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In 2016, how did the Christianity Stack Exchange fare? Are there any interesting trends or content worth sharing?

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Trends

Overall site activity has declined somewhat since 2015. We can see this through a few different metrics: traffic, new users, new content, and vote count.

Traffic

We've seen modest declines, around 12%, in visits, according to Quantcast:

           US      Rest of the world       Total
2015      5.6M          2.8M                8.4M
2016      4.8M          2.5M                7.4M
%chg      –14%          –11%                –12%

New users

Similarly, the number of new users by quarter (min. 2 rep) shows some decline as well, even accounting for seasonal differences:

             Q1     Q2     Q3     Q4
2015        415    350    346    320 
2016        341    288    273    231
%chg       –18%   –18%   –21%   –28%

Some of the greater decline in the last couple quarters might be attributable to these new users not having the benefit of time to gain upvotes.

New content

We've seen a moderate decline in questions asked and a larger one in answers given:

            Questions     Answers     Total
2015           1351         3399       4750
2016           1181         2211       3392
%chg           –13%         –35%       –29%

Votes

The number of upvotes and downvotes has also declined:

          Upvotes      Downvotes      Total
2015       22831         10345        33176
2016       17479          7012        24491
%chg        –23%          –32%         –26%

Given the decline in new content, it's perhaps unsurprising that the number of votes has fallen as well. That said, we might expect the increasing size of the repository to attract more votes from new users.

Content and users

On a happier note, we've seen many examples of generous users and highly voted content.

Generosity

  • Simply a Christian gave away the most reputation in bounties this year
  • curiousdannii had the highest Votes to Reputation ratio among qualified users (0.78). Runners up were bruised reed (0.63) and KorvinStarmast (0.56).
    • These users had at least 500 votes and 500 reputation earned in 2016. Among those just missing these minimums, the highest ratio belongs to Thunderforge, at 0.99.
    • This metric indicates dedication to the community (via one of its most important mechanisms, voting) with relatively little reward in reputation.

Top New Questions and Answers

Top 10 questions of 2016 by score:

Several of the top 10 answers of 2016 appear as answers to one of the above questions. Those that do not are listed separately here:

And finally, here are the top 6 unanswered questions of 2016, by score:

Summary

This cursory review reveals moderate declines in key metrics like traffic, content, and community involvement (via vote count). Even so, we have numerous examples of dedicated community members, including many who give (via voting) more than they receive (in reputation). We also have seen a wide variety of highly regarded content, both questions and answers.

Now let's make 2017 even better!

  • 4
    I'm going to look into this more, but for now a word of caution: I don't think the "decline" you're seeing is necessarily indicative of anything. At the very beginning of the year there was a huge shake up in the search engine world and we lost a ton of traffic overnight due to not showing up the same way as before. I'm pretty sure we've been steadily growing through 2016, but the baseline new visitor traffic got moved right after the first of the year — something that really doesn't reflect on the health of the site as much as a first blush might suggest. – Caleb Jan 1 '17 at 6:18
  • 2
    Thanks @Caleb. I didn't feel qualified to provide much analysis on the data I found, but something like what you are talking about certainly makes sense. And even if there is a true "decline," that's not necessarily a bad thing either -- it might indicate higher quality standards and a focusing of our niche. – Nathaniel is protesting Jan 1 '17 at 12:32
  • 1
    Pageview traffic took a massive hit virtually overnight in the last 2 weeks of December last year to the tune of 30% or so of new visitor traffic. I haven't found a source but I remember SE at the time letting us know it was a change in Google page rank calculations that took this chunk. After that the next few months have a lot of jitter, but the trend since July is up again. So the 10–15% loss you show for the year is actually a 15–20% gain over the year if you figure the December 2015 "reset" as the year starting point. – Caleb Jan 1 '17 at 21:58
  • 4
    That being said the contribution activity numbers you're looking at (posts, votes) seem to line up pretty well with what I have access to. I'd say the vote number at least is cause for concern. We might want to try to get the "vote early vote often" mantra in front of some of our newer site visitors. The more votes flow the more effective the crowd sorting mechanism becomes and the more motivated people are to keep contributing. – Caleb Jan 1 '17 at 22:01

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