Snark

Visualization of KSP forum volume, by subforum

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Apropos of nothing whatsoever, I was just curious what the relative post volume of the various KSP forums looks like.  I mean, yes, the number of posts is displayed right there on the front page of the forum, but that's just a bunch of numbers.  I want to know what it actually looks like, in graphical fashion.  So I put the numbers (as of today, 2018-10-10) into a treemap to make them more visual.

Thought folks might be interested, so here it is.  :)

yKZeY40.png

I included every "top level" forum shown on the KSP forum front page.  In cases where forums have sub-forums (e.g. "KSP Fan Works" has "Mission Reports" as a subforum, etc.), I didn't break it down, I only included the top-level category, which includes everything.  (i.e. when you see "KSP Fan Works", that includes "Mission Reports" lumped in with it).

Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting visual representation of the overall size of things, by number of posts.

Enjoy!

 

[EDIT]  For comparison, here's what the distribution looked like in mid-2013, courtesy of archive.org:

h3unOf0.png

Edited by Snark
Add 2013 chart, for comparison
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When I clicked on this, I really expected a thread by a new member complaining about the decibel level of the notification bing.

I also thought The Lounge would be the biggest, but I don't spend much time in Add-On Releases.

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I always love it when @Snark's inner nerd comes out. :D It benefits everyone...

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Well, see, now my first comment doesn't make any sense.  Thanks @Snark

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6 minutes ago, Geonovast said:

When I clicked on this, I really expected a thread by a new member complaining about the decibel level of the notification bing.

Hmm, yeah, good point.  I've edited the title to make it a little more clear (from what it used to be, which was just "KSP forum volume").

6 minutes ago, Geonovast said:

I also thought The Lounge would be the biggest, but I don't spend much time in Add-On Releases.

I think the main thing going on there is the sheer number of mods out there.  There are thousands of them, and they all have their own threads.  And those threads tend to stay "live" for long periods of time (because mod users and authors are always posting stuff, as long as the mod stays alive).

It ends up being fairly ginormous in the aggregate.

4 minutes ago, adsii1970 said:

I always love it when @Snark's inner nerd comes out. :D It benefits everyone...

"Inner" nerd?

There's no outer, there.  :sticktongue:

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16 minutes ago, Snark said:

"Inner" nerd?

There's no outer, there.  :sticktongue:

Okay, then total nerd. But you're in great company... Don't forget, I'm so much of a nerd I sat and made a calendar based off the cycles of the Mun... :D

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Incidentally, just for fun, I decided to try applying the same visualization technique to my KSP career game.  I took a "part census", i.e. "add up all the parts in all the ships existing in my career game, and see which parts I use the most."

For the curious, here's the visualization, in a spoiler.

Spoiler

I just picked a career game I was recently playing (this isn't particularly my "biggest" career ever, just a recent one, reasonably developed into mid-to-late game.)

zub7nNV.png

Clearly, I must really like the Z-400 battery, HG-5 antenna, and SP-L 1x6 photovoltaic panels a lot.  :)

I collected the part stats with a quick little perl script; here it is, for the curious:

Spoiler


#!/usr/bin/perl
# Reads a KSP .sfs file and outputs .csv format with part counts.

use strict;

my $inPart = 0;
my %census;
while (my $line = <STDIN>) {
	if ($inPart) {
		next unless $line =~ /^\s*name\s*=\s*(\S+)\s*$/;
		++$census{$1};
		$inPart = 0;
		next;
	}
	$inPart = 1 if $line =~ /^\s*PART\s*$/;
}
my @parts = sort { $census{$b} <=> $census{$a} } keys(%census);
foreach my $part (@parts) {
	my $count = $census{$part};
	print "$part,$count\n";
}

One thing I note about the overall look-and-feel of this graph-- it's fairly diverse.  That is, if I were to ask "how many different kinds of parts would I have to add together to make up 80% of my total part use"... it's quite a lot.

So that tells me that, at least in my case, KSP is doing a pretty good job of having a rich set of parts that are useful enough for different purposes that I use lots of them.  :)

EDIT:  Note that the visualization's not perfect.  It's only based on currently existing ships in the game, which means it's going to drastically under-represent any parts that are mostly used during ascent-from-launch (e.g. SRBs, Mainsail), since those get destroyed.  It's also going to under-represent parts that tend to get mainly used on ships that get recovered, such crewed command pods.  It does include debris, so parts that get often get ejected after reaching orbit (e.g. Wolfhound) show up in the numbers.  Still, though, I think it helps to illustrate the richness of the part selection in KSP.

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2 minutes ago, Snark said:

Incidentally, just for fun, I decided to try applying the same visualization technique to my KSP career game.  I took a "part census", i.e. "add up all the parts in all the ships existing in my career game, and see which parts I use the most."

For the curious, here's the visualization, in a spoiler.

  Hide contents

I just picked a career game I was recently playing (this isn't particularly my "biggest" career ever, just a recent one, reasonably developed into mid-to-late game.)

zub7nNV.png

Clearly, I must really like the Z-400 battery, HG-5 antenna, and SP-L 1x6 photovoltaic panels a lot.  :)

I collected the part stats with a quick little perl script; here it is, for the curious:

  Hide contents



#!/usr/bin/perl
# Reads a KSP .sfs file and outputs .csv format with part counts.

use strict;

my $inPart = 0;
my %census;
while (my $line = <STDIN>) {
	if ($inPart) {
		next unless $line =~ /^\s*name\s*=\s*(\S+)\s*$/;
		++$census{$1};
		$inPart = 0;
		next;
	}
	$inPart = 1 if $line =~ /^\s*PART\s*$/;
}
my @parts = sort { $census{$b} <=> $census{$a} } keys(%census);
foreach my $part (@parts) {
	my $count = $census{$part};
	print "$part,$count\n";
}

One thing I note about the overall look-and-feel of this graph-- it's fairly diverse.  That is, if I were to ask "how many different kinds of parts would I have to add together to make up 80% of my total part use"... it's quite a lot.

So that tells me that, at least in my case, KSP is doing a pretty good job of having a rich set of parts that are useful enough for different purposes that I use lots of them.  :)

 

Now you have me curious. This would definitely help me get rid of mods that are underutilized in my games.

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2 minutes ago, Snark said:

and SP-L 1x6 photovoltaic panels a lot.  :)

One of my favorite parts!

I'd use the SP-W 3x2 as well, but they're unusable due to their self-clipping nature. :mad:

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Very interesting but ouch, that bottom right corner.  And that's an impressive number of posts on the two sub-forums that are explicitly set aside for non-KSP stuff.

 

 

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5 hours ago, KSK said:

Very interesting but ouch, that bottom right corner. 

I think that means that we're a community that mostly knows what we're doing, not Fixya.

Plus a great deal of support is in mod threads in the Add-on Releases instead of in the tech support forum itself, so that's a little skewed.

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4 minutes ago, Geonovast said:

I think that means that we're a community that mostly knows what we're doing, not Fixya.

Plus a great deal of support is in mod threads in the Add-on Releases instead of in the tech support forum itself, so that's a little skewed.

That large brown square in the middle seems to suggest otherwise. But in any case I was thinking more about the comparatively small number of posts to the Daily Kerbal, Announcements, anything Making History related and, to a lesser extent, Welcome Aboard. In other words, the sub forums at least notionally associated with news from Squad, new players and new official content.

It would be interesting to see a similar breakdown of posts from 2018 only but regardless, I was quite startled by the volume of posts to the off-topic or mod related sub-forums.

 

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1 minute ago, KSK said:

I was quite startled by the volume of posts to the off-topic

Have you spent much time in the Forum Games section of The Lounge?  A lot of those are leap-frogged posts that easily generate dozens of posts every hour.  I know there are plenty of members here who post almost exclusively in those threads.

I've also seen that new member introductions are fairly rare in every forum I've been in.

I don't spend a lot of time in the Announcements section for the same reason I try not to read the comments on FB posts by the Borderlands page.  It tends to be off-topic complaining, which sucks.  At least here I see a lot of legit bug complaints versus "shut up and give me the next version of the game I wasn't promised."  But they're still inappropriate complaints in the wrong place, so they get nipped. (This is just what I've seen - I don't have numbers)

Quantity isn't quality.  I'm sure the smaller boxes up there get a lot of posts that end up being trimmed.  And if @Snark is using public numbers instead of moderator numbers, that will reflect in the graph.

11 minutes ago, KSK said:

That large brown square in the middle seems to suggest otherwise

I don't think we can infer that.  That square is number of posts, not number of questions asked.  You could easily have a 10:1 ratio of Answers to Questions.  The size of the square could indicate we're a knowledgeable, helpful bunch just as easily as we're all a bunch of noobs who can't get to orbit.  No way to know without parsing every single thread.

 

*-I am not a statistician.  Just how I'm interpreting the pretty colored boxes up there.

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1 hour ago, KSK said:

But in any case I was thinking more about the comparatively small number of posts to the Daily Kerbal, Announcements, anything Making History related and, to a lesser extent, Welcome Aboard. In other words, the sub forums at least notionally associated with news from Squad, new players and new official content.

Sure, they're pretty small, but I'd be careful about reading too much into it.  Things can be well-populated or sparse for a variety of reasons, and all of those make perfect sense to me that they'd be relatively small:

  • Daily Kerbal:  This is only official pronouncements from the company, and players' direct responses thereto.  There are hundreds of thousands of players and only a few Squadders, so seems perfectly reasonable to me that the volume there would be a lot lower.  When you have a tiny handful of people talking to a few hundred thousand, you're going to get a much smaller volume than when you have hundreds of thousands of people talking to hundreds of thousands of people.
  • Announcements:  Same deal as Daily Kerbal (to an even greater degree, since "Announcements" tends to get reserved for rare-but-important bits of information.)
  • Making History:  I think most of what's going on here is that players end up just ignoring them and using the other forums instead.  People ask Making History questions in Gameplay Questions, and discuss Making History issues in KSP Discussion, all the time.  I suspect that part of that is simple habit (people have been posting in the well-traveled subforums for years, and tend not to switch); part of it is "network effect" (people prefer to post in bigger forums with more posts so that they get more responses / visibility, which ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy).  Plus, of course, these forums are much newer than the others and haven't had as much time to accumulate content.
  • Welcome Aboard:  This one's just math.  A typical forum user may make dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of posts in the forum over the course of their forum "career", but they'll usually just make one or two introductory posts in Welcome Aboard before moving on to other things.

My read of the numbers is that most of it is just the O(N2) effect of large groups talking to themselves.  Forums that tend to be "players talking to each other on an ongoing basis" are generally going to be higher volume than forums that are either "small group talking to players", or places that individuals tend to only post in briefly rather than on an ongoing basis.

 

 

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59 minutes ago, KSK said:

It would be interesting to see a similar breakdown of posts from 2018

Well, without having direct access to the forum's internal database, I don't see any easy way of getting that-- all I have to go by are the total numbers reported on the forum front page.  So, "everything up to now" is about all I can do.

That said, though, it might be kind of interesting to see how this graph looked in the past:)

So, I went off and picked an arbitrary date in the past-- say, early 2013, i.e. late enough that the forum was somewhat "established", early enough that it's long-before-now and might look different.  Then it's off to our friends at the Wayback Machine:  here's a snapshot of the forum front page from July 3, 2013.

Taking those numbers and feeding them into the same sort of graph, here's what the forum looked like then:

h3unOf0.png

It makes for an interesting comparison with the 2018 chart.  It's not quite apples-to-apples, of course, since the forum organization has changed a bit.  But the overall picture looks remarkably similar in terms of the relative sizes of the various groups, for the most part-- for example, the Lounge-equivalent ("The Junkyard") was about the same size as the KSP-Discussion-equivalent ("General Discussion"), same as today.  And so forth.

The one really notable change that jumps out at me is that the "Add-on Releases" is a significantly bigger fraction of the total in 2018 than it was in 2013.  If I had to speculate on the reason, it may just be a matter of "product velocity"-- i.e. back in 2013 the core game was under rapid development and changing a lot, so I expect there would have been a lot of chatter about that as players try to keep up.  In 2018, development has slowed way down (from the players' perspective) for the last couple of years, so I wouldn't be surprised if that tends to shift the forums' "center of mass" farther towards mods.  (Or maybe I'm completely barking up the wrong tree and it might be something more prosaic, like maybe the "Add-on Releases" forum was a relatively recent addition in 2013 and hadn't had as much time to accumulate content, or something.)

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I’m about to get some sleep after a very long day but just wanted to thank @Snark for the second data plot! Looks interesting but further comment will need to wait till I’ve got half a functioning brain. :) 

G’night folks.

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