Really good Jakob Nielsen article on Particpation, just a few quotes:
In most online systems, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.
Promote quality contributors. If you display all contributions equally, then people who post only when they have something important to say will be drowned out by the torrent of material from the hyperactive 1%. Instead, give extra prominence to good contributions and to contributions from people who’ve proven their value, as indicated by their reputation ranking.
Signal-to-noise ratio. Discussion groups drown in flames and low-quality postings, making it hard to identify the gems. Many users stop reading comments because they don’t have time to wade through the swamp of postings from people with little to say.
Customer feedback. If your company looks to Web postings for customer feedback on its products and services, you’re getting an unrepresentative sample.
This is something I find common with online groups. I think I fit in to the 9% (or less) that contribute from time to time because:
- I have “other priorities which dominate [my] time”
- I want to have a valuable opinion and not just fill up space (which is why I find discussions so hard to filter through all the comments to find the gems).
The article is here: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html
Let me know your thoughts.