|An example of how different the membership numbers of a forum can be given a different location on the site.|
I discovered a new wrinkle and problem with using the Yahoo forum numbers for this task the other day.
I was visiting one of the many forums that I belong to. (Translation--I was avoiding studying for my Chinese Religion and Philosophy exam.) And on the front page of the forum, the little box with the forum information said that the membership was 9696 members. Now, I probably would not have noticed this if someone recently had not been bragging about how large their forum was. Because of that I have became acutely aware of my habit of glancing at the membership numbers of the forums that I visit...as a working writer, I am looking out for possible places to advertise my ebooks.
Now, I hop over to the message index. And my eyes wander over to the information box...and I see that the membership numbers are only 5120 according to this page of the forum. That is only 53 percent of what the front page of the forum claimed. In round terms, this means that the front page claims about ten thousand members while the actual number is closer to five thousand.
At first, I thought maybe it was a Yahoo bug. So I went to a few other forums and saw the same pattern; the front page membership number was higher than the number of members that the message index page said. And the front page number matches the number of members that the Yahoo forum search page shows.
I managed to figure out what was causing the difference between the two numbers by going to one of the Yahoo forums that I set up ages ago. Going into the management pages, I realized that the difference had to be the result of bouncing members, those people who had abandoned their email addresses or were having trouble recieving emails from Yahoo. In the case of the forum that I first noticed this on, either they have 4576 members having email problems...or they have close to 4576 members who should not be in my market estimates.
|The number of bouncing members is exactly the difference between the two membership figures for the forum.|
What this means business-wise for me as a writer is that I have to remember to dig deeper than just the front pages or the search index results when trying to figure out where to aim my marketing efforts. It also means that when people start bragging about the number of people subscribed to their forum, I have to ask them what page they are looking at to figure out their numbers...because there is a large difference of figures in most of the fourms that I looked at.