Forum topics down :-)

Recently Ike Roelfsema, Head of Communities and Forum Operations at Skype, published a quite interesting blogpost concerning the Skype Forum with as title: “Skype, Skyper, Skypest”.

And Tamas Henning, the guy who developed the new forum also expressed his feelings in “Flip the switch”.

Let me now comment on this and let us look at the graph of new topics on the forum (see the blue curve).
The first thing you can see is that right after the launch of the new forum on April 17 (see the green line on the graph) the new topics went down to less then 30 per day. Tamas explains this like this: “Of course there has been a slight drop at the beginning but come on when you release something new this is to be expected.”. Very plausible of course, and indeed the number of new topics went up again very fast in the next days.

There has however been a downward trend, from about 80 new topics per day in March to about 50 in May. This is clearly NOT due to the new layout of the forum. The red trend line shows a downward tendency in front of the green line, and the downward tendency continues after the launch of the new forum!

Does it mean the Skype Forum is not attractive anymore? I don’t think so. Everybody knows that most people visit a forum because they have an issue to resolve! The forum is the best way to get help anyway!

Why is there a monthly decline of new topics per day? My guesses are:
Ike says also “The forum users in their 50’s have most difficulties with the new way it is designed”. Well i am 51, and after experimenting with it, i have to admit i like the new design: it is innovating, it is nice to look at, and there are more features. I hope she didn’t think about me when stating that 50+ bullshit


1000 UNRESOLVED issues

It is a pity how some bloggers misinterpret words and numbers. One guy blogged with the following title: 740 unsolved problem on Skype since 2006.
Well, he is twice wrong, it is not “PROBLEM” but “ISSUES” and it is not 740 but almost 1000!

Issues” on the Skype Developer Zone include BUGS, improvement requests, new feature requests, and so on! It concerns also ALL the clients for which there is a Skype version, including the Pocket PC and the Smartphones!

Therefore, let’s look ONLY to the bugs. There are 43 bugs with status “open, in progress, or reopened” for the Windows client. Digging deeper into them you can see that some are quite trivial, some are more serious.

Worse are the “234 new” Windows BUGS. Reading some of the titles, i saw quite a lot of duplicates, even some with the mention “fixed”, or some very trivial ones like a “typing mistake”.
I guess the “NEW" category are the bug reports that were not thoroughly analysed yet. Therefore quite a lot of them are probably not bugs. Be aware that bug reports can be filed by quite a lot of people, and most aren't Skype Staff!

Please do your homework again a1gjv. And please Skype, clean up the "NEW" list and solve the bugs!


Don’t answer, IGNORE ALIENS!

It is a plague, but it isn’t worse then viruses!

I got 3 times the same mail message from supposedly PayPal asking me to check my account (i have an account but inactive since years). Just to see what would happen i clicked on the link (don’t do it!) and FireFox warned me i shouldn’t continue! Right answer!
Then I got another mail from Mister Unknown To Me asking me to join his Skype Business Control Panel. What the heck? Will he offer me free credit?I checked the website, nothing wrong at first sight (but i didn’t dig deeper, too scared) and checked also for the Skype Username, hmm … strange. Doesn’t seem trustful!

Then my new girlfriend tried to chat with me, but i didn’t feel in the mood to answer her. Don’t contact her either, or i guarantee that nasty things could happen to you! But i swear i will have nothing to do with it!
Like i said, not worse than computer viruses, because if you don’t do anything, nothing weird will happen. Just don’t answer, don’t react. See also the interesting post of my friend Nafcom here: Account spam in the Skype and ICQ network

When could you however react? Well, look at my previous blogpost: i got a call and contact request from somebody i didn’t know, BUT … there was a very clear personal message: he said he wanted to talk about my blog, therefore i accepted to chat with him!


Hiding and showing avatars?

Today i received at the same time a call and a chat message of an unknown person. Lucky for me, this time it was a “serious” request, and not a “sex chat” request from a girl from Ghana or any other part of the world. Well, Skype has to fine tune its new release if they want to be consequent with themselves .

In the new release of the Skype 3.8 client there is this new “feature”, with this explanation:
In addition, we’ve hidden the avatar by default in incoming authorization requests. Some people have been using images that others don’t find all that pleasing.
But what about “unwanted calls”?
As you can see, the avatar shown in the chat request is hidden by default, but the avatar from the call is shown! Therefore, even for “new callers” they should hide the avatar by default if they want to be consequent!


Shifts in website visits

In January i expressed my surprise on the 4 smaller countries in the top 5 of Skype.com visitors.

Then some weeks ago i caught again data from the Alexa website. And i did it again on May 1.

The table below shows the top 5 visiting countries of the Skype.com websites on those 3 different dates.
Here the objective remarks:
  1. In January 16.5% of the visits came from 4 smaller emerging countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Algeria and Slovakia), and 9% from "Big Brother" U.S.A.;
  2. On April 15, one of the smaller countries left the top 5 and was replaced by … China!
  3. On May 1st, all the smaller countries left the top 5, and were replaced by 3 big rich industrialised countries (Germany, Italy, United kingdom);
  4. The U.S.A. has reinforced its first position: it has more then doubled its share of the website visits, with 20% of all the visits;
  5. China also increased its share and rose from the third position to the second position;
  6. About 25% of the visits came from the top 5 countries in January and April 15, and rose quite spectacularly to 43% after April 21!.
Now the “why’s” and of course, here i am speculating, because i don’t have access to the commercial data of Skype related to purchases or downloads or new user accounts per country:
  1. In January the smaller emerging countries were in the top 5 because they invest heavily in fast internet connections, which means that people now have the possibility to use Skype, therefore … more website visits!
  2. The addition of China in the top 5 is a confirmation that the Chinese internet penetration is accelerating;
  3. Skype launched its new calling subscription plan on April 21. A lot of people from rich countries went to the website to check the prices;
  4. The interest of the USA in the new subscription plan is also very clear!
  5. And China continues to grow!
  6. Spending money on Skype is a rich countries business!
Does this mean that the new subscription plan is a success? I don’t know. I also took a look at the website, but didn’t subscribe. Huge amounts of new customers could also mean a lot of new downloads, and i don't notice anything there, see my previous post. I think it will be a shift in consumption pattern for some people, and this does not necessarily mean an increase in revenue for Skype.


Download slowdown & bug

Vengeance and hatred is not a good motivator to blog. Jamie Watson helped a lot of Skype forum visitors, especially on video problems, until he was banned because he didn’t respect some basic forum behaviour rules. Since that time he is – through his blog - throwing around a lot of bullshit, lies, exaggerations, and statements taken out of their context, only to satisfy his own ego! This is a pity, he is loosing every bit of credibility!

My time to complain however! I tried to download the new Skype client version “” on my Windows XP laptop, and i got the older 3.6 version. I even tried to download it through 3 different browsers. Then i tried it on my “Vista Desktop” and hurrah! I could download the latest version without problems. Strange that Skype doesn’t solve that bug, it is already many months old! Confusing for inexperienced computer users and bad for the image of Skype! Not everyone is affected however. But the good news, and whatever Jamie Watson will tell you: the new version solved some problems for me, and the call quality is excellent as almost always!

More about the downloads …

As suddenly as the speed of downloads went up around the end of February, as suddenly it went down around April 15. I speculated that the rise of downloads was due to the Oprah Winfrey effect in the USA, but why did it stop so suddenly (see the red curve on the graph below)?It even seems that the download speed is lower then at the beginning of this year.
There is however no clear correlation between the number of downloads and the users online:
  • From January 1 till April 7 "peak users online" grew with 2 million!
  • The increase of download speed started at February 25 and stopped at April 17
  • "Peak users online" went slightly down from 12.7 million to 12.4 million at peak time in the last 4 weeks!
Why are "concurrent users online" not growing anymore? I can only speculate here …
I guess Christmas presents end of 2007 generated some indirect Skype boosting effects:
  • new computers, webcams, Skype compatible phones, upgrades to Windows Vista, mobiles with internet access, etc. ... but the effect of this on Skype has stopped!
  • and, the Oprah Winfrey effect also stopped.
Again: this is only speculation!