08 November 2005

Measuring the success of your board

There's no consensus in the biz as to precisely what stats show the quality and healthiness of your board. In this post we'll be looking at what some of these stats - you're welcome of course to suggest your own by commenting below.

Let's start with the basics:
  • Postcount - the quick and easy stat, show on the index page of almost every board. A postcount of over 500,000 entitles you to inclusion into big-boards.com - Pros: easy stat, and a good indicator of the quantity of content on the site. Cons: An old board will have loads of posts - that doesn't mean they're recent, or good quality, or made by lots of members. Just because you see a big postcount, don't think a board is better than a smaller one, which for all you know has more members actively posting, and might be full of better quality posts. There's no telling how many of those posts are spam or crappy forum games like '3 word story'!
  • Member count - again, same pros/cons - an old site is more likely to have more members, but without looking deeper you might be admiring a site which does well in the search engines and has a nice skin, or gets people to sign up to get a gift of some sort, and hardly ever post or even return once they've signed up.
What about some other handy, general stats of the site:
  • Age of the site - you need to bear this in mind when looking at the two stats I've already mentioned. But old age is also a good thing in many cases: it demonstrates that a board has been around for a while, so is reliable and in good hands, and hasn't been forced to close because of inactivity or getting overwhelmed with spam. An old forum (assuming it's still active, not just a web skeleton) is most probably in good hands, so has high chances of being a good quality community.
  • Pagerank - Google PR may be totally irrelevant to the value of a site and a shite indicator of how it'll do in the search engines, it's still a good quick indicator of the number and popularity of the sites linking to it - a high PR will usually mean people are finding this forum interesting and good quality, so are linking to it.
  • Registrations per day - this is a rough measure of a combination of two things - how easily people are finding their way to your site (via Google, a link on another page, whatever), and how tempted they are to sign up (that's affected primarily by what they see, since they usually won't have had a chance to post yet) - i.e. how attractive the site looks, how easy it is to register, how obvious it is that the visitor would be better of signing up... etc.
  • Posts per day - I've never really like this particular site metric, for (one of) the reasons Postcount isn't a good stat either - these posts could all be from a core group of hardcore posters posting absolute shite, with nobody else involved, or it could be the ideal situation, loads of members posting on your site. Make sure you check out the Top #10 posters that day to get a sense of perspective - how many of today's posts were made by these guys? As a rough rule of thumb, the smaller the fraction of today's posts made by these 10, the healthier your community. If, as well as that low ratio, the board has a high posts per day average, you know you've got a big, healthy site.
  • Threads per day - I really like this stat, probably irrationally so. For me, any pair of jokers can hijack an existing thread and post loads of crap in it, making the board look busy. What doesn't normally happen though is postwhores going around creating new topics - that normally involves a bit more originality and brainpower than they're used to. Again, as with all stats, take this advice with a pinch of salt: topics per day is a good stat o determine the activity+health of a board, just so long as the other tests also throw up the same conclusions, else you might be prompted to investigate why lots of people create topics, but the other stats show the site to not be very active.
In Part 2, we'll look at what the telltale signs of success, failure, good or bad quality are for your actual community


Anonymous Admin-Lounge said...

Great tips.

Sending out newsletter filled with news, contest info, few facts, and other things would also be great idea.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 4:36:00 am  

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