August 3, 2006

The Walmart of Community

by at 12:32 AM

At the end of March, we posted about the effects of removing registration from our forums and the "Ni-Chan Paradox ". But to be honest, at the time we weren't sure if it was just a phase of early growth, or if the trend would continue.

It has:

growth-forums.jpg

The number of daily forum posts has more-than-doubled since we last reported -- now averaging over 12,000 per day. We also passed our 1,000,000th post milestone just a couple of weeks ago. For a system that's only 6 months old, we like the shape of this curve.

From it's inception, Topix has been about the long-tail. When you want to find a news page about Floyd Landis, Mel Gibson, Honda CRVs, or Oklahoma Sooners Football, we've got a news page and a forum for you.

And the same is true for local news. Whether it's big metros like Baltimore, Denver, and Seattle -- or smaller burgs like Topock AZ , Lenoir NC , and Columbia KY -- we've got you covered.

So we were pretty confident that the forums in small town USA would get at least a proportional level of traffic and posts as the big cities. What has floored us, however, is just how saturated some of these small town forums have become with discussion: For example, Columbia KY has 17,955 posts. The town's population is only 4,014 . That's more than 4 posts for every man, woman, child in Columbia.

That's 447% saturation!

Now, not all towns have this level of local discussion. For example; Caruthersville MO (pop: 6,470) is trailing at 117% saturation, while Nederland TX (pop 17,422) is stuck at 56.5%. Spring Hill TN is 55.7%. Bentonville AR is straggling at 18.8%.

Bentonville, AR. Home of Walmart? The big-box super-store that got its start by concentrating on the hamlets of small-town america -- and consequently un-noticed by competition until the juggernaut had become so vast it was unstoppable?

This reminds us of... something :-)