Yep, and in fact that's how I read list-managers, so I appreciate the
I observe a growing divide between the contributing audience and the
and RSS and other technologies will only increase the size of the
passive audience. I've gone back and forth over whether this is good or
bad, and finally decided to not worry about it. As long as you have a
viable user population, does it matter that some folks choose to not
I've actually spent time tracking down and interviewing lurkers, to see
why they lurk. It pretty much boils down to:
1) by the time I'd get around to saying something, someone else already
2) I don't feel qualified to comment on it. (which I can say is
true for many of the lurkers I've talked to, but in many cases, it's a
way of saying:)
3) I don't feel like fighting for face time on the list.
and the reality is, not everyone feels the need to fight to be heard,
and on many lists there's enough volume and, well, outgoing
personalities, that getting a word in edgewise is simply seen as more
hassle than it's worth.
We've been experimenting with "lurker days" with some success. They're
periods of time where the regular posters shut up and listen, and allow
some breathing room for the rest of the list without the lurkers having
to fear having to crawl into the mosh pit. The lurkers like it, for the
most part the NON-lurkers like it and it gets more people involved in
contributing. it allows lurkers to comment on ongoing threads without
the pushback of those with forceful personalities (i.e.: me and people
like me) and to say things that those of us who enjoy flapping our gums
hadn't thought to talk about. it's caused a couple of lurkers to come
out and graduate, too, once they saw they weren't going to get pulped,
And it's funny what you can learn when you shut up and listen, if you
actually shut up and listen, not just shut up...
I don't think it's right for all lists, but I do think it's a way to
better tie into more of the user base in a low-key, low-stress way.
Some folks simply enjoy listening to what others have to say, and some
folks don't mind contributing, but aren't into the most pit aspect
lists can have. And lurker days are a way to give them some way to
contribute on THEIR terms, not ours. And I like that. even if I have to
sit on my hands for 24 hours...
Chuq Von Rospach, Architech, Apple IS&T E-mail systems