You know, I'm not sure that your idea was part of the plan, but there are some good ideas for future programs, NASA or not. I don't think anyone is monitoring it now, nor do I think anyone is introducing variables to this. However, I think it is possible that the data on our efforts could be examined when we are done to look at our behavior patterns and see what happened. It would be interesting to me, with a background in the field. I also see how it might help find the points where the interest was low and look at why.
However, there is one part missing from this idea, the interview. The data can only say that at this time, interest was up and at this time, interest was down. But it cannot account for why. From a social point of view, the behavior of the masses cannot be easily explained. Unless we were given questions, it would be too difficult to predict. For example, if the VM was not used much on 10/5/06, why not? Who wasn't on it? Was a particular nation not using it? Was someone having a national holiday or did something happen to distract the volunteers (global news event)? Was there a virus that was threatening to explode that day? Was the northern hemisphere just getting kids back to school? (By the way, enjoy your spring, those of you down there! Don't make fun of us when it's snowing here!)
There are many variables and although that is what sociology is about, it simply cannot be considered a reliable and valid study if the results cannot be accurate. However, if they want to examine our behavior and see if they can make a best guess about what happened, then use that to change their behaviors to improve volunteer involvment in future projects - Woo Hoo!
So, I hope that helps the little nag in your mind. Will our data be used to predict behavior for future projects, perhaps. But our behavior is studied constantly, especially for marketing. It there anything more sinister than that? From my point of view, no. There are too many other variables that are not controlled.
Thanks for the little mental challenge, perhaps you did this as part of your own experiment to see the behaviors of the volunteers and acceptance to consipracy theories!