From the pages of THE NEW YORKER are a few paragraphs on the TalkNats effect

Thousands gather on TalkNats for a shared bond of their love of the game and Washington Nationals baseball. There are cooking sites and Hollywood sites that do the same thing for their readers. Most are cluttered in annoying ads and paywalls that let you quickly know they are about maximizing profit. Before TalkNats, it was Going Deep with the Nats in a free form effort by myself, Ray and Don to create a site that would be moderated and clean. We delivered on it as our first promise to those who joined us on the site.

With our first sourced piece back in 2015 that there was a SNAG in the Bud Black hiring, we were on our way as a site that needed a new identity and TalkNats was created from that with new people to run the back office. That was eight years ago, and a few thousand clicks on the site. Today, it’s over 10 million. And today’s surprise was Cal Newport’s article in THE NEW YORKER titled, “We Don’t Need A New Twitter” and TalkNats was discussed in a few paragraphs.

It turns out that Newport is a fan of TalkNats and an admitted lurker. A lurker is just a fun word for someone who reads the articles and comments, but does not physically participate in the discussions. We average 212 commenters on a good day, and sometimes over 2,000 comments in a day. Yes, we have some people who might write 20-to-30 comments in the day, and the community members who write and comment are the ones that make TalkNats even more special. It is more than one voice, and you have Stever20 leading the charge on cool stats and the latest Twitter pieces to post, and Warning Track Power telling us what is happening during the game, and even Intrepid who clearly works for the team and let us know yesterday the tarp was on the field three hours before game time. A high-schooler like Ben got active in writing as someone who wants to pursue it professionally after college. Most were shocked that he was only 16 years old. We have Sao in the great Northwest who writes long-form articles on the Who’s Who on the team. Forensicane just wrote from Tokyo. Dozens more who stop in to write and those who say they just come for the therapy like Nats128.

There have been community meetups at the stadium as Section222 can tell you about, and Draz has led some of the TalkNats road trips with buses full of fans to road games. PowerBoater69 will often go between Twitter and other sites to let them know about great stuff on TalkNats. The site stats reports tell us geographically where readers come from and where they find us from Google News to Apple News to a link on Bleacher Report. The power of the internet is incredible. The grassroots support from private messages of a tweet we should see from Dr. Tina, or an edit suggestion from Susan who happens to be a professional editor just adds to the content, or a CPAs expertise on a sale of a sports team from Laura P. is invaluable. But the players and sources that contact us with the power of the information seems unrivaled. These are all people who want this site to succeed, and they even come from competing sites like Rich from The Nats Report -or- even with another team to let me know that Franmil Reyes signed with the Nats. Some just love the Nats so much they dip into their own pockets to giveaway tickets on their Twitter pages like Navy Yard Nats and tag us to spread the word. Our photography is second to none with original photos from Sol, Marlene, Abbie, and Clint. Sometimes others take a great shot or video that they want us to share. Sports are supposed to be fun, and as Newport writes:

“Some of the users have met one another in real life, while others are known only by their digital personas. The overall atmosphere is notably collegial, like a local sports bar where the regulars gather to root for the home team.”

Newport gets us, clearly. A few hours after the article went live I was contacted by someone from an MLB team that asked how they could get a TalkNats type site started — independently for their team. They did not want to run it. We will have that discussion. People want to know what the secret sauce is that makes a site like this work for so long when most sites fail. There are better writers than what we have, and yet their sites failed. The good ones have been bought up, and TalkNats owners have been asked to sell for a lot of money — and they have said “No” over and over — but they said they would like to expand into other markets — and they have TalkCommanders and TalkTerrapins as sister sites. They would love to have TalkWizards and TalkCaps too, if Ted Leonsis is interested. It takes a lot of work and money to do it.

“In these two extremes of digital interaction, large platforms such as Twitter and Threads on one side and a boutique fan site such as on the other, we find two competing visions for how best to converse online. The existence of small but energetic sites such as supports the claim that the power of the Internet is the potential for connection that it provides. Because any user of this vast network can connect to any other, the possibilities for discovering unique or meaningful interactions become seemingly endless. Early Internet boosters emphasized how this potential connectivity enabled an exciting variety of TalkNats-style microcommunities, each dedicated to its own wonderfully esoteric, shared identities or interests.” 

— Newport writes in THE NEW YORKER

Humbling to say the least. Thanks to Cal Newport who I do not know, but you stood in our forest and heard a tree fall.

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