Thursday, April 12, 2007

Participation Inequality: Lurkers vs. Contributors in Internet Communities (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

"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."

I got here looking for information (I failed) on why Gmail POP services were down for many people for most of yesterday (the 11th) and there still isn't one single word from Google on the problem (which from some posting on their Groups message system may still be affecting some users). But no, not even an "We're looking into it" post, even though in the above group there is a specific place (thus far unused) for such things.

I have a feeling this participatory thing has something to do with it, or maybe in reverse: Of a companies staff: 90% are tasked to interact with customers, but only 9% make a stab at it, and only 1% get it right. That one percent burns out pretty fast though and transfers to one of the back-room jobs if they are lucky.

Is Google developing a reputation for being disconnected from its users? Aloof, to busy to respond, update status, admit mistakes? Chalk one up for that possibility.

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