I have noticed that during the summer there are fewer questions (for the simple reason that there are fewer students taking courses, and hence fewer things to provoke questions).

I was wondering (purely out of curiosity) if there is a graph somewhere of questions vs. time? It would be interesting to see how this varies throughout the year, and to know quantitatively how many more questions are asked during the term, etc.

(In the same way that searching math on google trends gives an interesting cyclic pattern with highs near exams, and lows at Christmas and summer.)

Thanks,

  • 3
    Scott Morrison posted some statistics on MO that support your observations to a certain extent. – t.b. Jul 8 '11 at 23:30
  • @Theo: That is very interesting. In contrast to Google Trends, which represents the general populace, MO supporters only slow down at Christmas! – Eric Naslund Jul 8 '11 at 23:34
  • I think there is a significant drop in activity around end of July and beginning of August as well. – t.b. Jul 8 '11 at 23:39
  • @Theo It would be very interesting to see the same stats for this site. Can't this be done with the existing tools for analysing the database dumps? If not, it might be possible to tweak Scott's tools. – Bill Dubuque Jul 9 '11 at 1:22
  • @Bill: It would certainly be possible to extract most of that information out of data.SE. Here are two relevant queries: number of questions/day and number of questions/month. Maybe somebody could manage to produce some graphics out of these two and modify them according to further things of interest. – t.b. Jul 9 '11 at 1:31
  • 2
    When you say that today is "summer" you may alienate our Australian users. – GEdgar Aug 4 '11 at 14:17
  • @GEdgar, no worries, mate, it's always summer in Australia. – Gerry Myerson Aug 21 '11 at 0:14
  • 1
    I bumped in the interest of nudging mods to maybe post data of recent vintage. :) – J. M. is not a mathematician Jul 7 '16 at 13:28
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    @J.M. It is worth mentioning that at least some data are available in site analytics. See: What are the current traffic and usage patterns of this site? and the links given there (both for users above and below 25k). – Martin Sleziak Jul 7 '16 at 14:37
up vote 11 down vote accepted

This data is available to moderators, but at the top of the relevant page is a banner admonishing "analytics data is intended for moderators only; please don't share the specifics of this data in public". But I think it would be okay for me to say that there doesn't appear (to me) to be a strong correlation with the academic cycle.


With Jeff's approval, here is a plot of April 1 to present:

enter image description here

and here is a plot of November 1 to April 1:

enter image description here

There is certainly a bit of a dip in the beginning of January, but I don't see any real change from the spring to the summer.

  • 8
    I find that admonition quite odd, to be honest! – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Jul 9 '11 at 0:37
  • My hypothesis was that, if the site were underperforming, SE owners would not want this to be quantifiable to people (investors, I guess? or competitors?) – Zev Chonoles Jul 9 '11 at 0:42
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    Well, I would never invest in a site which does not give me access to that data! Either your hypothesis is wrong... or we should be thinking about how to get those silly investors to give us some of their money! :) – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Jul 9 '11 at 0:51
  • Ok, you're right, investors would get to see it when they ask for it. But is there really no one the SE team might reasonably want to prevent from having this information? – Zev Chonoles Jul 9 '11 at 8:49
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    it's probably OK to share just the questions / answers over time stats, I think, so go for it! – Jeff Atwood Jul 9 '11 at 11:28
  • @Theo: now you also see that there actually is a dip around Xmas time. – Willie Wong Jul 9 '11 at 15:33
  • Definitely contrary to what I had expected, as well. I don't know the details of 08 Jul through 31 Oct (of any year, much less 2011 in particular), but the missing months' abutting data indicate at least a general slope of approx. -60 answers & approx. -30 questions (assuming that wrapping them across 2010-2011 & 2011-2012 were to show no significant deviation). – Charles Rockafellor Jul 7 '16 at 17:14

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