Anyone have any theories?
Only Admin knows the actual traffic count here. What we're perceiving may be short-term subjective. Sorta like when a place in the US gets a big snowstorm, and people say "See, there's no global warming." But they ignore the global temperature averages & trends, and the hotter summers, and climate changes they don't personally experience in their little corner of the Earth.
We just finished a US Presidential election, which generates peak RJ forum traffic for about 6 months. After that deluge anything seems relatively quiet in comparison.
Plus the Conservaposse ran for cover after they got their tails burned in November. Their controversial posts tend to generate a lot of traffic. Only now are they finally starting to reemerge from hiding. But if you subtract their politically and socially conservative posts (anti-liberal and gay hostile), the traffic on other topics here is about the same.
I know, I'll get dinged for making this "political", but politics forms a significant part of our online traffic. If you wanna analyze our usage patterns you cannot omit politics.
I remember shortly after I joined RJ that a chronic troublemaker & provocateur, who's still here, boasted to me that he'll never get booted from this site. He told me no matter what he posts, because he generates so much traffic, which ultimately equals revenue, that the owners can't afford to yank him.
I don't know if that's true or not, but I note that he's still here, despite having violated almost every TOU/TOS rule in the RJ book. A member even told him he thinks he may be an RJ owner/investor, making him immune from permanent removal, his past brief bans being for show.
I dunno, that's rumor & speculation. But I do know any online site brings in more money from advertisers when the traffic is higher. Therefore a little controversy can be good for business, provided it doesn't drive subscribers away.