Member Rara Avis
I think Karen is right; there isn't enough data to reach any useful conclusions. Additionally, as presented, I think the data is also misleading. I suspect if outliers were removed, as is common in statistical studies of this nature, the line would probably flatten considerably.
Indeed, I think an exploration of those outliers would perhaps reveal some important clues about cause and effect. If I wanted to, I'm confident I could reverse the trend in Ed's chart with a single move. All I would have to do is close down Registrations again.
In February, 2004, I closed forum registrations to new Members because I felt we didn't have enough staff available to effectively deal with the problems new Members were bringing with them, and I would not sacrifice quality in the name of quantity. Over the remainder of 2004 and most of 2005, I would open the flood gates only sporadically and as soon as it seemed our Moderators were stressing, I would close them again. During the 21 months from February 2004 through October 2005, we allowed only 303 people to join as new Members.
Why is this pertinent? Because new Members are in large part responsible for one side of the outliers represented in Ed's chart. Almost half of all new Members come in, post a slew of poems, then depart without ever discovering that participation is the key to success in any forum. They leave very few comments in their wake and, because they posted a bunch of poems back to back, their own poetry similarly receives far fewer comments. They create a lot of outliers that skew the graph.
For most of two years, the line in Ed's graph was relatively flat because the outliers weren't allowed to join. In November, 2005, however, a lot of software was revamped, including a whole new Registration system, and we again opened the doors to new Members. In the past ten months, 1201 new Members have joined, once again creating a lot of new outliers. It's not surprising the line dipped so much as it is that it didn't dip a lot more. I haven't looked in a long time, but our "active" roster (those actually posting in any given month) typically runs between 300 to 500 people -- so 120 new people a month is a pretty large percentage.
Of course, even there, virtually NONE of my data could ever be forced to correspond with Ed's. How many of 1201 new Members posted in Teen or Dark and never even visited an Open forum to skew the numbers? I don't know. I no longer track a lot of data (even though I'm a compulsive counter), but what I do track is organized by dates, not by Open Forum numbers.
PS As for what it means for PIP, all I can say is that a smaller number of Open responses, possibly means lets hits? less members? less activity? less viability? - time to change tack a little Ron?
I think I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that, T.
* 2006, of course, represents only the first nine months of the year. Our stats, by the way, are open to the public; just click on the graphical icon at the bottom of any page.
*** Off topic ***
I just didn't particularly like the psychology of a business (marketing) that studies people and discovers ways to make them feel bad about their life.
People already feel bad about their lives, Karen. You know that.
The 5 P's of good marketing starts with Product, which should ideally be the solution to a problem rather than the invention of a problem. Like everything else invented by man, marketing can and will be subverted, but that should be blamed on the people not the discipline.
Writers are marketers. As is any woman who uses lipstick or eye liner.