Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(February 2003)

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Subject: not about (was Re: PLEASE DO NOT CC ME ON MESSAGES TO THIS
From: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 12:55:45 -0800
To: J C Lawrence <claw @ kanga . nu>
Cc: bwarsaw @ python . org (Barry A. Warsaw), Tom Neff <tneff @ grassyhill . net>, list-managers @ greatcircle . com
In-reply-to: <23445 . 1046202941 @ kanga . nu>

Yep, and in fact that's how I read list-managers, so I appreciate the
extra CC.

I observe a growing divide between the contributing audience and the
leeching audience...

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 contribute?

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 has.

2) I don't feel qualified to comment on it. (which I can say is definitely not true for many of the lurkers I've talked to, but in many cases, it's a polite
	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, too.

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
chuq @
apple .

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From: J C Lawrence <claw @ kanga . nu>
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From: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
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From: bwarsaw @ python . org (Barry A. Warsaw)

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