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"A sense of virtual community often develops around forums that have regular users." WikipediaOver the last two years I have annually recorded various internet forums, monitoring the user growth, thread count and active posts numbers. You can read the 2011 and 2012 overland forum stats via previous blog posts.
In this post, I summarize the numbers from February 2013 to January 2014.
Registered User Growth
Expedition Portal, once again, tipped the user growth percentages from 2013 to 2014. The emphasis on fresh content on the home page of Expedition Portal is clearly having benefits of attracting new users to the forum.
ThreadsNew Threads or Topics are very important, as is fresh content. Majority of the websites had a good boost of new threads. IH8Mud archives old content whilst Horizons Unlimited launched a new website resulting in number of threads declining.
PostsIn my opinion, this is the critical factor on forums - when a new thread is created, will it get a response? The likelihood of getting a response on ADVrider is very good with an average of 32 responses per thread! New members, according to old forum members, often ask duplicate or very basic questions but to the new user, they feel accepted if they get a response. This is critical in keeping forums active and the members engaged. Plus it makes the original thread owner feel that the content he is contributing is important.
Thread response has increased throughout the year with a clear winner being Horizons Unlimited. The HUBB had a major post decline in 2012 but a fresh website and a clearout of old threads, the website has given the users an emphasis to respond to new threads (in my opinion).
Alexa Web TrafficWebsite popularity, especially on search engines, affects Alexa world wide rankings. A few websites gained worldwide popularity whilst a few dropped in the overall rankings.
Social MediaSurprisingly not many of the forums had links to Facebook or Twitter. The few of the websites that did, had impressive growth throughout 2013 with many of the sites doubling the number of likes and followers.
ConclusionThe need for information and the desire to share information will always continue and as a result, overland travel forums will continue to thrive. The more media attention, the more it encourages individuals to explore the concept of overland travel.
I expect the big forums to continue the focus on Social Media, and as a result drive up the membership and member contributions.
What was your 2013 forum experience like? Good, welcoming, insightful or other?