The Decline and Fall of the BCSE - Part 2
(Originally published in May 2007).
The hard figures are only pointing in one direction. Two-thirds of a year after the BCSE's launch, it has fewer fans now than when it began. Instead of strong growth, it is seeing decline. People have seen what kind of outfit the BCSE is - and are voting with their feet.
The following graph plots the number of unique usernames posting in the BCSE's web forums, month by month. There is growth after the first month; after that, things are only moving in one direction:
Now, statistics of course can be misleading. When they give us answers, how do we know if we've asked the right questions? The above graph doesn't distinguish between those who are heavily involved, and those who just posted once. How about if we limit it to those who posted three times in a month? This shows the BCSE's peak as being in January (with the slight dip in December probably due to the Christmas period). This corresponds more accurately with my gut feeling:
How about if we take 5 or more posts? Same story:
If you look at that last graph, you'll see that the number of those still interested in the BCSE's offerings only just exceeds the size of the BCSE's committee. And we haven't even reached those summer months where people become less interested in the Internet yet...
The message is clear: People have taken a look at the BCSE, and said "no thanks". Can the majority be wrong? Yes. Are they this time? I don't think so...
I repeat what I said last time. I don't expect the BCSE to close this week. Some of its members are far too fanatical. If you have the gumption to pass yourself off as a national authority on science education to MPs and newspapers when you haven't even got a basic qualification in the area, then you're clearly not too bothered about reality. I expect the BCSE to carry on vomiting up their output for a while yet. But I expect fewer and fewer people to be fooled by it.