A few days ago, Siobhan McKeown published a graphic on Twitter that shows sign ups to the WordPress.org support forums between 2005 and 2014. Notice the huge increase in registrations between 2009 and 2010.
I asked McKeown what could account for the surge and she believes it’s the release of WordPress 3.0. WordPress 3.0 was released on June 17, 2010 and was a blockbuster release. For the first time, WordPress Multisite was part of the same package as WordPress.
As McKeown explains, a spike in signups could reflect a number of things:
a) that a release has generated a spike in users , and/or b) that something in a new WordPress release is complex enough to require additional help in the support forums.
There could be other environmental factors that cause new signups – for example, the month that Movable Type changed its license (and WordPress 1.2 came out with the new plugin architecture) signups more than doubled and stayed higher in the subsequent months.
When asked what other plans she has in store for the data, McKeown plans on looking at monthly signups in relation to WordPress releases and will plot graphs that visually display the relation between WordPress releases to forum signups.
No Meaningful Results
The data is not publicly available due to privacy concerns and was obtained by McKeown through Samuel Wood by request for the WordPress history book she is writing.
According to Wood, when compiling the data, he did not attempt to account for spam accounts. In 2012, a CAPTCHA was added to the user registration area of the support forums but it was only partially successful at combating the problem. “Because of this, I don’t think any meaningful conclusions can be drawn from those numbers. They are interesting and show interesting trends, but not any meaningful results to base any actions off of.” Wood said.
What Data Points Would You Like To See?
Regardless of whether or not the data is scientifically accurate, I still find the numbers interesting. However, without being able to review the data in months instead of years, it will be hard to come up with any specific correlations. I think it would be neat to see an average of how long a new user is active on the forums and whether that average has increased or decreased over time.
What ideas or trends can you gleam from the data?
I think the forums themselves have become more useful over the years too. They used to be quite awkward to use, but with better notifications now and the need to write a support forum post to review a plugin, they’re a lot more useful than before IMO.