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Is it just me or is PF dying?

  1. Sep 11, 2015 #1
    Go ahead and look at my profile, I've been around here for over 10+ years. Increasingly I find myself checking PF less and less. We've lost wildly popular and famous posters over the years. Why is this happening? Is it just me or does there seem to be less and less traffic on PF? I remember when the general forum (and many other subforums) used to have almost all new threads on the first page within a day or two, now there are still threads from Aug. on the 1st page and almost as many locked threads as ones still open.

    I dunno, but personally I've found this place often times becoming too abrasive and too toxic. Sure noobs will come here often asking stupid questions or things that will annoy some users, but why is there the need to close threads and give a verbal smack down? How can PF continue to expect to compete with a site like Reddit or Stack Exchange, which have science sections that are much, much more hands off with posts, and have discussions that are pretty much on par in terms of quality? I mean if a thread or discussion annoys or bothers you, why not just ignore it instead of locking it? As a long time member, lurker, and poster here, I just feel like rule with the iron fist is backfiring (and this is where I expect the deluge of posts from the PF upper echelon members to start giving responses tantamount to something like 'rules are rules, if you don't like it you can leave or be banned'). I'm sure I've made bad, dumb, stupid, moronic, and immature posts over the years from when I was younger and less trained in science, but if I got some of the responses to some of my posts then as what I see posted now, I would definitely be rubbed the wrong way and would never return to this place ever again or would be discouraged from even making a new account if I were a lurker. What can be done to improve traffic, thread creation, and discussion volume and for more people to check this place more often? I don't want to sound like a hate or anything, but I mean come on, it only takes 2 seconds to check what the webtraffic and the global website ranking history has been over the years and it has steadily declined.

    My $.02.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2015 #2


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    PF is trying to "compete" with Redditt??

    Redditt has discussions pretty much "on par" in terms of quality??

    I think I'll need more than your 2c to believe that. In fact, you refute that with your own words, telling us that they are hands-off.

    I don't get your whole post. From where I stand you're looking in an apple cart, hoping for orange peels.

    Do you read Nat Geo expecting it's trying to compete with Fox News?
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  4. Sep 11, 2015 #3


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    Forum Statistics
    Message traffic is ~ 1k/d, which jibes with 10 + years.
  5. Sep 11, 2015 #4
    You raise some actually very complex and difficult questions which on the surface may seem simple but they are not. These issues are also topics I/staff think/talk about and strategize for on a daily basis. But first off PF is not dying. In fact our Insights section is attracting a lot of new positive attention.

    How come?

    People come, people go. This is the nature of life. I've contacted a host of old favorites and they all told me they just moved on with their interests or lost free time. Not one told me anything negative about PF. Every year we lose some good members, but we always seem to replenish.

    This is true, but it's not so simple. There are so many factors, many not in our control. For about the first 8 years we increased traffic year after year. Then in 2012 traffic absolutely exploded because Google suddenly favored us greatly. Then in 2013 traffic plummeted because Google put out a silent "User Generated Content" penalty along with Panda and Penguin penalties that PF got damaged by. I have worked literally thousands of hours to correct these problems that are mostly inherent in forum software. PF generates 70% of its traffic from Google. So whatever wind is blowing from Google which we have no control of, affects PF greatly.

    Another factor is that forums in general have peaked and are on the decline as a market. There are so many social media sites and competitors for visitors to choose. PF is not longer the only option or only good option.

    If you look at Google trends you'll find that science topic searching is on the decline.

    Mobile is also changing the game. Members don't power use the site as much because it's not so easy on a mobile phone. It's quick hit and runs.

    Staff has worked very hard to make PF as attractive as can be for new and regular members. We are constantly planning for the future.

    Staff is aware of this perception and we are working on ways to soften this image.

    If you find an action by staff as problematic please report it, let us know. We want PF to have high quality standards but friendly at the same time. It's not always easy to achieve.

    PF will never be able to compete with sites that have hundreds of millions of investor funds. Given our very limited budget it's absolutely amazing how well we've done. Reddit is not exactly a beacon of quality many times. SE is certainly a competitor we watch closely, but it's also Q&A whereas PF is a discussion community.

    Reddit is free-for-all mostly, but SE is highly moderated and has strict quality guidelines.

    We try not to act on personal bias unless it's supported by other's opinions. If someone is being disruptive and lowering discussion fun and quality then we should act. Content quality creates our community image. These discussions are not free-for-all anything goes. We want to be a place that people trust and respect. We have a duty to make sure our discussions are reasonably high quality.

    These are million dollar questions. Let's start with you. What would make you visit and participate more often?
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2015
  6. Sep 12, 2015 #5


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    I looked. You're member no. 10355. There are older members here that don't get the perception that PF is dying. Well, me for one anyway.
  7. Sep 13, 2015 #6
    I share somewhat similar opinion with the OP. I wouldn't say it is dying, but has definitely lost the mojo I felt few years back. It is possible that when I joined PF, I had lots of physics questions, and all of them got either answered, or realized that it needs much more physics/math background than I have. So I visit only the GD section now a days.

    Couple things that I'm not happy about PF is that
    1. The GD sections gets too US centric. I used to think it is very natural that way, since a majority of the GD participants are in the US. But I realized it is not true with some other forums with a very similar geographic distribution. I frequent some of the value investment forums where most members are from US and Canada. I felt those forums are more international and I liked it. Being a physics curious and passionalte about the universe, cosmic connections, I was expecting PF would be more global (like the Carl Sagan view), but I see more silly nationalistic bias with (some) moderators. A couple of my within-context posts were deleted anonimously without any reason, since it was not in favor of US international policies. I doubt the same action would be taken by the moderator if I made similar comments about Iran or North Korea.

    2. The Politics section gets too heated for a supposed to be matured group.
  8. Sep 13, 2015 #7


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    You do know that this is like complaining about a huge shopping mall because you don't like the sinks in the bathrooms, don't you?

  9. Sep 13, 2015 #8
    I think all of these are known problems, but they're tough to fix. For the same reasons as yours, I just stay out of politics.
  10. Sep 13, 2015 #9
    Ha ha, I liked the analogy. The reason why I limited my PF visit only to GD section was not mentioned as a complaint, it was an explanation for why my feedback is only specific about the GD section, not about the entire PF.

    As a general comment about this thread,
    Gravenworld was a 10+ year member here, and instead of silently disappearing as many did, he opted to express his opinion. I think PF should be thankful for that, for however incorrect he or she is. This is equivalent to the exit interview in the corporations. A good HR exit interviewer would not try to convince how the employee is wrong by giving him the statistics, they try to encourage the employee to speak up to collect as much feedback as possible.
  11. Sep 13, 2015 #10
    We are always thankful for feedback. For the past few years we've held a yearly survey where we encourage members to be honest about our problems. The staff is dedicated towards improving PF in all aspects. The changing dynamics of internet culture and technology make the future of PF a challenging task, but exciting as well!
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  12. Sep 13, 2015 #11


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    Greg is from Wisconsin, and a Badger fan. It ain't the UN.
    "... and the kitchen."
    Greg's house --- Greg's rules, or those of his Mods --- there are things that just do not work in this forum --- they've been tried, some several times, and not been worth the headaches.

    200k members, ~ 5M posts is 25 posts/member --- cater to "drive-by" posters and internet graffiti, or to the several thousands of regulars who're willing to accept a certain amount of impressed order to have a reasonably reliable resource for established information?
  13. Sep 13, 2015 #12
    In a very real way the rules have been developed through the years by staff and advisors using the existing PF culture as inspiration. So it's not as if it's one person from the start at the top of a mountain dictating rules like the ten commandments. It's been a never ending process of refinement with dozens off contributors over a span of 14+ years all with similar goals of civility, productivity and quality.
  14. Sep 13, 2015 #13
    Somewhat agree. I've seen many posts that were obvious ignorant questions smacked down pretty hard with something like "Utter nonsense. Thread locked." Are we afraid of trolls or something?
  15. Sep 13, 2015 #14


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    Trolls, crackpots and endless discussions that help no one. See the rules about personal theories. Discussing them just does not help.
  16. Sep 13, 2015 #15
    In the past I faced a problem of post being/started topic topic being removed for being too speculative. (I was annoyed, but I understand reasons why mods dislike such speculative / soft sciences questions). However speaking, I regularly utter blasphemies against official American ideologies and haven't faced any problems because of it.

    There is active topic about ME conflict, refugee crisis in the EU and Russian aggression on Ukraine, so the international character is more or less preserved.

    Politics? Mature??? ;) May you specify what exactly you request?
  17. Sep 13, 2015 #16


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    [QUOTE = <Snip>

    2. The Politics section gets too heated for a supposed to be matured group.[/QUOTE]

    It is amazingly civil compared to any other site I have been to. And people who frequent it are smart, well-informed for the most part. My only complaint about PF is that it often makes the "Real World" boring by comparison, full of opinionated, poorly-informed big mouths. But yes, we can all, including myself can be more open-minded and willing to have our views challenged. Inst this true of anything?
  18. Sep 13, 2015 #17


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    Well, not afraid per se, but they are very bad for business.
    They are very prolific in their writing and clutter up forums.
    They drive away quality posters.

    PF had battled with them for many years. It was not until they got really tough with trolls and crackpots that PF returned to being taken seriously by professionals.
    There are plenn-tee of fora out there that tolerate/cater to some of the more, shall we say, pseudo-scientific types. And inevitably, those fora are dominated by crack-pottery. It's a positive feedback loop.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  19. Sep 13, 2015 #18
    Since finding PF, I never visit SE or others.

    After 10+ years on any forum you should have seen it all. Not sure why anyone would think it should be as interesting after all that time.
  20. Sep 13, 2015 #19


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    That is often not possible when you are instantly and "permanently" banned as has happened to me a couple of times. I have left for extended periods, particularly when "banned" and I may well go again. I find PF to be way to PC!
  21. Sep 13, 2015 #20


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    Then wouldn't it behoove you to go to a forum where they cater to your tastes?

    Why do you come here? Is it perhaps because it has achieved a high quality of content? Do you not think these things are related?
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