Our poor decisions, followed by a wise one

Our stupidity is fairly clear in this chart, but also clear is, I hope, the fact that we are learning:

Questions per week on WP Questions

You can see the questions per week go up in June and July and August. The increase was partly due to marketing and partly due to positive word of mouth. But you can also see that in August we decided to do something stupid: we put all the answers behind a password wall. Google punished us immediately by cutting its traffic to us by 25%. We thought the password wall would encourage people to sign up, but this was only true of existing readers – we got an initial surge in signups, and then momentum faded.

In September, we reversed course. We opened up the site again, so that anyone can show up and read the answers. Google immediately rewarded us by restoring our previous traffic, which then went up to a new high. And, as you can see, we had more questions posted to the site last week than ever before.

This image from Google Analytics also offers some context:

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