Why is the SDMB membership declining, and what's the best way to add younger members?

Probably. I think vBulletin used a 60 day average while Discourse uses a 30 day average. I don’t think that would make that much of a difference though.

That graph is showing posts. My metric was people. It’s possible that fewer people created just as many posts, particularly right after the switch. But my WAG is that the decline was happening way before the transition.

Yes, but a 60 day vs a 30 day average of what?

Is a user considered to be active if he only views the site, or if he posts?

Does he have to view the site for a certain amount of time to be considered active? There may be other criteria.

If the poster logs in. There’s no way to capture who is reading without logging in, and the posting member number would be way lower.

*I was pretty sure about this when I posted it, but now I’m second guessing. Perhaps someone can correct me if they know.

Discourse does provide many stats and graphs for the mods. So I’m hoping one of the mods will take some screenshots and post them.

The truth is, probably other sites are better for the general internet population of people who are just looking for an answers to a questions. Sites with ranked/voted posts like Quora, StackExchange, Reddit, etc. are more likely to have the quick answer right at the top of the page. The SDMB is better for people who want to have a discussion about a topic. So not only what is the answer, but why is that the answer and what are other viewpoints that might have different answers. Someone clicking on a google result which points to a SDMB thread will need to read through the thread to comprehend the discussion and sift through the various conclusions and viewpoints. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s not what most people are looking for when they search google for answers.

Insulting people doesn’t accomplish that, though.

Many thanks! :slightly_smiling_face:

I don’t see any evidence of a decline in membership or activity over the past month, anyway.

The number of daily engaged users has remained fairly constant, and the number of new contributors seems to be slightly up. The page views, both from logged in users and anonymous users, have stayed about the same.

Would it be possible to get a similar report for the last year, rather than just the last month?

I think that’s why you need something to bring in a higher volume of traffic. A message board by itself really has very little to offer people these days. People can go to reddit to chat about pretty much anything. SDMB’s brand has been that it’s a website where intellectually curious people pose curious questions, which then gets a response in the form of an authentically conceived and written article, which in turn gets people to ‘bite’ in response to it. That, in turn, leads outsiders to read the rest of the content, which itself can generate more content in the form of ideas or questions for future articles.

Without that connection to the outside world, SDMB is destined to languish and to become a place where old timers like myself and others hang out and evolve into an online social club of sorts. Newbies come in and post, and then people in said social club inevitably sneer and write “That’s not how we post around here, son.” This is a pretty common phenomenon for 1990s era message boards. Another benefit of having content (a column or something else) is that if people dip their toes in the message boards and don’t like the temperature at first, they can still read the articles and keep coming back to the site.

I think it’s especially bad with both GD and P&E. There’s about a dozen posters that seem to monopolize any given topic, mostly (though not entirely) very left leaning, and so repetitive and dogmatic that their opinions are correct about everything that there’s no point in even getting involved. If someone disagrees with any opinion, they will get fifteen posts telling them how they’re wrong and probably calling them a bigot.

Should we shut down those forums? Probably not, but I swear they would be better with some people being banned from posting in them.

Thank you! :sparkles:

  • Topics, posts, and daily engaged users have held more or less steady, with perhaps a slight downward trend.

  • The high number of signups in July and August last year would have been from the move, so that makes sense. But signups certainly seem to have dropped this year, from 140 in January to 80 in June.

  • New contributors have also been dropping, from 60 in January to just under 40 in June.

So it looks like there’s certainly a need to find a way to increase the membership, and the number of people finding their way to the board.

Have you thought about posting Google ads promoting the SDMB? It seems like it would be a good way to get new people clicking on the board. Ads work for everybody else, so why not for this board?

You can choose the kind of sites where you want the ads to appear, and target certain age groups and demographics.

I know it costs money, but if the subscriptions get going there should some money available for promotion.

What I would expect at this point is that if those posters–who absolutely exist and who absolutely do not contribute–were banned from doing what they do, the severe lack of actual new content would become even more glaringly obvious. That’s what I think is the central problem; the undesirable bits have all been winnowed away over the years to suit the needs of the primary users, and the side effect of all that polishing and repolishing has been that it’s gotten rid of any content, and any poster, that isn’t just like the content that’s already familiar. So now it at least seems like more than half the content is a group of maybe 100-150 or so people taking potshots at the same old things, which has two effects: one, it’s just not fun for people who aren’t those people, and two, it becomes less and less likely to change over time as that narrowing continues.

Ban the bigot and the fifteen posts calling someone a bigot, and you just don’t have any posts anymore.

I think that is too tiny a scale - this board was never huge but it was in decline longggg before the switch to discourse. That it has settled into a “comfortable rut” of mostly (contentious and irritable :smile:) older posters is what I would expect. It will, as long as its is still in existence, probably continue to totter along very slowly declining as more posters die and get fed up with one thing or another than join. Until somewhere down the line it dies with a solitary whimper rather than a bang.

Which is unfortunate, but probably inevitable. And ultimately that’s fine - everything dies :wink: .

The SDMB had also probably suffered the fate of a lot of media: Anti-Trump anger and passion drove a lot of traffic, while at the same time pushing away people who weren’t interested in 24/7 Trump bashing. Then Trump was gone, and that passion receded, but now all that’s left are anti-Trump people who aren’t as interesting to listen to or debate now that Trump is history.

Look what happened to CNN: In 2015 it became the anti-Trump network, and ratings went up a bit, but they lost the Conservatve half of their audience. But now that Trump is gone, the left isn’t all that interested in them any more either, and their ratings are down 70% and still falling.

We are in the post-Trump doldrums.

Alright. Message received. For the good of the SDMB … It’s Trump 2024 all the way! Let’s do this!

I find Reddit’s format truly exhausting, the many-headed hydra of threaded discussions going in every direction at once. It’s very difficult to keep a reasonable discussion going there, except for the rare heavily modded subreddits.

Everything is constantly pouring down the Reddit page via the overwhelming weight of time. It’s so bad that many subreddits post a “discussion topic of the day” thread and pin it.

We have an existing business relationship with Snopes. Can’t hurt to ask them…

This is like asking to talk to the best used car salesperson… :snake: what matters is interesting content. As long as you’re producing interesting content, you’ll get linked to. There are some other basics involved in not screwing things up by accidentally making it harder for Google to index you, but these are handled behind the scenes by Discourse.

(Now, you might reasonably ask what happens when you optimize only for engagement to the exclusion of everything else…)

Be careful because Discourse defines active user as a user that actually logs in and takes some action, including time spent reading (which is measured). I wouldn’t compare any vBulletin and Discourse stats directly.

One thing everyone has access to is the /about page which shows some basic stats, here’s what it looks like right now:

Last 24 hours Last 7 days Last 30 days All Time
Topics 34 218 917 863k
Posts 1.6k 12.1k 51.8k 23.0M
Users 6 36 108 131k
Active Users 1.1k 1.6k 2.0k
Likes 0 1 2 306

(btw users is NEW users, so 6 users in the last 24 hours) Look at the homepage and I have to scroll 14 topics down before I get anything older 10 minutes! This place is pretty active… you might even say… hoppin’ :kangaroo:

It’s also a good idea to consider how prolific some posters are, here’s a list of posters in the last year, ordered by post count:


Same table but sorted by topics created


Most of the advice in here is actionable…

  • I would love to see the mods go through and clean up the rules so they are simpler and clearer (Does this rule spark joy? if not, thank that rule and put it away.)

  • Consider creating new, interesting topics that reflect the spirit of SDMB. Bring your joy to us so we can share it. (I did create two new topics recently, you can see them on my user profile, and they were meant to be constructive discussions.)

  • Share links to interesting conversations with your wider internet world. I’ll cross-pollinate the Snopes discussion with this one, for example. Try the share button under each post – it’s got some pretty neat functionality in there, you can even get a badge for sharing posts.

  • I also think the BBQ pit should be reconsidered or reined in. Toxicity shouldn’t be tolerated even when it’s “for fun”.

The survival of independent communities like SDMB is critical to the future of the internet. I am all-in for communities that want to not just survive, but thrive. That’s literally why Discourse exists. :raised_hands:

Having an older, generally more mature member base here is something I enjoy. I’d rather see the board fade away than be taken over by youngsters.

I used to enjoy Mythbusters forum, but it was closed before the series ended because it was overtaken by too many youngsters asking for the hosts to do easily answered “myths” and crying “But I want the Mythbusters to do it…wahhhhhhh!”. The one that made me glad the forum was closed was an admitted preteen (the lower age limit was 13) asking if blowing on a spoon of soup cooled it quicker than not. A number of scientifically sound answers were given, but the poster still replied with the above wahhhh…statement.

Nooooooo! The board is just starting to recover. There’s even >2 non-Trump-related threads in the Pit again!

It’s true that there are many people here who aren’t interested in debate, simply repeating the same partisan talking points over and over long after they’ve been debunked. But if we didn’t have them, we’d have the echo chamber we’re already accused of having.

Part of the problem, of course, is the current nature of American politics and the steady stream of dubious propagandistic messages being propagated by various media outlets; these will inevitably draw the attention of a population predisposed to countering false and misleading statements with actual facts.

IOW, we’re in a rut because our culture is in a rut.