How is it that there are over a thousand members registered on this forum, and yet over half of the posts ever made have been from five of them? Why do so many people sign up and then never post? I have been talking with Todd a little bit about trying to get more activity on the forum here, but there is only so much I can think of. So to the rest of you, if you are even still here, why don't you post more often? What are some ways that this forum could become a more interesting place?
It's a great question that you ask. As of today, the Getting Stronger forum has 1017 members, 101 topics, 1435 posts. It averages about 1000 page views per day. Similarly, the main Getting Stronger blog itself has 493 "subscribers" and about 500 views per day. More than 189,000 hits since I started the blog! So that makes it seem like active comment posters are the tiny tip of the iceberg, and most members are "lurkers", right?
But I'll let you in on a little-known fact that most people who don't run their own blogs and forums probably don't realize. The vast majority of "members" and "views" on all forums and blogs are of two types: (1) inadvertent search "hits" that missed their intended target; and (2) spammers. Most people landing on blogs and forums get there by searching for some topic, but leaving after an initial glance. They may have reached my blog by searching for "getting stronger", "insulin" or "Stoicism" and decided after a few moments or minutes that my blog was not what they were looking for. So they leave after that initial visit and never return. The vast majority of attempted "members" are actually spammers, believe it or not. Many spammers are spambots -- programs designed to place links to advertise their wares. I filter out about half of the spammers before they can even join, and the other half get blocked once they try posting something inappropriate, which I have to remove. My blog is not alone on this. Every blog out there has memberships and hits inflated by a factor of perhaps 10 times over "true" members. That's just a sad reality. Those who join as legitimate members may check back once or twice, then disappear forever. So if a blog has 1000 members, probably 900 of those are long gone, 80 check back occasionally, and the remaining 20 check in every week. If a blog has 100 times the traffic as mine, those ratios are still probably about the same.
Also, I do get a lot of private e-mail. For every one public post, I get 2 or 3 private e-mails. These are typically requests for advice from people who may be shy about sharing their situation publicly. They also letters of support, cheering me on or telling me how I've helped them in various ways. And a few turn into enjoyable correspondences. Which is all fine.
That said, I do have a real concern about the low activity on the forum these days. Many months ago it was much more active, involving not just a larger number of active participants, but a more engaged discussion. Some of the drop-off is natural. People explore an idea like plus lens therapy or intermittent fasting, and most find out that it is not for them. Not because it doesn't work, but because they were looking for a quick fix, or it doesn't meet their expectations. But I agree with you that the lack of activity makes the blog a less interesting place to hang out.
What I would like to see more of is real engagement, with extended discussions and debates. I see this on other "paleo" blogs, so I know it exists. What can we do to stimulate more participation here?
I sincerely welcome suggestions from any and all on how to stimulate more activity on the blog and forum. I recognize that one factor may be the relatively low frequency of my blog postings. Recently, I've managed to post only about once a month. (Although I managed two posts this month -- see my latest article today!). There are two main reasons for my relatively low output of new articles. One is that I have limited time in my busy schedule to write. The other is that I want each article to be original, thought-provoking and well researched. That takes time. Many blogs manage to post new articles every 2 or 3 days, but the articles are typically much shorter and "lighter". For some readers, one or two thoughtful articles each month may provide enough food for thought. But the most popular bloggers have admittedly far higher output than I do. There are some exceptional blogs, such as Stephan Guyenet's Whole Health Source and Mark Sisson's Daily Apple, which have both prodigious output and great research. But they are few and far between.
I'm willing to experiment and try a different style of blogging. I could probably post weekly articles that briefer, pithier, and less research-driven. Perhaps more conversational and chatty. Or they could be on narrower, practical topics. I could also post links to external blogs and articles that are relevant to my theme of hormesis and self-empowerment. It is also possible that my particular selection and balance of topics on the blog don't match that of my readers. Maybe most of you are hear for a single topic -- eyesight improvement or weight loss, so the breath of topics may dilute your interest. I would love to find out, however, that most of you like the variety.
I'm open to suggestions. Actually, I'm hungry for suggestions.
So let's hear it from the "silent majority" of you out there (other than the spammers and spambots).