Why is this site so inactive? In hours, a few questions pop up. Other SE sites are relatively active. Considering how wide physics is and how active other SE sites are, this seems terribly slow to me at least.

I feel so because I know, pretty high profile people were here. This must be a pretty thriving community.

Or is it because there is some pick hour?

This is just a comment, though.

As for the question, is there any way, we can grow this community?

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    $\begingroup$ We always have a dip in activity on starting on Fridays. Things will pick up a bit again come Monday. $\endgroup$ Feb 3 '13 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ If you're comparing this to Stack Overflow, Super User, or Server Fault, then don't. Those sites have been here twice as long as this one, and have had a lot of time to gain traction and build a community. We're not there yet. Aside from that, our target audience "experts in physics" is considerably smaller than the target audience of other sites "programmers"/"folks who use computers"/etc. $\endgroup$ Feb 3 '13 at 6:47
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    $\begingroup$ If you want to grow this community, then the appropriate question is "How to grow this community?" $\endgroup$
    – raindrop
    Feb 3 '13 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ I think the problem is that any crackpot is able to ask a question or answer one, and will get some upvotes from another crackpot. I have since stopped bothering to come here for that reason, and even hesitate to bother answering questions for the same. You've very much missed your target of physicists and instead hit physics students or enthusiasts who don't necessarily have any idea what they're talking about. The fact that I have ~300 points here and only ~50 on mathoverflow will point to the jump in quality between both sites. $\endgroup$ Feb 9 '13 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ @P O'Conbhui: you have more points here because MathOverflow is a mature community full of skilled professionals, whereas physics.SE (as of February 2013) was an emergent community having lower experts/enthusiasts level, hence more questions per person capable for a competent answer. Is doesn’t inherently indicate that the site is going to fail. $\endgroup$ Nov 23 '14 at 14:28

Actually, we get on average 36 questions per day, which is typical or a bit above the median for all sites in the SE network. I don't see much support for the assertion that most other SE sites are more active than this.

Of course, growing the site is always something to think about, regardless of how well we are already doing.

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    $\begingroup$ Is there any way to see metrics over time? $\endgroup$ Feb 3 '13 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ @AlanSE The moderators have access to some metrics, but we are told that they are not public. Here's a answer from last August where I related some general observations out of them. I believe the tends report there continue. $\endgroup$ Feb 4 '13 at 2:47
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    $\begingroup$ @dmckee Not sure what post you're talking about. We can find Alexa data for the main SE sites, but not Physics because it's so small. There's also the area51 stats, and I'm not sure if those change over time or it's just for the end of the beta phase. $\endgroup$ Feb 4 '13 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ @AlanSE I believe Area 51 stats are no longer updated beyond a site's graduation. You can try Quantcast for public tracking data. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Feb 4 '13 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ @AlanSE There was meant to be a link in that comment. $\endgroup$ Feb 4 '13 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ Actually 36 questions per day puts you into the top 25% $\endgroup$
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 9 '13 at 16:42

Tumbleweed is a wonderfully worded "forever alone" badge.

Asked a question with no votes, no answers, no comments, and low views for a week.

I wanted to celebrate my accomplishment, and I thought it would be applicable to this question. So I went to the badge page and copied them all into Excel:


From the data I just teased out a list of dates. It then follows that a single tumbleweed was awarded in the course of every interval between one time stamp and the next. What people really like to see is graphs with time as the x-axis, so we just add one tumbleweed to the total to get the total number of tumbleweeds at each time stamp value.


Interesting! What a unique metric the tumbleweeds are. In a simple since, this represents the number of questions that fall by the wayside. It's very much a "long tail" sort of occurrence, so I don't know that it really reflects anything about the user number or activity. It's its own very unique thing. It is interesting that the slope seemed to change sharply (like a 'hockey stick' graph) around the middle of 2012. Sorry the years are a little bit difficult to read. This graph's regions represent 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Let's look at total traffic volume to compare.


traffic volume

Interesting, this also seems to show a behavior change around the middle of 2012. You need to mentally shift your time scale to directly compare them. How does this compare to the tumbleweeds? It could be said to be consistent. After all, if the number of questions went up around that time, the tumbleweeds might have followed proportionally.

So traffic is up. However, these combined data sets suggest a novel explanation for the observation in the OP. Maybe, while traffic is strong, attention to individual questions hasn't improved, and maybe some people feel like they get an echo when they throw something into the void. I can imagine that people felt similar things when Stack Overflow was growing. It seems like a contradiction, but it might make sense.


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