2011-01-18

Who reads FR?

At www.freerepublic.com, we find the question Who reads FR? to be answered in the following way:
Over 300,000 people have registered for posting privileges on Free Republic since inception in 1996 and our forum is read daily by over one hundred thousand freedom loving citizens and patriots from all around the country, and all around the world. We're currently delivering over thirty million pageviews per month to over one million visitors.
This number of 300,000 users is sometimes quoted (i.e., "On one conservative Web site, Freerepublic.com, some of the site's 300,000 registered users have recently used discussion threads to encourage votes for Bristol." - www.people.com), and adorns the front page of freerepublic since Dec 2008 (waybackmachine.com).

But it was wrong then - and it is still wrong now.

So, why aren't there 300,000 freepers?


When registering for posting privileges, any user gets an identification number. The user normally doesn't see this ID, it is only used for internal purposes. Jim Robinson got the number 1, the number 100,000 is taken by The 100,000th FReeper! Unfortunately, these consecutive numbers seem to have been assigned at the beginning of the registration process, not after a successful creation of an account. So each failed try to register increased the used ids, but not the number of accounts. Both numbers diverged pretty fast, but the bug wasn't mended until Feb 2010, when the new mile-stone of 350,000 attempted registrations arrived. By then, the two numbers differed by roughly 100,000. In fact, when freerepublic announced to have 300,000 registered users for the first time ind Dec 2008, the number really was closer to 230,000 - and today, it is less than 270,000.

And what has been done about it?


The way the powers-to-be have chosen to get the numbers right is obvious: they wait for the reality to fit the stated fact. The number of created accounts wasn't updated for two years, and probably won't be changed for another two years, until the number of registered freepers meets the announcement on the front page.

Just for the record: I think that the number of pageviews and visitors are correct. And I doubt that the makers of the site willingly inflated the numbers of created accounts. It seems to be just an honest mistake, and an easy one to make. But when they found the bug, wouldn't it have been the right thing to change the number, as they knew that it was false?

5 comments:

  1. "The 100,000th FReeper!" is just a screen name somone chose, not a membership number. You can't see membership numbers so you have no idea if this is the 10th freeper account or the millionth freeper account. Poor basis for this theory.

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  2. Indeed, you can get the membership number. Try http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/user-posts?id=1 for Jim Robinson, and http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/user-posts?id=100000 for the 100,000th freeper. The account was obviously created by someone who knew the system - but it is in fact more like the 72,000th freeper.

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  3. You're forgetting they've purged at least half the registered members from that site. The number having posting privileges is much smaller.

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  4. "You're forgetting they've purged at least half the registered members from that site."

    Bullshit.

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  5. Interesting article, although I must admit I'm not really one for statistics, so I have to take most of it on your word.

    Anyway, if you're also Bezelbub over on FR, it looks like you're cruising for a zot. If it happens, you're certainly welcome at TBF.

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