16 July 2007

Rootsweb seasonal trends

Longtime readers may recall an earlier posting analyzing long-term trends in postings to Rootsweb newsgroups. Postings peaked in 2002, in January. The decline since has continued; every month in 2007 has fewer postings than the same month since 2000.

I wondered if folks spend as much time online with their genealogy in winter as in summer. Sorry southern hemisphere folks but this will assume the other hemisphere dominates the statistics. Over the course of a year December has fewest daily postings. January has the most. There's a gentle drop to May, then the daily average stays about the same until the December drop. There are more genealogists online in winter.

As the months with the lowest and highest number of posts are adjacent I was interested in the transition. Here are the trends around the holiday period in more detail.

The figure to the left shows daily Rootsweb postings from December 20 to January 10 for three different periods. The years are remarkably similar. There's a drop starting a few days before Christmas day, and a major increase on 1 January. Apparently genealogists get over their new year celebration hangovers quite quickly, or new year resolutions take effect. It takes until 10 January to see the end of the holiday slowdown; then activity climbs above the pre-Christmas average for the winter peak.

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