I hit upon a idea about comparing the various Linux distros based on forum statistics. I visited the forums of various popular distros (openSUSE, Fedora, Debian, Mint, Arch, Ubuntu) and then collected the stats displayed on the forums home page.
The first step involved collecting raw data about the number of registered members in each forum and other stuff like number of threads , no of active users etc: I couldn't find active users statistics for all forums and each distro preferred to use a different bulletin board software. I collected screenshots of the stats too as shown below.
Distro Mint Url forums.linuxmint.com Members 81833 Threads 108243
Distro Arch Url bbs.archlinux.org Members 44823 Threads 148545
Distro Debian Url forums.debian.net Members 132589 Threads 69950
Distro Fedora Url fedoraforum.org Members 139147 Threads 267719
Distro Ubuntu Url ubuntuforums.org Members 1762103 Threads 1906499
Distro openSUSE Url forums.opensuse.org Members 71137 Threads 175115
Registered Users :- The number of users in each forum may be taken as some sort of rudimentary proof of popularity of a distro. Ubuntu takes the first place which should not surprise anyone. Fedora and Debian are neck and neck and both of them take the next two places.
Distro Members Ubuntu 1762103 Fedora 139147 Debian 132589 Mint 81833 openSUSE 71137 Arch 44823
No of Threads :- This set of stats threw up a few surprises. openSUSE took third place in the list. I guess old threads were archived by some of the forums.
Distro Threads Ubuntu 1906499 Fedora 267719 openSUSE 175115 Arch 148545 Mint 108243 Debian 69950
No of Threads per member :- I think this stat should tell as to whether the distro is able to sustain interest with its users over longer periods of time. We find that Ubuntu does poorly in this regard. May be unity had a role to play in this. Arch and openSUSE seem to paying more attention to their much smaller communities than some of the more popular distros.
Distro Members Threads Mem Vs Thr
Arch 44823 148545 3.3140352051 openSUSE 71137 175115 2.46165849 Fedora 139147 267719 1.9240012361 Mint 81833 108243 1.3227304388 Ubuntu 1762103 1906499 1.0819452665 Debian 132589 69950 0.5275701604
Conclusion:- It is not enough that a distro is popular . It should pay heed to the needs of its community. All the stats presented are subjective and should be taken with a pinch of salt as many of the distros have been known to conduct day to day discussions on IRC and mailing lists too. It is not being taken into account here :-)