Community Participation – Where do you fall?

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.


About jonathanrose

Raconteur. Intellectual. Showerman.
This entry was posted in Local community, Purley 2.0 - A Project and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Community Participation – Where do you fall?

  1. Paul Harper aka @HonorarySpock says:

    I consider myself one of the, “Heavy Contributors” within my society I work for. We have some who put a lot of work in to run courses and visits to the Norman Fisher Observatory, Kenley, plus our lecture programme at the Royal Russell School, every 2 weeks.

    Obviously we get help from others on an irregular basis, which is useful. However many members do not help. We call them armchair astronomers. Usually they the one first to moan on an issue. Many site they do not have time to help.

    I can accept that in some cases, where young children involved or looking after looking after ill dependants. As well as being a volunteer, I too work full time, but I manage my time as such to do astronomy and scouting. However I have to consider cutting back a bit for sake of my health

  2. Maggie says:

    Good post. I was just going to stumble away without saying anything, but don’t want to be part of the non-contributing 90%…

    I think part of it may be that so many people belong to any number of online communities. Unfortunately, contributing to each of takes work. Although I’m a regular reader of probably 20 blogs, I only regularly contribute of Jezebel, Slate, and WordPress. (And Facebook, of course!)

    • jonathanrose says:

      Maggie, I’m glad you had that change of heart at the last moment!

      You’re right, it’s so easy to be part of the 90% of lurkers as contributing does “take work”.

      Perhaps a remedy if we wish to see our contributions to have more effect would be to focus on a single online community rather than spreading ourselves thinly.

      Just a thought 🙂

  3. Dave Roberts says:

    Perhaps by lurking, ‘lurkers’ are contributing, possibly unwittingly… You seem to know there are ‘lurkers’ looking and and are therefore contributing to the discussion… But I am probably just being my Pharisee self… 😉

    • jonathanrose says:

      Hahaha, very good Dave.

      You’re right that lurkers to contribute, but it’s a passive contribution founded upon other’s taking the initiative to make something of it.

      I suspect I will need to start looking in depth at the degrees of community involvement as I think 90-9-1 are too broad a segmentation.

      Value your thoughts as always Dave 🙂

  4. Wendy Ager says:

    I don’t need to say anything really, do I?!

    I even delayed commenting, so I don’t look like I’m ‘taking over’ the social networking scene and over-contributing!


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