Encouraging User Participation - Some Ideas, More welcome

You are right, the bubble remains, but what if there are other notifications, then maybe a not well-informed user will see the bubble, click on his avatar (if he ever set one, another problem), but then not see a notification in the list that pertains to the bubble (from his/her perspective)

In this example (my own), I see a message at the top of the list. What would even be better, is if the envelope symbol (slighly yellow because I moused over it) would somehow change its look as long as there are unread messages, I wonder what @eviltrout thinks about that… might be helpful?

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Totally agree on this! Bring members closer and help them becoming friends is always a good thing :slight_smile:


This is a great idea - allow mods/admins to identify the higher priority categories, and have more varied and more frequent rewards for those categories. Definitely a good idea.

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I’m using the in-beta Discoursemetrics.com to track my site data better.

Here is the key issue i have in terms of user participation - I have great DAU / MAU numbers (Daily Active Users / Monthly Active users) - almost up to Facebook levels (in the 60% + level) - but have a huge issue with DAU/ TAU (Total Active Users). DAU / TAU is down at the sub 10% level - which I view as absolutely terrible.

There is a huge drop off for a large number of users who come in, read the site, get motivated to join, join, then drop off.

For some reason we seem to be losing a huge number of after they’ve gone through all the hassle of signing up - which I find strange.

With most of my users on Gmail - I suspect part of the issue is that all our notifications go into the “forum” category in Gmail - which most people rarely check.

@codinghorror - I wonder if it would be possible to implement an SMS gateway API option - for example something like Twilio - https://www.twilio.com/ for some less frequent reminders of interaction. Perhaps for personal messages, and periodic updates - and have that as part of the standard signup to increase engagement.

Here are my stats from DiscourseMetrics.com right now (which is looking better all the time)

Have you compared that to any other forums? discoursemetrics.com looks like a cool project, maybe you could invite them to this topic to share some data with us!

Personally I’m not surprised by the 10% number. Even before I was a Discourse employee I was registered to a large amount of forums. Let’s say I had 50 unique forum accounts:

  • 40 forums I only registered on in order to correct Someone who was wrong on the internet. Unless the topic I subscribed to got bumped, I’d never visit the place.
  • 5 forums I’d casually check up on every week or so
  • 3 forums I’d check on daily, posting if I found something related to me.
  • 2 forums I’d be a regular on, reading and posting to daily.

Hi :smiley:

I’ve had to temporarily hide the Daily Active Users chart for users of DiscourseMetrics (sorry @BCHK!) because I don’t think the numbers are accurate for all forums. I have posted a bug report here: User visit stats are not correct? I’m looking into other ways of fetching the data, but I would really appreciate if someone knows what the cause is for the weird stats in /users.

The DAU stat ends up being almost the same as the 7 day active users stat, so something is weird. How do you calculate TAU, @BCHK, is it the number of users who have ever been active? Due to natural churn, wouldn’t this number always go down as your forum grows?

If anyone else wants to join the private beta, head on over to http://www.discoursemetrics.com

Thanks :smiley:


Ehi man, just to know. You ask the api master key to fetch this data, have you write permissions on my forum as asmin? Or just read permissions? Is this a Security issue?
BTW great work indeed!

Hi Alessio, yes the API key gives full access, and it is needed because we use some of the data available in the admin section. It would be nice to have read-only API access, perhaps this will be implemented at some point :slight_smile:

Of course, we don’t change anything on your forum or use any data other than what we need to generate metrics.

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Not yet - I’m hoping that DiscourseMetrics does this soon - includes the ability to compare my site’s stats against the pool of sites (anonymously) that use their site for stats.

Erlend, Wow - 50 unique forum accounts - I suspect that is an order of magnitude more than the average user, if not more.

Its hard to know what the right engagement percent here in the DAU/TAU ratio is - very hard to identify variables to test and help identify the issues. Any feedback on ways to do this would be appreciated.

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I would really like to have a better way to reach my users. Emails are very low in engagement and responses. My open rate is typically down below 24% - on newsletter type emails to my audience, and much much lower on the forum emails I suspect (but I don’t see an easy way to confirm this - anyone have any ideas on how to do this?

It would be nice to have that tracking of opens on emails done in the Discourse interface.

Yes - I’m looking at TAU as total registered users.

As a marketing person - I’m very skeptical of just assuming that your loss of user engagement is a “natural churn”. Who knows what a “natural churn” rate is? As a software developer, I assume that we can always make our platform’s engagement mechanisms better.

My web sites are for chronic medical conditions - so its not like a person’s “interest” should ever really go away.

For some reason we’re not able to pull these users back - and I view that as a problem that needs to be addressed somehow. Its a problem all of us here face - and one which needs to be understood better.

I understand, given your audience that makes sense. I’m not assuming that all loss of engagement is unavoidable churn, but that there will always be a certain percentage of users that will stop posting and never come back, almost regardless of what you do.

If you had a forum for professional photographers, for instance, I think you would naturally lose a percentage every month because they’ve switched jobs or become interested in something else. I’ve been a member of many forums where I was really active when I had that specific interest but not so much anymore, so I guess this really depends on the topic of your community :slight_smile:


@BCHK do you have any thoughts on this today? If you re-read your first post, how do you feel about it now? Different? The same?

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Jeff - sorry for my slow response. Its funny - but as I think about it, its still a big issue. We are now up to 8.6K users and about 1.2 K messages a day. But still - the number of daily active users is quite low and as a percentage is falling because while people are still subscribed they don’t return very often.

I still think this is a big issue. I still think we need better ways to get people back to our sites.

Have you seen any difference in participation rates (DAU/TAU) in the mobile community using the Android App and IOS App? It would be interesting to know the difference in terms of how effective the app notifications impact returns and participation.


By the way - I’m confused. I look at my “about us” information below and 7 day and 30 day numbers don’t seem to be accurate: How could we only have 43 users visiting the past 7 days and 205 the past 30. This makes no sense.


That seems possible to me (~50/wk). What does your Admin Dashboard stats for New members (new registered accounts, not visits) look like, consistent or contradictory?

Have you had a look at our new dashboard yet in admin and https://yoursite/admin/reports/dau_by_mau?category_id=all&end_date=2018-07-14&start_date=2015-07-11

Looking at your actual data there, stuff looks engagement did get better around 2017, but has remained around 30-34% since, overall these numbers are actually quite excellent and healthy from all we know.

Also looking at new contributors you are getting a very steady amount in.

Not against improving stuff, but overall your forum looks pretty super healthy from our dashboard.

For comparison meta is at 14-21% DAU/MAU which means we are far less engaged here than on your larger site.


But our Admin dashboard tells me we get almost 200 people per day. It doesn’t seem make sense or am I misreading something?

See this link:


I think you may be confusing new account registrations with user visits. The Signups 214 isn’t that far from 205

I can’t explain the 9 difference. My guess is jobs need to “catch up” with each other given time (a staggered 24hr. schedule?). eg. the about stats or dashboard stats need to grab / lose a day on the ends of the range.


This is a fascinating topic. I appreciate @BCHK’s experience and insights.

Here’s how I see the situation:

  1. Most people experience content overload. Amidst the deluge of information, people gravitate towards the sites that seem to have the most relevant content, as defined by that person.
  2. When forums are small and focused, there is a high percentage of participants who find the content relevant and valuable. Also, most of the participants become familiar, building a sense of community.
  3. As the forum grows, more content is less relevant and more participants are unknown. Two ways to manually solve for this: Categories and tags.
  4. Another approach: wisdom of the crowds, reddit-style, for surfacing the most popular content (similar to “top” in some ways).
  5. Another approach: algorithmic sorting of relevance on an individual user basis.

It seems that the “news feed” approach is winning the relevance battle. Perhaps this is too loose, but perhaps it is at least ‘directionally’ correct. It seems that Amazon has a news feed for shopping - my front page has products I am most likely to buy. Netflix has a news feed for entertainment - the front page has the shows I am most likely to watch. Social media… obviously, news feed approach. Google’s dominance comes in part from the speed of query to personalized results that I am likely to click on.

That is, perhaps the paradigm of ‘social media’ vs’ discussion forums’ is an outdated lens for looking at the subject. I think the predominant factor for engagement is ‘I want content relevant to me.’ Whatever a platform does to automate relevance, so that this goal is met without the member having to work for it, is likely to improve engagement.