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Why do websites post membership numbers and postings on the opening page?

1883 Views 23 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Quixote
Why do webstes keep membership lists or more importantly, why do they display the number of members and postings on the headers?
To me it's like counting the number of people going in and out of a retail store.
Many are shoppers and part of that number are buyers.

So it is with forums many are browsers and few are posters.

The other thing that fascinates me is the keeping of "posting" numbers that so many times includes thing like " I agree with Tom " "welcome to the forum" etc..
They are no more vaulable than a partial score at a hockey game. *

I think it has to do with the way the advertising world evaluates business opportunites for potential clients.

The more members, the more postings, the more traffic.

This helps sell advertizing space.
The fact that they keep my registraton active for years despite my single visit is a distortion of facts about the site.
Maybe these lists should be culled after a period of inactivity - (say 2 years)

I am usually wary that on visiting a website where the software wants a registration prior to getting a good look at the content.

Perhaps for business purposes, the advertiser should ask for the number of registrants that have posted anything in the last 6,12, 18 months or the like. *
Right now the figures are misleading and unreliable.
Some marginal commercial websites use the registration device to try to boost their sagging memberships by offering contests and the like.

From my perspective they might be better served if they invested in people friendly software and better content rather than just simply collecting memberships.

What are your feelings about this?

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Gman, you need a concensus of opinion before proceeding to another level.
The comment was not directed specifically at this forum but rather at those who seem to continously solicit memberships via links and or contests etc. to lure folks over to their camps.

Trojan horses if you like.

You are right I also see some that are using the Forum "coffee lounge" only for their own comments and don't have any other input in projects, review, or blog. Comments sometime to their own advantage only.
Bob, I think it's a bit more complex than that. if you have those sites purge lists after X amount of years, they run into the risk of people sueing them for removing their accounts… people are sue happy, esp. in the US. this would get many people that are looking for the opportunity to get rich fast the case to try and do so.

I do agree though that those numbers are not 100% precise. but since the entire industry is using similar counting methods, then comparing between website A, and website B is somewhat balanced and provides a reasonable input.

Another thing to consider is that for marketing purposes, it doesn't really matter the content of the posts, but the fact that there are people that visit the site, and actually participate in it - meaning that they are active on it - that's enough for the sellers… they don't really care if you really know how to dovetail, or how to choose the proper soil for fruit trees… they only need to know that you are active on the page to be able to see their ad.
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Sharon, You can let your library card lapse, your dirivers license, why not your website membership?

I am still questioning wether those figures fairly represent anything?

just sayin.. <g>

To go along with Purplev's train of thought, it's like the Sunday paper when all those advertisements in them. The stores that pay do not care if you really read their on sale items but that you see their name and that name sticks in your head. I bet you can, without looking, know who has a flier in your paper this week. It's advertising and that means money and that means sites like this one can pay for all the costs it entails and let it be free for the members. There are little web sites all over the web but they don't last because they are more or less a labor of love until time takes its toll and the webmaster looses their drive.
Bob, while the number of posts does reflect active participation and is a good measure for marketing, it does not reflex the number of "eyes" that view the site and thus becomes a measure of exposure which is even more valuable because it generates the difficult to measure word of mouth.

The testimonial of many members here is that they lurk for a while before they ever post. And, I'm willing to wager that there are many who do nothing but lurk; gathering information and going about their business. I've periodically checked who is online at various times during the day and regularly found people who are members for months with minimal posts. While posting is good for advertisers, it's not the whole story.

At least that's my understanding of "web-vertising".
I agree with Russel's observation.
A prime example is a friend that has been visiting this site long before me. He never registered until about a year ago, but has never posted a project, made a post or comment etc.
He visits lumberjocks everyday at lunch time from his desk at work.
If I understand you guys correctly you are saying that a person can lurk here for long periods of time and not have to make a posting?
That's pretty much a given from my perspective.
In other words, could a person "lurk" without having to register?

I still wonder what registration does other than generate numbers???

I thought that registering gave you the opportunity among other things to post?
Generally, the ad business is pretty much tied to the circulation of the medium.
I guess I'm trying to get a handle on just how many registrants actually use the facility for lurking .
I would think that the number of hits on a site would be a bit more accurate.
Bob.. just a quick reply to your last comment (I will try to add more details later).

I still wonder what registration does other than generate numbers???
I thought that registering gave you the opportunity among other things to post?

As a registered member you can start watching any post that interests you and get notified about updates, you can add other members to your buddies and get notified about their activities etc. There is much more to membership than just posting.
Thanks Martin.
That's where I was trying to lead this conversation.

Would you agree that members that just register here to use the site as a platform to steer members elswhere is a good or bad thing?
Or, perhaps it doesn't matter.

as Martin said - being a registered member lets you be a part of the activity, whether you are active yourself or passive - you can still be involved.

as for the occasional registered user that will add a link to another site in each of his postings (as seen lately) I can't tell if it's good or bad, in a way - it's good since this is an opportunity to enlarge the circle, and add more content than LJ alone can hold. but this can also cross the line and take a negative light if people try to stir member away and to a different site. I guess it depends on the individual case. With that in mind - I think that going back to "numbers" and a member collection as a whole, people spend time on a certain site because they have a certain connection to it, and if that connection is strong and valid, then they won't be pushed off of it, and those that do -maybe are not really that connected to it to begin with - which goes back to the 'numbers', and the "real" number of reistered members
I am not speaking for L/J's…...but the main reason for showing member numbers is for advertising. I helped run a MMA forum for a long time…not as a mod but a Admin, behind the scenes…building it, programing etc etc etc. And running a forum cost $$$$. There are several programs out there that show the actual number of "Hits" a forum will get in a day….and for every member a forum has, active or not…there are literally 1000's of non member hits each day.

The more hit's a forum gets on a daily basis…the farther up the list it moves when a person uses a search engine like google. I found L/J's by looking for reviews over a Grizzly Jointer…..L/J's was right there in the top three of the page….and like most people…I only scan the top few listings on a search engine…I hardly ever go all the way down the page…and NEVER to the second page.

So if I was a advertiser wanting to sale some new tool I was pushing…I am going to pay for advertising space with the forum that has the most members and mainly the most foot traffic. And by showing your members….it is a quick reference as to how many hits the forum gets…if it has 10,000 members…it tells me the advertiser this site gets hundreds of thousands of hits.

As already said….there are many forums out there that are just labors of love for their cerator….over every subject you can imagine…but running a forum is TONS of work..and as I said…not a cheap hobby. Most just kind of dry up and die. But if a forum is ran right, has the proper rules, attracts the right kind of members…it develops a "reputation" on the web as a place that welcomes new members, does not "Flame" dumb questions etc etc etc…word of mouth spreads…and it attracts more and more members…those are the kind big advertisers want to pay to be on.

The more money the forum makes..the more programs it can buy making it even better, and the more "Space" in can afford to buy to expand with the servers who run it for you.

Forums can even become a business it self….While the forum I helped run…is one of the biggest forums on the web (Number of members on at a time have been over 30,000) the biggest MMA forum is a place called "Sherdog" grew so much, it actually has its own paid reporters that go to MMA fights. ESPN is finally covering the sport of MMA…instead of starting there own mma site with reporters etc…they hired "Sherdog" and became partners….if you go to ESPN sports on line…and click on MMA… 90% of everything they have and report is straight from Sherdog MMA Forum. Sherdog is now actually worth over a "MILLION" dollars.

Silly example here…but if you had some amazing new tool to sale….would you try to get it sold through "Sears" or a local hardware store ? Sears of course…because it will have 1000's more people walking by it on a daily basis in each store nation wide… Vs. the local hardware store that may have a 100 people a day come in.
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try googling

dan walters woodworker
dan walters tile

lumberjocks has put us all at the top of the internet mountain

I found out about lj's from a one line sentence in a woodworking magazine
So, the question becomes, if the number of hits determines the value of a site to advertisers then does it follow that the content of the site must be of some value to the lurker, visitor or active member?

What happens if/when the most prolific posters get overwhelmed and stop posting or simply move on?
hand in the bucket of water theory of relativity … figure eventually we will all end up on the pages someday
What happens if/when the most prolific posters get overwhelmed and stop posting or simply move on?

By the time they lose interest or move on….the work is already done. The forum is already at the top of the search engine…and people click on it. For advertisers…it does not matter that they are really members or not….as long as they click on the site to look…they get to see the advertisement.

And as long as people just click on the site…that counts as a hit…keeping the forum at the top of the search engine.
Would you agree that members that just register here to use the site as a platform to steer members elsewhere is a good or bad thing?

Bob i agree , It is pretty obvious when someone is leading you to another forum for a contest or whatever , it is because that forum is going down the crapper and they are clearly desperate to get members and or votes . It really is a sad sight to see :)
John and Bob….That is very true. On our MMA Site…we had that problem all the time…other forums trying to cash in on our success and steer members over to their site.

We had/have a great bunch of mods over there….when we came across a "New" member trying to steal our members…and advertising their sites on ours….we would send them a warning through a pm telling them to knock it off. If they didn't…they were banned.
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