Signs of the LGF Decline: Unique CommentersPosted: June 18, 2012
In the past, the talented Engineers here in the Boiler Room have used the LGF archive files to compile statistics for the site’s nose-diving commenting and registration rates, and just recently the steadily decreasing amount of front page content. Today, we’re going to track another compelling sign of the LGF decline: The reduction in unique commenters.
Now, by “unique commenters” we’re referring to the number of individual user accounts that are leaving at least one comment over a certain time period. This is probably the most efficient way to determine the overall size of the site’s active community. When we have Engineer No. 5 track these statistics through the last few years, we’ll have to say that what we see isn’t exactly surprising, but nevertheless a bit shocking:
The graph basically begins around the time of the election of Barack Obama, and from there the rate descends rapidly until around the time that Johnson officially declared his “parting ways” (Nov. 30, ’09). This was the period of what most ex-LGFers refer to as the “Great Purge”, as evidenced by the high rate of public bannings and (presumably) departures of many of the long-time Lizards.
Again, this isn’t that surprising, as our previous work supports this, but what’s really worth noting is the portion of the graph that begins after Johnson’s Great Switcheroo to the left was complete. We presume that Charles was hoping that the exodus of the “righty” lizards would be followed by an influx of “lefty” newcomers, and eventually bring the size of the community back (or at least closer) to where it once was. But what we see here is quite the opposite; the active community steadily continues to shrink.
We had Engineer No. 5 take a closer look and give us a breakdown, using a month when LGF was closer to it’s “peak” (Feb. ’09), compared to last month (May, ’12):
Now that puts the shrinkage into some serious perspective. As you can see on the Feb ’09 side, you have to scroll down to #9 to find a top contributor that hasn’t been banned, and at a glance, only Gus has stepped up his contributions from those days. And although the average posts per active commenter has increased a bit, the size of the active community is a mere ~12% of what it was just a few years ago, and the total comment count shrunk to ~19%.