Participation inequality

August 6, 2007

At last week’s Wiki Wednesday in London David Terrar started a group discussion about “Participation Inequality” and Jacob Neilsen’s 90-9-1 rule of user participation.

Neilsen observes that:

“All large-scale, multi-user communities and online social networks that rely on users to contribute content or build services share one property: most users don’t participate very much. Often, they simply lurk in the background…

  • 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.

Obviously “large-scale” (i.e. public wikis like Wikipedia, Wikia and Yellowikis) have different dynamics and motivations from those found in enterprise wikis but nobody at Wiki Wednesday really knew what levels of participation a business might expect behind a firewall – it also occurred to me that different wiki platforms might well show up different levels of user engagement.

Is this something that Cases2.0 might reveal?

3 Responses to “Participation inequality”


  1. […] and other blogs of the evening: My Flickr photos Zbigniew Lukasiak  Phil Jones Links and Anchors […]


  2. […] and other blogs of the evening: My Flickr photos Zbigniew Lukasiak  Phil Jones Links and Anchors […]

  3. Liz Says:

    I think that WikiHow has a “most active” or “top contributors” list.

    As you say, a small amount of contributors tend to be extremely active. Since it’s possible to figure that out by poking around or monitoring recent changes pages, wiki software might as well make it easy for the casual contributor or lurker to figure out who the very active participants are. It doesn’t “create” experts, but it makes expertise or high activity more transparent.


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