Is it just a personal impression or after the implementation of the new layout on ELU traffic both in terms of question and answers is well below average? I realize it is just a few days but views on posts appear to be quite low. Can anybody who has access to analytic tools confirm or deny this slowdown?
Is it just a personal impression or after the implementation of the new layout on ELU traffic both in terms of question and answers is well below average?
The answer is “yes” but the decline didn't start this December, and it's not the fault of the new theme. This downward spiral had already begun sometime around 2015 and safe to say the introduction of the new theme hasn't helped matters.
I seized this SEDE query from Jon Ericson's ♦ post on Meta.
Link to query, Posts per month: https://data.stackexchange.com/english/query/941812/posts-per-month#graph
In reply to Laurel's “In order to help all the lazy 25k users out here…” it's important to note that it's not immediately obvious where these statistics are available. For the clueless 25k users out there, the stats can be found by clicking on REVIEW QUEUES then “tools”, which is written teeny-tiny at the top right-hand corner, then scroll down the page until you reach a list of links, click where it says site analytics. Why these statistics are hidden behind "tools" is anyone's guess but I'm sure there is a logical explanation.
For those users who do not have this privilege, I have taken the liberty of uploading a few screenshots. The first graph shows the number of questions and answers posted between January 1, 2014, and December 30, 2018.
The second graph should also display the number of views during the same period but the data shown is limited between February 05, 2018 and December 30, 2018. Again I'm sure there is a logical explanation but I don't know what it is. In the week starting November 26, 2018, the number of views peaked at 3,201,406. For the week starting December 24, the number of views has dropped to 1,987,245.
The answer, if we're going by raw numbers, is pretty clearly: NO, the stats don't show numbers dropping recently.
In order to help all the lazy 25k users out here is a link to the site analytics.
Views follow a pretty steady pattern: Fridays always have the fewest visits, Sunday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday have the most, and the other days are somewhere in between. Neither the hills nor the valleys seem to have trended either way since summer nor since the new left nav was introduced.
The data for how many posts we get is far more chaotic. However, since the start of December, the number of answers has been trending upwards. The number of questions isn't doing bad either. In any case, both of these are within the range I'd expect them to be.
The real problem is how many questions are closed.
51%. 54%. Those are the percentages of questions asked here that were closed for 2016 and 2017 respectively. How long has this been a problem? What will the numbers be for 2018? Everyone with 10k should be able to see this page, which only shows the numbers for up to the last 90 days. (As of the time of posting, the close percent for the last 90 days is 37.76%, but it's higher than that if you look at shorter frames.)
In any case, we need some solutions for this problem. Ones that will actually be done and have an effect. And apparently we needed them before I even joined this site (i.e. in 2016).
Here are two of my ideas that I think are worth highlighting:
- Warn people of the rules for [Single-Word-Requests] before posting. Please vote on the answers or post your own!!! If this goes well for swr, it could be effective for other tags.
- Can the advice page be customizable on each site? This idea I feel is currently severely underrated. I will hopefully eventually get around to reposting this as a question on Meta ELU, and maybe some other child metas where this would be handy so that I get the maximum support.
I think the "English language" topic is just mismatched with the question-and-answer format, so it's probably not something that can be fixed.
People go to the programming-related SE sites because they are stuck with something at work or on a project. At those sites the banal questions are cherished because they are the locus for authoritative answers to common problems. The top contributors tend to be professional programmers, including consultants who use their contributions as a kind of portfolio showing off their knowledge base.
There are some other sites (board games, movie trivia, whatever), where all the users just like to spend time discussing their hobby. They won't ever reach the traffic of the programming sites because they don't touch on common problems. But that's not a concern because the sites provide an online community in the more traditional sense. The questions tend to be subjective and it's not too crucial which answer gets accepted, but the format works reasonably well. I doubt anyone is using the sites for personal gain.
Finally, there are the topics that have both enthusiasts and casual users with practical problems. Let's take things like Cooking and English language as examples. Yes, there is such a thing as a professional chef or restaurateurs; and there are English professors and linguists, but the site experts very often do something other than Cooking or English for a living. The site doesn't help their careers, so they don't get much out of answering noob questions. The people with practical problems tend to be people who are learning English, or people who don't know which kind of onion to buy. Their questions often don't interest the experts. In fact, the moderators have been actively trying to drive them away by making unreasonable demands on question quality.
I don't think SE works well for the third category of topics: you can't incentivize the skilled people to provide free advice like in the first category, and the Q&A format doesn't facilitate useful discussion between experts, like in the second category.