Calling Zeldar, or any other statisticians: how many of us are there?

Has anyone worked out the average number of active posters who are active at any one time?

Zeldar, as the resident statistician (and many thanks for your ongoing efforts), do you - or any other interested parties - know how many active Dopers there are at any one time? By active, I suppose I mean the number of Dopers who have posted at least once in a month, and then that figure averaged out over a three, six and twelve month period. That way, we’d know roughly how many active posters there are at any one time. And whether the number is rising or falling.

I’d love to know how many of us there are.

Interesting questions that I have tried at various times to address. And thanks for the kind words, and recognition.

It’s been a while, but I tried by way of several (at least two) threads to get “lurkers” to speak up. Many did. I’ll retrieve links to those threads in a little bit for you.

There was a time, back when the “stand and be counted” threads (I’ll link to those, too) were a hot topic that one of the other folks used a data mining app to retrieve lots of data from profiles and such and he (I believe it was a he) had some good results that might be expanded on.

I’ll be back with data in a little while.

Good idea, by the way. I know Giles seems to be keen on this sort of thing, too.

Got to be many others!

Confession: I blitz-read the OP and thought it was NinetyWt asking! She’s another stats freak who’s been very active on the birth years and such.

It was a neat surprise when I realized it was you, NineToTheSky! If nothing else we can ramble on about first one topic and then another if the stats well dries up!

Where’s Chez Guevara these days?

VBulletin readily gives you this information. You can plug in any period of time and it will tell you how many users have logged in during that time. Most message board Administrators make that statistic visible on the front page. For some reason, the powers that be here have decided that this is Super Secret Information that must not be shared with the rabble.

It’s possible, albeit tedious, to get an accurate count of some universe of Dopers. Go to the “Advanced Search” page. Where it says “Search by User Name,” type in three letters and/or numbers. A list pops up of all Dopers who start with those three characters. Count that list. Repeat this procedure 46,556 times to account for all three-character combinations.

Maybe someone could make this their Ph.D thesis and get funding.

This probably covers all Dopers present and past, though.

It wasn’t so much ‘lurkers’ that I was thinking of. Is there an (easy) way to go back to, say, February, and see how many people posted in that month?

Again, I wasn’t thinking of asking people to stand up and be counted. More mining past data.

And, yes, I’m sure that if the statistics dry up, we’ll be able to waffle on on completely random subjects, if necessary. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve collected links to 16 old threads that I started that may bear on the issue(s), but it looks like the replies above may have better answers.

I’ll post those links if you want to see them, but the guy who had the neat data mining technique is
Antonius Block
Charter Member
Last Activity: 03-02-2010 05:25 PM

If I understand you correctly, that would give us all the people of have registered on the SDMB. I am interested in how many different people post on the Dope at any one moment. From that, it can - or should be - not too difficult to find out how many are active in given periods.

It hadn’t occurred to me though that, as hajario has mentioned, this may be super secret information. If this is so, I apologise, and I will be happy to backpedal gracefully and exit stage left from this enquiry. (Or should that be inquiry?)

The Straight Dope is part of a privately held company that does not as a general rule disclose any information.

Fair enough. But would you have any objections to us trying to work out that information?

Let’s hope the answer is “No, not a bit. Go right ahead and amuse yourselves to suit your whims.”

Otherwise, I have about 30 threads we could go ahead and zap!

While I await TubaDiva’s response with baited breath, I can’t see that it should be a problem. I can see how it might affect advertisers to know how big an audience they’re selling to, but only in the same way as the current age breakdown threads could help them target the products they’re pushing; and those threads haven’t invoked the ire of TPTB.

Except, on reflection, if it turned out that there were only, say, three active participants, that might reduce the advertising potential somewhat.

Okay, brainstorming bullshit, what if you take an approach like this:

  1. visit each forum’s main page
  2. sort that forum’s threads by number of replies
  3. pick the top x-number of replied-to threads
  4. use the little “Who’s posted?” dofunny on each one selected
  5. collect some numbers about how many threads are currently visible on the home page and calculate some percantages by forum

This way you might be able to ballpark the “active crowd” by forum.

Gauging the “normal sized thread” by forum would let you use those forum numbers to see how popular the forum is, and then your extrapolation to total Message Board could be a reasonable estimate.

How’s that?

Er - excuse my ignorance, but what is #4?

It’s the next-to-last column across each forum page, labeled “Replies.” Clicking the number for a thread gives you a list of posters who responded to the thread and how many posts they made.

Okay. When you’re looking at the forum home page (or New Posts page) you see something similar to this:

Calling Zeldar, or any other statisticians: how many of us are there?
Today 12:58 PM
by NineToTheSky
13 102
About This Message Board

The “13” here is number of posts.

Click on that and you get:

Who Posted?
Total Posts: 14

User Name Posts

NineToTheSky 6
Zeldar 5
TubaDiva 1
Tom Tildrum 1
hajario 1

Show Thread & Close Window

From this you can see that you’ve had 5 unique posters (including you) and that two of us have done the most posting.

Quick way to evaluate whether clicking on the title is worth the trouble, as well as letting you know how diverse the participation may be.

Well, I never. I didn’t know that.

Zeldar: But that method is going to be very labour intensive, isn’t it? And how do you quantify the time period? It just tells you who posted since the thread started.

Here’s another approach to get Big Picture ideas.

At the bottom of the main SDMB page you’ll see this sort of thing:

What’s Going On?
Straight Dope Message Board Statistics
Threads: 533,537, Posts: 12,122,242, Members: 88,875
Welcome to our newest member, GonzalezVic
You could keep a file of this sort of data and monitor how it changes over the time frame you’re interested in.

One of those threads I was going to post for you was 4,000,000th post: Who, When, Where?
10-13-2003, 08:58 AM

where I tried to turn it into a little game of sorts to try to predict when the number would hit.

It might be fun to see how the 21 posts went before

That’s fun in the same sense as watching paint dry.

10-4 on the labor intensive. You can see why and how TPTB have left it to us to code around their unwillingness to share such secret data.

My suspicion is that even if we could get right at the data itself, there would still be a fair amount of guesswork in coming up with average anything.

My own usage as an example. I had been away for months without even checking in. Then a month or so ago I jumped in with both feet so that what had been 0 posts per day for quite a while has jumped up to more like 30 posts per day. The average wouldn’t tell you much about my actual usage.

Yes, but it’s not anyone’s usage that I’m interested in. Once someone has made a post in a given time frame, he’s on the scale. It’s the number of posters who have been active (and one post in this scenario is active) in a given period.