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We have a posting inequality problem

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  • We have a posting inequality problem

    Very short version: Regarding inequality between number of posts vs. number of users, we have a Gini coefficient of 0.936.

    Less technical but still short version: 1 percent of our members (23 members) produce 50 percent of our posts.

    Long version:

    Too few people are producing too many posts. I created a Lorenz curve for the forum posts vs. forum members. For those of you not familiar with them, in a Lorenz curve, users are lined up from fewest posts to most posts (2275 members from 0 to 802 posts). On the vertical axis, the cumulative number of posts by all users with fewer posts is graphed. Obviously, zero users produce zero posts and 100 percent of users produce 100 percent of posts, so the nontrivial part happens in the middle.

    I've included the graph of the Lorenz curve with this post (first image). Now would probably be a good time to look at it. The blue line represents perfect equality-- everyone posts exactly as much as everyone else. The red line represents the reality of our forum. As you can see, we're nowhere close to the blue line.

    To boil this information down to an even more digestible piece of information, we have the Gini coefficient. This is the area between the red and blue lines as a fraction of the area under the blue line. I calculated the Gini coefficient and found that it is 0.936, indicating high inequality.

    Before I address objections on idealistic grounds, I'd like to address one objection I foresee on technical grounds: there are a lot of users with zero posts. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt that they have some amount of interest in our forum but are shy about posting. Nevertheless, I'll acknowledge that there are lurkers, duplicate accounts, and bot accounts and so maybe on some grounds, the people who haven't posted anything don't deserve to be included in this analysis. So I did a second analysis that excluded them. This second Lorenz curve is also included with this post (second image).

    We have 614 users with at least one post. Even with this reduced dataset, we have a Gini coefficient of 0.763, still indicating high inequality. In less technical terms, we still have just 4 percent of our members (25 members) producing over 50 percent of our posts.

    Why should we care?

    I see this forum as one of the main hubs for intactivism. When people are interested in learning about the movement and/or are considering becoming active, this is one of the first places they'll go to. Currently, we're on the third page of Google results, but I suspect we'll climb as our numbers grow.

    When so few members are posting so much, their particular views and agendas will naturally bubble to the surface. This is not a specific critique of their views, but rather merely pointing out that they are overrepresented.

    (I'll also take the time to mention that I've included our admins in this analysis. There may be good reason to exclude them because they play an active role in maintaining the forum and naturally tend to post more. If I had excluded them and their posts, it likely would have exhibited even worse posting inequality.)

    I think there is good reason to not strive for perfect equality in our discussion, in which every member posts exactly as much as every other member and our Gini coefficient is zero. Not only is that unrealistic, it would leave newcomers disoriented and might hurt our cause as we would have no semblance of a unified voice.

    However, I hope that in reading this, you've found the level of inequality shocking. We could strip away 99 percent of our members and lose only half of our content here. That's very troubling.

    I'm not offering a solution to this problem. I don't wish to silence anyone. Having said that, I would like the admins to consider this problem and, as members, I encourage most people here to post more and those of us who post most frequently should consider abstaining from some discussion as a courtesy to others.

  • #2
    Frankly my dear…I don't give a dam!


    • #3
      Well, my experience in forums like this, even on different subjects, photography, boating, is that a few are active, most happy to observe. This isn't for instance a face to face meet up, where it is easier to participate and group events that are specifically for participation occur. Even at that, there typically are only a few members in face to face meetings that do the bulk of the organizing.

      I think everyone should be happy to participate at their own speed. Most may lurk, but if that is there comfort level or state of interest in the topics that arise, no worries. I do not see that as a "problem", but as the typical landscape to be expected.

      My understanding of why you feel this is a problem to be addressed is that you feel it becomes harder for activists to learn and become part of the activist movement, and the information on here will be biased, is that correct?

      Regarding activism, I think this may not be the best tool for fostering that. The focus is restoration, and to foster activism, I suggest a better tool would be a group like Intact America.

      Regarding bias, I think that just needs to be recognized. It is hard to reduce bias in a forum like this, unless a way is found to bring more into the conversation.

      Finally, to get more to post and participate, I have no answer other than to create a welcoming environment that makes people feel safe to participate, and to hope that results in more posting by more participants.

      Interesting analysis, but not surprising. Another forum on restoration that I participate has a list of the top ten posters over some time period. The members on the list, and the order do not change very much.



      • #4
        Dammit info can't you let anything slide…..


        • #5


          • #6
            One possible reason users might register is that only members have access to the Progress Galleries section of the board. I assume there are many visitors to the site who would be curious to read about people's restoration experiences and progress, but who don't have anything to ask or add to discussions in other forums.

            Another is just to come here and ask a single question. People don't always feel the need to stick around and ask more, or reply to other people's posts.

            Yet another is for spamming purposes. Whether accounts are created by bots or actual human beings, some don't get around to posting any messages (and subsequently getting banned), so the accounts remain with 0 posts.


            • #7
              Originally posted by z726 View Post
              Yet another is for spamming purposes. Whether accounts are created by bots or actual human beings, some don't get around to posting any messages (and subsequently getting banned), so the accounts remain with 0 posts.
              You'll see I accounted for this in my original post. Your other two points are potentially valid, but it would be difficult to determine to what extent they affect posting rates.


              • #8

                I have to admit that this will probably be my fist and last post.

                I check the forums regularly for information. I find the personal progress blogs an exceptional place to increase my knowledge. This is the main reason I joined. Mjwise is my hero!

                I don't mean any offence to anyone. Due to the anonimity of the internet, from my experiences, people aren't afraid to offend.

                Please dont deny accounts access because they aren't posting.

                Many thanks for reading.


                • #9
                  Honestly not everyone is comfortable discussing. Most are here just as a resource I would bet.
                  Started CI-0 with no movable skin and 0% FEC

                  Currently at CI-4 with 64% FEC

                  See my progress gallery