As a Moderator, especially after many years of being one, you get to see everything that happens, including trends and patterns and peoples' likes and dislikes, and so on.
The way that the forum is now set up, new members are required to post an introductory post before doing anything else on the forum. Part of this approach, which Steve introduced over the past year or so, is an anti-spam measure. And it works well. We have cut down spammer and malicious activity significantly, and I no longer wake up every morning to several spammers and troublemakers who penetrated the forum overnight while I was asleep. We still have new members who try to sneak ads into their introductory posts or in their signature lines or avatars but Bill and I are onto those people and they will be detected almost immediately and they will not get very far. In some cases, they are summarily banned.
But, introductory posts also gives new members an opportunity to introduce themselves and for other members to get to know them a bit better. I personally enjoy reading the introductory posts of new members. However, many people--maybe even most of them--register on the forum simply because they cannot get access to the things that interest them if they are just a Guest. A Guest cannot conduct searches, enter posts (e.g., to ask questions or seek other help), exchange PMs with other members, view any member profile information, or even see who is online at any given time. Navigating the forum as a Guest is extremely difficult. Guests have to enter the indexing system, find an entry point, and scan the threads (usually many pages worth) until they find the thread that interests them. That is time consuming and painful. I know because from time to time I will log off of the forum and pretend that I am a Guest looking for something. But with a few simple keystrokes, a Guest can quickly become a registered member and have access to all of the information they want without any fuss or bother. It is really a no-brainer.
A good part of the traffic on the forum is people who are looking for recipes, just as they might look for recipes elsewhere on the Internet, as I myself have done on many occasions. They are especially interested in clones of their favorite chain pizza or local pizzeria. That is how a thread like the Papa John's thread, with little recent activity, can get to #8 on the forum's top ten threads by page views (it has over 106,000 page views). The same pattern can be seen in the American board, since that is where the threads where most chain pizzas posts are kept.
I suspect that the vast majority of new members do not join to become active members of the forum. The reality is that very few members escape their introductory posts into the main forum. I believe that is what you have been seeing. I might add that some of our members are thoughtful enough to take the time to welcome new members after they have introduced themselves. I only do that occasionally, with special reason, because I know that over 95 percent of the new registered members will not escape their introductory posts and will be gone shortly thereafter, although they may revert to being lurkers at that point.
I wouldn't hold my breath that many people will see this thread. Most people who visit the forum are not interested in the forum or any related statistics or anything else like that. Look at the page views of the threads under Forum Info and you will see what I mean. For the most part, they are also not looking for a social component, like virtual or real-world friendships, as have occurred with many of our core members, yourself included. They are really only interested in pizza and having access to the information they need to make pizza. And most of them have only standard home ovens at their disposal (many of our members live in apartments), not wood-fired ovens, although LBEs and MBEs are hot topic areas at the moment, as is the Neapolitan style. scott123 is perhaps almost singlehandedly putting home pizza makers on the map even with their standard home ovens, with his steel stones help and oven mods
We have a lot of very nice people who come to the forum. And I try not to predict who will stay or who will go when I decide to help them, although I am well aware of what the statistics are.
I think some of the recent posters have talked me into trying to come up with a checklist
. I am scheduled to be on vacation starting later this week, so maybe I will find some time to generate such a checklist.