Is Biostar Really Dying?

Is Biostar Really Dying?

Joachim’s Blog presented a number of interesting charts on user participation at Biostar forum and concluded:

I think the findings are quite clear this year: Biostar burns on a fresh supply of short-lived users whose questions are no longer answered as multifaceted as in Biostars early days. This blog post series was initially created to investigate the quality of Biostar forum posts, but if the shown statistical trends and developments are not addressed soon, then the Biostar might irrevocably succumb to its fading.

We did not have enough time to think about various charts, but one of them looked interesting.

Joachim interpreted the above graph as -

In the next chart, I have plotted how long users participate on the Biostar forum. If a user was active in Nov09, Feb10 and Dec11, then I count him/her as having participated 3 months. It is rather surprising to see that the vast majority of Biostar users do actually take part in forum posts less than six months and that a tremendous proportion of Biostar users are only active for just a single month. Considering the user activity from the previous graph that means that many Biostar forum interactions are very short lived.

…but can the above chart be interpreted differently? What if the above graph shows the same power law distribution present pervasively all over the internet? (check paper by Faloutsos brothers or Barabasi’s work cited here). Did Joachim end up proving that Biostar is just like the internet? Saying differently, anyone concluding in 1999 that the internet (not internet stocks) was dying was the farthest from truth.

Maybe we are paying too much attention to one chart, whereas the other charts of Joachim do back his point. We would like to hear the opinions of our knowledgeable readers.



A reader forwarded me this Biostar thread addressing Joachim’s points.

When you first posted about this supposed fading (2 years ago) the site had 1,800 questions and 5,200 answers, 8,000 comments. By today we faded to 9,000 questions, 19,000 answers, 33,000 comments. Since last March we had 465,000 unique visitors (as measured by Google) the most ever recorded year-over-year.

The above comment is informative about Biostar, but from a scientific point of view, we are curious to find out where Joachim’s analysis went wrong. The best explanation we can come up with is that the above chart is presented without a good ‘control’, namely behavior of users for rest of the internet.

Written by M. //