Allow me to introduce myself. I am Bryon Thur, and my position at Maplesoft is Manager of Web Operations. I am responsible for all of our outward facing web sites, including MaplePrimes. A significant part of my job is in analyzing usage patterns for our various web sites, and as such, I wanted to (as much as I can) address some of the concerns that Jacques and others have addressed in this thread.
MaplePrimes has been, and continues to be, a vital resource for our users. We have many thousands of registered Primes members and among the major areas of our web site (Application Center, Maplesoft Support, Maple 13, Online Help, etc.) it consistently ranks among the top 2 or 3 most popular. As everyone would expect, highest use occurs during the school periods, where it will regularly host 40,000 – 45,000 visits per month. One interesting traffic pattern that we see is that Primes traffic peaks in the 3rd month of a school semester (possibly because of exams), whereas other education-related areas of our site will peak during September and January. So over the next few months, you can all definitely expect an influx of users and questions from new users!
When it comes to specifically addressing Jacques' concern about the decreased “density of new (challenging) questions”, I don't have any insight that answers the whole question, but I do think that some of the stats that I see can shed some light on at least a portion of it. At very least, there are some interesting nuggets of information buried in all of the numbers.
To me, one of the coolest aspects of sites like Primes is its “long-tail effect”, meaning that content on the far ends (tails) of the page view distribution curve get read far more than you would expect for a ‘normal’ section. As an illustration of what I mean by a standard section, let’s look at our Maple 13 pages. In this section, the top few pages will generate 50% or 60% of all the traffic for that section, and the rest of the pages fall off quickly. This is not the case on Primes at all. On MaplePrimes, the top group of pages account for only 12-15% of traffic, and we then have thousands of pages each accounting for a relatively equal, but small, amount of traffic.
The thousands of monthly searches conducted on Maplesoft.com and on MaplePrimes make all of this information easily accessible and result in people finding answers to their questions very quickly, reducing the requirement to post questions. Indeed, many questions that were posted 3 or 4 years ago still rank among our top forum topics (as just one example, this question is still read over 100 times each month: http://www.mapleprimes.com/forum/central-difference-method-third-derivative). Granted, most of these are for relatively simple questions, but a portion of the searches are undoubtedly for the more challenging questions that Jacques alluded to.
I hope that this little bit of analysis gives you some better insight into the inner workings of Primes. Primes receives a lot of attention at Maplesoft, and we certainly appreciate and pay attention to what is being written, so please keep your thoughts, opinions and suggestions coming!