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Despite being one of the guilty parties, I don't look favorably on the statistics that show a small number of people are collecting most of the points. (E.g., look at the number of people with an increase in rep equal to at least half the second place person [to provide some resistance to outliers]: 8 in July, 10 in August, 11 in September, only 4 in October.) As part of a strategy of keeping and growing this community we should help make everyone feel welcome to contribute their ideas. Perhaps we should value broader participation over providing quick responses. How can we encourage that?

Note that one of the SE metrics of community strength is the number of participants with 200+ reputation.

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I am not sure if we have to do anything special apart from

(a) promoting the site (discussed elsewhere),

(b) encouraging voting for content (also discussed elsewhere) and

(c) providing quality content (in terms of questions and answers).

I suspect that in the early days there will be a heavy skew to a few active users collecting the points but if the site takes off and gets greater numbers the number of high rep users will also broaden (both in terms of numbers and in terms of fields/abilities represented). A casual browsing of other beta SE sites shows a similar trend (few high rep-users).

Added Later

I should also add that another factor why we may not have broad base participation is that lots of statisticians/data mining/machine learning folks work in the industry where confidentiality considerations may prevent them from asking questions to resolve their issues on a public forum. This is not much of an issue for programming/software (as they can easily abstract away business info) or for math (as the questions there are mostly about pure math rather than applied).

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  • $\begingroup$ The imbalance has grown more extreme with our site than with many others and it has changed recently, too. That's what caught my attention. Can we modify the FAQ? Craft our answers to better encourage others? Work harder on creating more questions? For heaven's sake, we should be hugely more active and broad-based than something like the the Wordpress site! $\endgroup$ – whuber Oct 18 '10 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber Wordpress is not a good example as it will have a significant user flow from SO. A better benchmark is math.SE but that also has done better than us perhaps because math is generally more internet savvy than stats (think how many math blogs exist vs stats blogs etc). $\endgroup$ – svadali Oct 18 '10 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ I agree: we really need more people on this site, and this has come up in other threads on how to market ourselves, etc. I'd really like to resurrect those threads and see if we can come up with some effort to draw more traffic here. That's basically the StackOverflow model -- there's a ridiculous mix of how activity/reputation varies, but the large and diverse crowd make it a secondary issue at best. $\endgroup$ – ars Oct 18 '10 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ BTW, a better comparison would be Meta-Optimize because that community probably mirrors us better than WP, Math, etc -- they're into data and algorithms. It seems to me that their activity patterns don't tell a better story than ours: metaoptimize.com/qa/users $\endgroup$ – ars Oct 18 '10 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ +1. Promotion, voting, and encouraging quality responses is the key to developing this forum as a quality site. Artificial intervening to upvote current answers, with current users might make the beta look better. However, it will change the generating process. What we really need is more people, asking good questions, and getting good answer to sustain the site. $\endgroup$ – Brett Oct 21 '10 at 3:43
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Re recent change (whuber's comment to Srkikant's answer): There do appear to be a few less highly active contributors so far this month. I just looked at the number of users with month reputation over 200, adjusting for the fact that it's currently only 18 oct by looking at number over 200*18/31 = 116 for october:

34 in July, 28 in August, 31 in September, 25 in October (part).

Surely this could have something to do with the start of the academic year in the Northern Hemisphere, though?

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  • $\begingroup$ +1. I was going to mention this -- just checking some of the profiles of people who were very active during the early questions, it seems they come from academia (professors, phd students) and the summer surge just didn't carry over into fall. We have a recruitment problem. $\endgroup$ – ars Oct 18 '10 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ Anyone from the southern hemisphere have any ideas how to recruit more of you to help balance out supply and demand seasonality..? $\endgroup$ – onestop Oct 18 '10 at 21:56

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