What's the difference between "User Visits" and "Active Users"


I agree that reading is fundamental but we’re the only platform afaik that defines the term in this way which is at best ambiguous.

1 Like
(Jeff Atwood) #10

Yes well that’s why Discourse is awesome and better than the other platforms :wink:

(That said, we would indeed have to add a bit of reading to the mix to get that, right now it’s just user visited while logged on.)


I don’t think I’m explaining myself well. What I’m suggesting is that we use different terminology to define ‘people that read but don’t engage in any other way’ to differentiate them from what is commonly known as ‘active members’.

I totally agree that the reading stat is valid and that those people are fundamentally important to community survival, but the fact that all other platforms that I’m aware of define ‘active members’ differently to us is confusing.

(Dean Taylor) #12

There is already a specific dictionary term for this: “Lurker”, the current definition is:

A person who lurks, in particular a user of an Internet message board or chat room who does not participate.

From the now very old Oxford English Dictionary Twelfth edition 2011:


The original pre-internet meaning (1) always makes me chuckle because it’s still relevant today online.

There is also the alternative term “Observer” for those fearful of the negative connotations surrounding “Lurker”.

(Alex Armstrong) #13

I’m trying to make heads or tails of the stats in the dashboard and came across this discussion. After reading it, I’m still none the wiser.

Is there a way to get statistics for:

  • The number of unique users who visited the site in a month (i.e., visitors, not visits)
  • The number of unique users who visited the site in a month and interacted with it in some way beyond reading

You can get that from GA.

I get this by downloading all users into a spreadsheet, removing all but the current month, and then sorting by like and post counts. It’s a bit cumbersome but it works.

The new admin dashboard that I’ve designed will include this. We don’t have a hard delivery date on that but we’re hoping to get it underway soon.

(Alex Armstrong) #15

I’m not sure how. My community is private and therefore has no anonymous users. GA’s visitors are useful but may indicate the same user, just on different devices (since GA has no conception of Discourse’s users).

The other suggestion is a bit cumbersome, but Good Enough For Now™ :slight_smile:

Edit: On second thought, I think the other idea doesn’t work either. The like/post count values are for that a user’s entire activity. He may have a very high number in general, but none in that particular month. Or am I missing something?


Ah yes, that’s fair. How many people do you think use multiple devices though? Enough to seriously corrupt the numbers?

Actually you’re right. It only gives a count of new members that have been active.

I have a data explorer query for the other. Do you have that plugin installed?

1 Like
(Kane York) #17

This is what the /about page 30 day active user count is. It counts the number of accounts who logged in within the last month.

1 Like

That’s only helpful if you get it on the day though.
There are no custom date ranges so if you’re reporting for the past month you have a one day window.

(Alex Armstrong) #19

What @hawk said :slight_smile:

I’m not sure, but part of the community is logged in both at their work computers and on their personal devices. (Be they mobile or otherwise.) We’re a professional development non-profit. Some stuff they clearly see as work, and some they do after hours.

And yes, I have Data Explorer.

(Alex Armstrong) #20

I’m still trying to do this:

Any help would be appreciated.

@HAWK, you mentioned a Data Exporer query for the second one? Is there something similar for the former one? I wouldn’t mind running it manually for a every month – because he GA statistics seem all but useless to me.


This one gives you people that posted within the timeframe – it would need to be edited if you want to include likes.

-- [params]
-- date :date_from
-- date :date_to
-- int  :min_posts = 1

WITH user_activity AS (
    SELECT p.user_id, count (p.id) as posts_count
    FROM posts p
    LEFT JOIN topics t ON t.id = p.topic_id
    WHERE p.created_at::date BETWEEN :date_from::date AND :date_to::date
        AND t.deleted_at IS NULL
        AND t.visible = TRUE
        AND p.deleted_at IS NULL
    GROUP BY p.user_id
FROM user_activity
WHERE posts_count >= :min_posts
What cool data explorer queries have you come up with?
(Alex Armstrong) #22

Thank you so much, Sarah. This is really helpful.

I did some archaeological work in my statistics archive and discovered that last year I had used a somewhat different version of this query to get the numbers for “Monthy Active Users”. (Also provided by you :heart: )

The old code has a section like this:

    WHERE p.created_at::date BETWEEN :date_from::date AND :date_to::date
        AND t.deleted_at IS NULL
        AND t.visible = TRUE
        AND t.closed = FALSE
        AND t.archived = FALSE
        AND t.archetype = 'regular'
        AND p.deleted_at IS NULL

The new code is missing the following lines:

        AND t.closed = FALSE
        AND t.archived = FALSE
        AND t.archetype = 'regular'

If I understand this correctly, removing these lines will include closed and archived topics in the count. The archetype line is more puzzling.

I think that removing the archetype line means that private messages are included in the count. Is this the case?

And another question: does this count take into account both topics and posts, or only the latter?



It counts all posts (including OPs).

1 Like
(Henrik Lenberg) #24

The “User Visits” number for “Today” seems to be counting unique users that have visited. This is good! However, the “Last 7 Days” number seems to be the sum of unique daily users the last seven days, which to me makes no sense at all. IMHO user visits have to be unique users visiting the site one or more times during a certain time frame. Otherwise it’s better to look at page views or something like that.

(Ruth Cheesley) #25

Just adding a voice, this would be a very handy metric to have on the dashboard to track, and some clarity on the terms as expressed above is really helpful, especially when coming from other platforms where the same words mean quite different things.

It’s a common metric to be reported on and often a performance indicator (% of active members) so would be great if it was there on the dashboard.


Hi Ruth,
You can see details of the upcoming dashboard here. Note that it might be a few iterations before everything you see there is included.

(Mtan) #27

Are unique visits part of the new dashboard definition? Checking as this is already 8 months old. Also looking for an easy way to get unique visits / month

(Dawn Albrecht) #28

Maybe I missed the resolution, but is there a clean way to report active users vs lurkers?
I’m seeing the same issues @lenberg and @alehandrof are seeing: