The demise of E2 as demonstrated by linear interpolation

This place needs more actual content. Let's begin.

That short and oft-quoted phrase hits upon a turning point in the development of E2. It serves as the introduction to much more important writeups by written by much more prominent figures in the noding community than myself. If you read through tes' writeup, everything that applied then (almost two years ago) applies now. This place does need more actual content, and always will.

So, if the concept remains valid, then why mention it here? Well, over the last few weeks, I've been monitoring the rate at which the nodegel (measured in the number of writeups) is shrinking. I first mentioned this in a recent daylog of mine, in which I posed a rebuttal to the "Zero Population Growth" personal noding moratorium suggested by one of our editors. Without belaboring you by repeating myself, I stated that the database was already shrinking, and that holding back wouldn't do very much good to E2 as a whole.

What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation


That got me to thinking: Just how quickly is E2 being depopulated? Pretty quickly. As I noted in my daylog, old nodes are disappearing much faster than they're being replaced. I shared my ideas with Ouroboros, and he asked me to track how quickly the number of writeups was dropping. Check this out:

Everything2 Statistics as of 2002-08-31 03:48:10 (from the earliest Everything Daily Report in my possession):
Writeups total: 480,102

From the Statistics Nodelet, 2003-08-21:
Writeups: 466,939

From the Statistics Nodelet, 2003-09-02:
Writeups: 465,240

Although my methods and presentation of stats are nowhere as elegant as Professor Pi's, the numbers don't seem to lie... Over the first 355 days for which I have reliable stats, the apparent rate of writeup loss is 37.08 writeups/day (net loss of 13,163 writeups between 8/31/02 and 8/21/03). In the twelve days since then, the rate of loss has been 141.58 writeups/day (1699 writeups in that timespan). The rate has almost quadrupled.

My first instinct was to blame the decline on the updated policy regarding copyrighted works, and it seems evident that this policy is carving out small chunks of the nodegel. For example, a quick visit to Node Row turned up nuked nodes containing lyrics to songs recorded by Iron Maiden, Neil Diamond, Easy-E, Moloko and those of significant portion of U2's catalog.

Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.


There. Case closed, right? At first, I was content to simply state that the database was shrinking because the editors were deleting writeups in violation of the copyright policy. But that would be too easy -- and if you know me or of me, then you know that I rarely take the easy way out. Having already established that more writeups are being nuked now than a year ago (the "output" of the system, if you will), I -- with the assistance of Ouroboros -- shifted my focus towards the rate at which writeups are being created (the "input"). The results were a bit disturbing, as demonstrated in our (slightly edited) IRC log from last night:

caknuck sigh: "386 writeups submitted 3 years ago today"
caknuck the slowdown isn't a new phenomenon
ouroboros well no
caknuck but it's not b/c there isn't anything to node, though
ouroboros but 386, X, 159, 30 is worse than decimation
caknuck X = 258
caknuck that's almost a linear progression
ouroboros 12, 8, 5, 1
ouroboros interesting. the end of E2 as demonstrated by linear interpolation.

Yes, using these hastily gathered numbers to draw conclusions about the end of Everything2 is overly dramatic. But it should be plain to see that, compared to a year ago, fewer people are contributing new material to the site. Take a look at A Year Ago Today, then stop by ENN (look at the datestamps) and you'll see for yourself.

By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms


In the end, I don't know what this means. Are people noding less or are there fewer people visiting the site? Are experienced noders spending as much time writing as before, but taking greater care and putting more effort into each submission? Have housekeeping duties kept the best and most prolific noders from writing as much? If the number of new writeups continues to drop, will the site (and with it, the community) stagnate? Honestly, I don't know.

One thing I do know... This place still needs more content. Let's continue.

Source material: T.S. Eliot, "The Waste Land" (1922)

Many thanks to the aforementioned Ouroboros for his help and guidance with this project (and for suggesting the Eliot references).