By now nobody could have missed the fun and games associated with Amatya's xkcd question. The 100+k pageviews and huge vote count was extraordinary. There was another spike related to Viktor's question about finding objects on the Mars surface.
What you might not know is that the result was:
- Three days already with traffic well above average (averaging >30,000 visits/day on a site that has just cracked a 2000 visits/day median)
- Over 400 new users in three days - we usually get 8-15 new users a day.
- More than double the previous average number of upvotes in the past three days
- More questions (29) on 3 October (two days after the question) than on any other day since we got out of private beta
A lot of those users were “drive-by” users who will never come back because they were interested in xkcd, not in Mathematica. But at least some of them are showing genuine interest, if the increased question rate is anything to go by. And some quite well-known members of the Mathematica community have registered in the past couple of days. Presumably some of them saw the links to the post on Hacker News or reddit.
How do we keep some of those users coming back, and contributing good quality content?
A few ideas occur to me, including:
- keeping the blog posts coming
- making sure there are some good quality questions flowing in
- leaving some room for the new users to answer simpler questions
- plain being welcoming
But we are already doing all that. Is there something else we can do to take advantage of the traffic surge to promote the site in ways that will keep quality high?
EDIT PS: At cormullion’s request, I've updated the graphs to include the days since both spikes. Question activity remains higher than before the xkcd question. Traffic is also still about 50% higher on weekdays than it was beforehand. New users kept trickling in for a few days but as of 18/10 seems to have returned to the prior level.