posted on Sep, 2 2004 @ 07:21 AM
ABOUT ABOVE TOP SECRET
The ATS Demographic Profile
Summary of our demographic survey of members.
Currently, the audience that visits and participates in AboveTopSecret.com is the largest and most active of any other online community dealing with
similar topics (politics, political cover-ups, extraterrestrials, and related current events). Over 1,200 registered members visit every day and over
2,000 visit every week. Our members contribute between 2,500 and 3,000 new messages (or posts) on a daily basis, attracting over 30,000 unique
non-member visitors every day.
The raw numbers, while impressive, do little to help us and visitors understand actually who our members are. Often, external analysts may review our
basic subject matter and cast doubt on the actual nature of our membership. Our first-ever demographic survey clarifies our amazing members, and
explains why the quality of our community content attracts so many visitors.
First, a core understanding of the type of person who contributes to online discussion board communities. It's been long established as far back as
1992 by CompuServe and America Online (and more recently by Jupiter Research) that regular participants in online discussion groups are typically
regarded as "thought leaders". This means that, in their offline circle of friends, these people tend to have a strong influence on the opinion and
actions of their peer group. Those who regularly participate in these discussion communities do so out of a desire to learn and share their opinions
with as many as possible. While people who engage in online discussion regularly do so behind a fictional persona, the offline psychographic profile
is still one of a typical "thought leader".
A summary of the survey details from 723 respondents (33% of weekly visitors) is provided below. On the whole, the ATS member is very well educated,
male, over 26-years old, is extremely loyal to the community, and a has been a member more than 6 months.
Age and Gender
The single largest demographic age group on ATS is the ever popular 19-25 segment. 26% of all survey respondents reported being in this age range. If
we project to a "digital" or "millennial" demographic of 13-25, our "digital generation" audience segment is slightly over half at 51%. However,
48% of the online membership of ATS is 26 or over. This was a significant surprise as we expected a much younger skew of our membership. (update: as
the survey extended to one week, we saw these numbers shft slightly -- in the first few days of the survey, our audience skewed slightly older,
indicating our older members are those who tend to visit daily.)
No surprise is a strong male-centric skew with 86% of all respondents reporting to be male, and 14% reporting female. Typically, online communities as
a group tend to be more of a male dominated environment, but our numbers or more male dominated that reported industry averages.
Fully 71% of survey respondents report "some college" education or higher. This means the ATS membership is among the most educated of all online
discussion communities, with industry averages reporting that 63% of community members have "some college" education or higher. In addition, 34% of
respondents report a 4-year degree or higher.
Length of Participation
A reflection of the overall loyalty of membership is seen in this category. Slightly more than 53% of members report coming to ATS for more than nine
months. This is much higher than the reported industry average of 5 months for the typical online community member's active period. (update: during
the first three days of our survey, this number skewed less than 50%, perhaps indicating a portion our long-time members tend not to visit every
Frequency of Visits
Another exceptionally strong indication of the loyalty of the typical ATS member is clearly shown in the reporting of how often they visit ATS. Just
over 75% of all survey respondents report visiting ATS every day (or more than once a day).
A final, and significant attribute of the extremely loyal nature of the typical ATS member is the reporting topics of interest. Nearly half (42%) of
all survey respondents reported that no one single topic drew their interest, but rather the entire community is what interests them the most. The
remainder of the topic choices were a statistical dead-heat with the exception of a significant spike in interest in extraterrestrial-related topics.
The most important added feature of the core ATS community is the collaborative news portal ATSNN with 44% of all survey respondents reporting using
it more than any other added feature. Our blogs and BelowTopSecret.com (off-topic general discussion) combined to total 41%, showing that many of our
members enjoy the core topics, but also enjoy chatting on almost anything with other ATS members.
Finally, as an indication of how well ATS is indexed in search engines, 51% of all respondents report originally discovering ATS through a search
engine search. A strong "word of mouth" component was also reported, as 39% of respondents report first arriving at ATS through a recommendation
(from a friend or website link).
Complete survey results can be reviewed at:
(These numbers have been updated and the report slightly modified after additional responses were received.)