Do we need participation equality in online community?

Jakob Nielsen, one of the web usability experts, wrote in his online newsletter, Alertbox, about online community participation.

User participation often more or less follows a 90-9-1 rule:

90% of users are lurkers (i.e., read or observe, but don’t contribute).
9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time.
1% of users participate a lot and account for most contributions: it can seem as if they don’t have lives because they often post just minutes after whatever event they’re commenting on occurs.

He has some figures to show as evidence, especially on hyperactive users. He also gives some suggestion to better “equalize” it, although there is no way to absolutely overcome as he said.

The question I have for after reading this article is who actually are those “lurkers” in social networking and blogosphere? I think there should be any other things that need to be point out than four types of lurkers listed in Wikipedia which is pretty much based on webboard and chat room users. Also it should be interesting to follow what they do after reading blogs. There might be some hidden actions going on locally. I think those characteristics of these people could lead to the answer why they don’t want to participate?

It is also quite fascinating to me when looking at the group of people in society in hierarchy. First we look at computer owners vs. non-owners, going down to internet users vs. non-users (and could be further down to broadband subscribers vs. non-subscribers). Within the internet user group, we also have active users vs. lurkers. It seems like ever-ending hierarchy.

Talking about hierarchy, I also have a question on what level participation do we have in blogosphere? (searching, reading (critical reading, skim, scan), annotate in a physical book, commenting, tagging, bookmarking, blogging or writing about it somewhere online, forwarding or sharing to friends, etc.) and for social networking like facebook and MySpace? (searching, reading a profile, creating a profile, add someone as friend/acquaint, using features e.g. event and flyer, etc.) And at what level can we call “active” participation in social networking to make it “equally participation”?

One response to “Do we need participation equality in online community?

  1. I see the value of social computing and your comments on Nielsen’s article raise the issue in my ming of the time that it takes to participate in blogs, etc. It may be that social software takes the place of email, but for me I have trouble keeping up with my email let alone finding time for other social computing opportunities. I wonder if this is a generational thing and whether instant messaging, etc. will replace emails (only to be replaced by something else?).


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