Lurkers and the 90-9-1 rule...
Blogged by James Preece on 21st December 2012
I don't know if you've ever seen this statistic that tends to hold (very roughly) true for most online communities, blogs, forums, etc...
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.
The numbers might not be perfectly accurate, but they are not far wrong. This blog receives between 400 and 500 visitors a day and gets 4 or 5 comments from the same small group of regular hardcore contributors - that's your 1% right there.
Meanwhile, the 'regulars' are vastly outnumbered by the many, many readers who only comment now and then. There loads of these more occasional commenters but because they only comment now and then their contribution gets swamped in the day to day comments of the regulars.
Then there's the lurkers.. the silent majority. This is most of you. Whether you are a regular, an occasional commenter or a lurker... you are all very welcome.
Why do I mention this?
Firstly, because I want to remind you that the passion you see in comments may not be representitive of the majority. The more regular commenters are people who feel strongly enough to put the effort in. They tend to be fired up, hot blooded and passionate about what they are saying.
It's good to be passionate but there is a risk that to the untrained eye your passion looks like uncharitable angry ravings. I would be grateful if you would all try to be a little more courteous and gentle? Wise as serpents, gentle as doves... that kind of thing. Bear in mind that your words on this blog might be the only experience of the Church some people have.
Which brings me to my second point, that the ideas you see in comments on this blog may be representitive of the majority. If one in ten regulars is a secularist with relativistic ideas, circular contradictory arguments and a fantastical faith in the mystical power of democracy to decine moral truth... well, it's possible that one in ten lurkers falls in to that category as well.
So while we might be tempted to tell one person that we've heard his views, had a go at responding to them and found him frustrating, evasive and circular.. I don't think we can say the same thing about what could well be 30 to 40 visitors a day and is almost certainly more than one.
The passion may not be representitive - but the ideas expressed probably are. The muddled thinking we hear from New Friend is the same muddled thinking I hear all the time from family, friends and colleagues in the real world. He's at the passionate end of the scale, but he's far from alone in thinking muddled thoughts.
The proper way to respond is to patiently explain where he is going wrong. Over and over again if necessary. Call it apologetics, call it evangelisation, call it corporal mortification if you like.. It's not fun and it's not easy but it is a work of mercy and I think it's important.
Meanwhile, to all the lurkers I woud say this: You are very welcome to lurk, but I would also love to hear from you. Please do consider commenting, it's very easy to do and it makes me happy!