[Foundation-l] Analysis of lists statistics: community in decline

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Tue Nov 4 17:55:55 UTC 2008

Moving statistics issues in this thread...

On Tue, Nov 4, 2008 at 3:19 PM, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Nov 4, 2008 at 7:13 AM, Milos Rancic <millosh at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Commons is in a constant and significant decrease since May 2007.
> [snip]
> Milos, you are in error.
> See "Active authors" is holding steady just fine.
> Counting new users registrations is flawed because many registrations
> are just vandals or the confused public and they never edit. A
> decrease in new accounts can just mean that less people are confused.
> For some projects, like enwp, the majority of accounts created are of
> this type.  I'm also not sure how SUL creations are getting counted, I
> suspect they aren't.
> The better metrics are usually the most direct ones.  Active
> contributor counts haven't seen much change, for example,  Uploads to
> commons continue at a nice clip.
> Obviously there will be some up and down activity: We should expect
> seasonal variation, just as is seen in traffic levels on major
> internet backbones. It's important to be mindful that the absence of
> explosive growth is not a decline. Nothing can grow explosively
> forever.

For the moment I really thought that I concluded that based on new authors :)

But, first of all, the field "new authors" is not about new
registrations, it is about "new active authors", which means that they
made more than 5 edits at the site. (As far as I am introduced, please
correct me if I am wrong.)

Do we have someone here who passed some basic course in statistics?
(As I think that there are someone), may that person draw the curve
based on Commons data [1] for:

* New authors
* Active authors
* Very active authors
* New articles per day
* Edits per month

I didn't tell that Commons is in significant decrease since August
2006 because it was just new authors-based. However, the number of new
authors per month for the period August 2006 -- May 2008 passed from
170 to 25 (btw, May 2008 is the second worst month at all, after the
second month of Commons existence). This is decrease for somewhat more
than 85%. But, to count just Mays: 2005: 157, 2006: 156, 2007: 113,
2008: 25. In percentages this is: -<1%, -17%, -77%. This is not
seasonal, this is about Mays.

Active authors and very active authors are in decrease, too. For the
last few years, the top for active authors was in May 2007 (688), the
bottom at December 2007 (472), while in May 2008 there were 537 active
authors. This is more than 20% decrease for one year. May 2006 was
better than May 2008 with 595 active contributors. So, we had raising
for 15% for one year and decreasing for more than 20% for another.

Very active users was on peak in April 2007 (34). So, here are similar
statistics for Mays: 2005: 25 (however, April, May and June 2005 were
not usual; something was happened then which attracted new
contributors and raised activity; surrounding months are giving that
conclusion), 2006: 21, 2007: 29, 2008: 21: so, -16%, +17%, -17%

It would be very dramatic if we lost 77% of very active contributors
for one year. But, loosing 17% of them for one year is a serious

Also, again, I didn't say that we are close to the bottom, I said that
we are in the middle of a serious crisis. We are too high to reach the
bottom quickly.

Note that decreasing the number of (very) active contributors is the
most conservative indicator. A person who is devoted to some project
-- is not willing to abandon it. However, it is natural that someone
changed their life, doesn't want to contribute at that place anymore
or so. To fill empty places we need much more new contributors. A lot
of new ones will finish their work on the project after the first or
the second month. Just small amount of them will stay at the project
for longer period of time. By loosing new contributors we are loosing
sustainability: "retired" contributors are not replaced with new ones.

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