to time, that a lot of the seemingly brain-dead pink commenters and probably a strong majority of the less prolific grey commenters are, in fact, people of better-than-average intelligence, people whose traffic would maybe increase if there weren't so many barriers to participation. I might think of having a star on Deadspin as a badge of awesomeness, but most normal, healthy, sane folks, people with real jobs and credit cards and social lives, they think of the amount of work necessary for that as a totally out-of-the-question devotion of energy. And? They're right.
For every fat-leaveher, who came to Deadspin because of the hierarchical commenting system, there are probably dozens if not hundreds of equally intelligent internet travelers who read a story, have a thought, bother to type up a comment, find that their comment is somehow invisible, and move right the hell on with the rest of their totally fulfilling lives without ever looking back. To them, Deadspin is that quirky site with the broken commenting system. For every IronMikeGallego, who was approved and starred in his first two comments, both of which were not even remotely jokes, there are probably dozens if not hundreds of equally intelligent, thoughtful people with an interest in a particular sport and the capacity to contribute quality commentary who've been either discouraged by the hierarchical commenting system or were flat-out chased away, whether by a ninja squadron upholding the one rule of Deadspin commenting, or by a snarky, totally-outside-of-what-is-appropriate dig from Phintastic, or by this very site (and its offspring), or by a simple lack of reciprocal interest in genuine discourse.
In short, there's a whole world of people wasting time on the internet this very minute, and something that Gawker and Deadspin are doing is, at best, failing to capture their attention. At worst, it's actively discouraging their participation. And that's bad.
One way or another, we're all going to have to get used to this change. If you're inclined to move on from Deadspin altogether, you won't be alone. I, for one, probably won't have much use for the place after the changes go into effect. Not because I think Deadspin will be taking a huge nosedive or anything that silly. No, I'm just one guy whose use for Deadspin was the jokes and only the jokes. There are hundreds or thousands or millions of potential readers and participants to be attracted, and if the moderators are up to the task of keeping their contributions within reasonable bounds, that's a huge win for Nick Denton et al. I won't begrudge them that. The fact is, there will still be very good comments on Deadspin. A great joke will still be a great joke. You'll still know who all the best jokers are, if you're paying attention. We should not assume this change means that suddenly Deadspin will be trading commenters with ESPN.com. But overall, it will be a friendlier place for the casual reader to become a casual participant. Whatever pitfalls come with that, it certainly stands to increase traffic, and that's good business.
Hey, you fucks, make the best of it in the meantime. I hope we'll all stick around long enough to try a new thing and see if it fits. If not, hey, there's always Gamboa's bedroom window to keep me occupied.
Keep on doin'.