An interesting discussion on SOTA_Australia about perceived declining SOTA activity prompted this question from Paul VK3HN, and my response below
The correlation between Yahoo group messages and SOTA related activity can obviously be challenged — it could be the popularity of this group has waned but the number of activations has not. A more telling analysis would be to report on SOTAWatch alerts by VKs per month over the previous 5 years. Anyone care to do that?
Straight from the horse’s database, we have activation counts grouped by month (where callsign starts with VK or AX):
and as a measure of how many new people are coming in, this is the monthly count of activators for whom this is their first activation in the database (again, where callsign starts with VK or AX):
The first definitely shows a bell curve, complete with peaks at the New Year UTC rollover point. As people say, this is most likely correlated to sunspot cycle, but also I imagine that the early adopters aren’t getting out as much. Personally, I feel like I’ve hardly done any activating this year – most of my SOTA this year has been IT related!
The second graph is more important and that shows that the rate of new activators joining is only slightly down on the overall trend, with a few peaks probably associated with AR articles or the like. Interestingly, October last year was the only month where there wasn’t at least one new activator in VK. That’s suggests there’s still life in the old nag yet.
Equivalent chaser graphs could be generated of course, and I’ve not done detailed scrutiny on the veracity of the numbers, but a quick check seems sane.