Earning Rep on PM:SE is a slow and tedious affair, mainly because of the slow rate of on-topic questions and apparent lack of users who read, upvote and accept answers. I once waited 2-3 days on Meta to get more than the initial 2 or 3 views of a question!) I understand that earning rep is not the main goal of the site, or any SE site, but it is part of the incentive to the community members to effectively and continuously curate the site.
I had assumed that since it is a Beta site it had always been like this. But then I looked back over older question and saw questions being upvoted in the 10s, multiple great answers with upvotes and discussions. In other words all the hallmarks of an active and popular site. They pretty much echo what I see on other sites. After some false starts on SuperUser and Stack Overflow I made PM:SE my home as it is PM practises I want to engage with and where most of any skill I have lies. After some months (maybe 10?) I randomly started up an account on ELU, just for kicks really... And I found that with considerably less effort I overtook my PM:SE rep score in a matter of a few short weeks... And it continues to outpace PM:SE even though I come here every day and try to engage with as many questions as I can...
I wasn't around in the early days- What happened to make the usage drop away so sharply? Did we reach the end of everything there is to say in the field of Project Management? How could we return the site to its former glories, or are we generally content to let it fade away on the basis "the public has spoken" and it is just not popular?
Interestingly, looking back over the past few months, there are a few instances of questions receiving 10 or more upvotes and views in the thousands- These are clearly where a question has made it onto the SE 'Hot Network Questions' list and those do seem to generate a raft of answers and interaction from (presumably new) users that browse the Hot Questions list (don't we all?)) looking for interesting questions. So perhaps we have two issues:
- We are not generally attracting enough active visitors, I feel we are below the "critical mass" but that is very subjective
- New visitors only visit once or very few times, tend not to value the site as a source of information and hence don't return
EDIT 2: For the avoidance of doubt, I agree the site is "alive and well" - it is demonstrably functioning and performing functionally as designed. Nor am I suggesting there is not "traffic" to the site or that we are not attracting new users (the words I have used are active and engaged users). Again, all of these are self-evident. What I am observing and commenting on is the considerably reduced amount of interaction between users and questions in modern questions. Many questions receive relatively few views, upvotes and answers, and the percentage of questions that receive accepted answers are relatively few. My main point is this:
- This situation means it is not a satisfying place for engaged users to participate in my opinion. I offer no evidence other than my own observation and opinion- If I take half an hour of my time to answer a question, to the best of my ability, and it receives a dozen views, no (or few) upvotes and no answer is ever accepted there is the possibility that my answer was not deserving of those effect, but after it happens again and again, I begin to doubt the efficacy of the site rather than my own abilities to answer questions correctly. To put it bluntly, why will people continue to post good quality answers when the audience appears to be very small and provides little reaction or encouragement? For the avoidance of doubt, that is a rhetorical question.
The number of "avid users" is neither here nor there- In my opinion we have this problem and if we have it despite there being a notionally substantial amount of "avid users" then the correlation is broken in my view.
Similarly personal reach is a superficially correlating value. Mine says I have reached 56,000 people. That's an ego-satisfyingly large number, but I am a fairly active poster on the site and I still believe we have an issue. So clearly reaching 56,000 people does not represent a vibrant site.
You may or may not agree we have a vibrant site here- I offer my observations and opinions. The thrust of posting this long post in Meta was to open a discussion- perhaps I am the only person who sees a low-usage, low-volume, low-interaction, and perhaps most importantly, low-fun site these days. In which case I will stop worrying. But if there is a problem, let's talk about it and see if it can be fixed.