Originally Posted by Dirtclustit
is they are never what they appear to be. I couldn't agree more with what Ariakas said
When an "online" community has one thousand registered members, you have to realize that its one thousand profiles and not one thousand individual people who are registered members.
If you are talking about the individuals, you are talking about roughly half that amount, and realistically it's much closer to a third. So of that "online community" there are really only 300 people and not 1000, and of those 300 you might have 30 "special interest" individuals who have much stronger convictions about specific situations for whatever the theme is that the "online community" is centered on.
More often than not, those 30 "special interest" individuals are among the 50 or so who originally start the "online community" and due to their strong convictions, it can often appear that their opinion is the opinion of the overwhelming majority of those supposed 1000 members, however it's been my experience that that opinion is the opinion of "special interest"
you have to realize that online forums very rarely become the "rivers" of interaction between actual people in natural ways (which would be trickles of real peoples' opinion within a watershed and only when it rains) and ever since the "new deal" of advertising -- being that using the world wide web as the media for a sales gimmick is more effective than the previously dominant television, you will notice that there is much speculation about the hottest new "trendy" topic to dominate peoples real life conversations.
So what you end up with are rivers of artificial public interactions, forums that appear even semi-active are only 30 of the original 50 people who gathered in the infancy of the forum, and in order to attract other regular members those 30 will often post from three of more profiles until there are enough registered members to engage in conversation.
Which is NOT necessarily bad, however I feel it is a mistake for the majority opinion to appear to be the opinion of special interests. And I don't know what the worst type of special interest is, monetary, political, or when it is based on nothing other than online reputations which often corresponds to a bruised male ego.
I guess I should through out the disclaimer that none of this is fact, except for the part about the number of profiles to actual people typically being less than half when it is a social media type setting/forum.
As a 25 year admin on all sorts of forums:
I would say you are being generous with your stats. 30% pickup on usage would be very high on most medium to large forums and would be quite happy with those stats (especially if they were monitized). 3% pickup on actual active users or special interest is probably close.
When I ran a forum with around 500,000 users of a far more popular topic than poly, our stats fell more in line with 1% and 20%.
This site if you look at the bottom under the usernames, has 112,000 users with 9700 active members at approx 9% active membership, which if I remember right included people who simply logged in (lurkers for lack of a better word)
There used to be a really cool backend way of getting stats for vbulletin. It was slightly skewed since it couldn't discern statistical difference between activity levels which is really important when monetizing a forum. I am sure they are further along now, its been a while since I was involved at the dev level.
You could sum up your summary by "take everything said on a forum with a grain of salt" haha..