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Thread Count + Keeping Up With Things

#1
Hi all, I recently switched over to xenforo and finding it fantastic and it is increasing my users interaction with the site ten fold.

But with success can come some issues and what I am see is people are getting a little concerned about keeping up with things.

I know we have the alerts, what new and I have digital points spy addon which all helps but I am curious on the following -

1) What add ons / tools are you using to keep your users up to date with the forum?

2) Is there an SQL query some one would know so I could get from the database the total amount posts per month for the last 12 months? I could use the statistics feature but mine only begins since my import of VBulletin two months ago and I want to go back a year.

Also I am wondering if there is something like a weekly / daily or similar email digest where you could send users an update of threads that where the busiest for the day or something like this.

Cheers for any ideas!