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Thread: Why the huge fluctuation in participation here at the Model Railroad Forums?

  1. #11


    I agree with Mark, the amount of actual participation by members fluctuates a lot. When I first joined, you couldn't keep up with the number of posts there were so many. Now, your lucky to see half a dozen or so at any given time and the vast majority of people looking at the forums are visitors.

    As has been said though, the summer months draw people to other interests and activities, some members have personal issues that prevent them from participating, the membership is an aging one and (possibly) resulting in a decline in "actual membership" numbers as opposed to those listed. People simply have "real lives" that they put first to their "hobby life". There are all manner of reasons for a decline in membership participation.

    I too am a member of other forums, notably the nscale forums for obvious reasons. That forum is far far busier than here and has been for some months. Why does one forum attract more activity than another ... could be a variety of reasons.

    (aka wombat457)

    "...knowing what to do is one thing, being able to do it is another..."

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Central Minnesota, Park Rapids area.


    A lot of really good opinions on what is going on. I think that per selector, there are likely a small number of "Fixtures", those of us who actively participate here. Whether the downward turn happening now is due to us dying off, seems doubtful to me. Whatever it is, is probably unknowable to us, the participants.
    Last edited by NP2626; 12-14-2017 at 05:40 AM.
    Mark D.

    Opinions given are my own and not meant to ruffle any feathers.
    Northern Pacific, really terrific!

  3. #13


    Probably just blame it on Trump.
    I'm not here consistently due to training for seniors MMA bouts. When I win my match, I'm back on here. When I loose, I'm in the hospital for a day or too trying to remember who I am. 8-)
    Actually, just as stated above, this isn't the foremost thing on most peoples minds.
    When ya absolutely positively need model railroad fun, choose the D&J Railroad.

    Visit the progress of the construction of the D&J Railroad at:]

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Colorado, Kansas, and servicing all points between


    Quote Originally Posted by NP2626 View Post
    ... All of the time in 2016 and on through the spring of this year, participation here seemed to be very good, lots of action! However, during this past summer and continuing onto today, participation seems to be very slow and lack luster!...Participation here seems to come in waves! O.K. I can accept that the Christmas season going on now, might effect participation. However, I don't recall it slowing down last year, like it has this year. Is the use of this forum subject to highs and lows as I perceive them?
    I think there are both short and long cycles of forum participation. I also have several theories as to why this is and could probably write a book here that no one wants to read. So briefly.
    1. There are several classes of posters. The prolific posters that will add new topics and also comment on just about any topic/thread every day. This is even if the comment is just "good job". All forums need a few of these types of members. Then there are the regular but less "every thread" type people who only post when they have what they consider something worth while to contribute. The forum needs bunches of these sorts of people. Then there are the regular readers but only post when they are serious or keenly interested about the topic (I would put Bob Fugate in this category). You know he is there but won't post unless it is something needed or special about photography. Then there are the flash in the pan type that are usually newbies that are prolific for a short period of time and then disappear. The board needs a good pool of all of these types to be healthy & sustainable. The other unnecessary classes have already been mentioned: the one time question people, the lurkers, the marketers, the trolls, the frivolous posters, etc. I've been trying to move myself more toward a prolific poster as JazzDad says "do what we can to keep the site alive". I've commented on lots of stuff I would have just read a couple years ago.
    2. Seasonal and Life Situation variations. Stuff happens. Next five days I'm going to be so busy with the Christmas Forest I doubt I'll read let alone post. The board has a real struggle when all of the prolific posters have personal issues that keep them from posting at the same time period. Without at least a few prolific posters the board will die really quickly.
    2a. Train burn out some people just tire of trains for a while and leave for a while and then come back for a while, or not. e.g. Space Mouse. I think he did three cycles over about 4 years.
    3. Hobby Cycles Already mentioned in other posts. A long cycle thing. Participation will wax and wane with the eb and flow of the hobby itself.
    4. Quality of Posts Almost hate to mention this one. If the posts are hard to read, hard to understand, or argumentative, the forum will loose participation. This is actually how I came to this forum. The MR forum for a while became very hostile toward anything that wasn't what a group (of about 30 members) considered the "right way" do to things. Everything to them became an argument. Heaven forbid someone should mention they were doing a 4x8! It was such that a new person could not ask a simple question without being told they were doing it wrong. So despite being one of the 10K posters over there, I bailed and came here. I've seen it here too. I consider the great Exodus of 2007 due to this issue. We lost many good people in that.
    5. dynamicity of the board the forum board itself needs to be able to adjust and adapt to the long cycles. When it doesn't it can seem dead even though it is not chasing people away and not attracting new members.

    These opinions are already longer than I wanted them to be... But did anyone notice a long cycle of decline starting June 2012 and accelerating in Nov 2014?
    Last edited by Iron Horseman; 12-14-2017 at 04:37 PM.

  5. #15



    All good and valid points and worthy of a book

    As for the decline during 2012 - 2014 I kind of recall it. Seems as though every couple of years it happens.
    Last edited by wombat457; 12-14-2017 at 04:38 PM.

    (aka wombat457)

    "...knowing what to do is one thing, being able to do it is another..."

  6. #16


    Wombat, Horseman, Mark et all: I have been following this post from afar, and have 'till now, refrained from commenting. The participants here have all provided some good and valid points. I mainly participate in the "Coffee shop" forum, named after our late friend Jeffrey. It's like stopping at the local coffee shop, on the way to work, or the local watering hole, after work. Mostly for socialization. I try to remain quiet, when I'm in a crabby mood, or don't have anything to contribute. On the other hand, when I find something worthy of sharing, I generally upload it. Some days, I post once, some more than once, and some days, I don't post at all. Yes, even old retired folk, sometimes have busy schedules, while other days, I lurk because my schedule is open...that's just how it is.

    Lately, I have been devoting time to actually working on or running my layout, and watching hockey. Some days, I just spend time with the wife, watching her favorite television shows.

    Over all, I have noticed a decline in activity in the three forums I regularly lurk in, This one, Atlas rescue, and MR. Usually, the quiet is due to the lack of new things to disguss. These things happen, then all of a sudden, the forum gets real active.
    I survived the Penn Central

  7. Default

    I think it really does depend a great deal on the people. Some of us are working on layouts, but lack the funds necessary to do much at any given times and forget about coming online when we're not actively working on our project.

    For me personally, I'll be back for a bit because I'm working on deciding what my 3'x2' track layout is going to look like. I'll probably be playing with that for a while away from the forum before I come back as I get to the next stage.

    Realistically, this is a niche hobby and it's going to be more of a trick to get people coming with some consistency over time. Especially during the summer or holidays when people are likely to be doing other things.

  8. Default

    I've been spending time in the basement, trying to complete some of the projects I've posted here, but are far from being finished. Additionally, my wife and I are trying to get her Mother's house ready to sell, plus sell a deceased Uncle's coin collection, which is neither of our hobbies. Add work to the mix, and there's only so much time. I check things out a few times a week, and post if I think I have anything relevant to add to the thread.

  9. #19


    What might help bring this into perspective is to know how many "real members" we have. I started going through the membership (out of boredom) and found that 124 registered members out of the first 150 members listed had left less than 10 posts with the majority (didn't count them) having never posted anything. To me, they're NOT members. I also found that only 73 members, out of the first 1500 listed, had left 100 or more posts.

    The forums claim to have 10177 members, which is phenomenal unless 9500 of them don't do anything.

    What I am trying to say is this - IF all of those registered members were, even partially, active then I think there would be cause for concern in terms of a decline. But if the forums are only surviving on a "hand full" of those registered members then the fluctuations of activity are most likely understandable.

    (aka wombat457)

    "...knowing what to do is one thing, being able to do it is another..."

  10. Default

    I know I haven't been the most consistent on here. Things in my life happen and my focus was elsewhere. I do try to stay in touch on here. I'm also a member of trainboard. They are more on N scale in which I model HO. So I'm nowhere near as active on there. I've noticed here as of late that some of the lurkers come out when a post is made that strikes their interest. Two popped up here in the past few days in the coffee shop.


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