[Air-l] we need a better word than lurking

Kurt Luther luther at cc.gatech.edu
Mon May 7 15:59:48 PDT 2007

A few relevant readings on the topic, mostly echoing Barry's observations:

Blair Nonnecke and Jenny Preece describe lurker practices and discuss 
some of the problems with defining "lurker." "It is unfortunate that the 
term lurker, with all its negative conntation, has gained 
acceptance...Rather than being free-riders, lurkers should be called 

Brad Horowitz gives his theory of the relationship between what he calls 
creators, synthesizers, and producers. "...we don’t need to convert 100% 
of the audience into 'active' participants to have a thriving product 
that benefits tens of millions of users. In fact, there are many reasons 
why you wouldn’t want to do this. The hurdles that users cross as they 
transition from lurkers to synthesizers to creators are also filters 
that can eliminate noise from signal. "


Barry Wellman wrote:
> John Veitch gave us a useful post that showed that most people Lurk.
> Altho John didn't explicitly say so, the general implication is that
> Lurking Is a Bad Thing.
> But imagine if everybody was actively contributing all the time. We'd be
> filled with noise. (As it is, I wonder about some of the posts on this
> list, including mine;-))
> I absolutely don't want my 13-year old cousin (whom I love dearly) to
> contribute to the Social Networks article, or probably anything else. Nor,
> in fact, do I want some ignorant person to contribute.
> I am not for credentialism, but I am for knowledge and expertise.
> Indeed, 99% of the time, I am a Reader only of Wikipedia articles. I try
> only to contribute when I actually know something, like Social Network,
> Bronx High School of Science, and Barbra Streisand.
>  Barry Wellman
>  _____________________________________________________________________
>   Barry Wellman   S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology   NetLab Director
>   Centre for Urban & Community Studies          University of Toronto
>   455 Spadina Avenue    Toronto Canada M5S 2G8    fax:+1-416-978-7162
>   wellman at chass.utoronto.ca  http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman
>         for fun: http://chass.utoronto.ca/oldnew/cybertimes.php
>  _____________________________________________________________________
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