Jakob Nielsen’s study in 2006 showed that in any online community:
90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.
This has subsequently known as the ’90-9-1 Rule’.
The study goes on to say:
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.
Since the study is from four years ago I suspect the nature of the online groups studied have changed. The birth of more dynamic social platforms such as Twitter means that information is exchanged, created and spread at much faster speeds that just four years ago. I would hope then, that there has been a greater shift in online communities from mere spectators to active participators since social media has made it easier than ever to engage.
As I continue with the Purley 2.0 Project, my challenge is to not just to promote it to people, but also get them involved and actively making it happen.
I don’t know if Nielsen’s study is applicable to offline community but I do hope that my initiative to create a vibrant local community (both online and offline) will not fall on the 1% but instead shouldered by more and more people.
If you want to know how you can go from lurker to a worker (ha!), check out this post.