Lurkers creep me out...

…observing without participating. Kind of like Peeping Toms. Does it give anybody else the heebie jeebies?

Not really, no.

You’re on a public* messageboard. You may as well post the things you type here on a billboard next to the freeway; anyone can see them who bothers to look. If you don’t want people seeing them, don’t post them. Also, of course, once you post them they’re out there on the ether FOREVER (or potentially so; they may get deleted at some point but you can’t count on it). Those are the rules of the game.

  • in terms of visibility, not ownership.

Experience tells us that in general on the Internet, for every post there are 10 views. If you look at the post/view ratio here and in most messageboards, you also find that number on average.

So, many people are lurker in one thread, poster in another.

Of course there may be people who never post here and prefer to lurk. But I don’'t think of that as creepy. They are just audience. They tune in, like or dislike what they read, and go on with their day, just like you do when you read something on the net and don’t leave a comment.

I spent quite a bit of time lurking on this board, as well as others, before joining.

I do so because I find most boards as a result of some Google search at the time, then stumble upon discussions that may or may not seem interesting. Instead of signing up for every forum that may come up, I read to see what the general mood/environment is like, and if I like it, I sign up.

To the credit of this board, there are a lot of smart and interesting people, here.

Lurkers only creep me out in the sense that I can’t imagine having that amount of self-restraint. :smiley:

There are some old threads (at least a year ago I’m thinking) where lurkers were invited to “break their silence” and identify themselves. Surprisingly, dozens joined in and some have become active posters since then. Perhaps the invitation to “speak up” was all it took for them to do it, or maybe the time was right, but in any case their numbers (that 10-to-1 number may be on the short side) were impressive.

Every now and then some question about “active users” will get some traction for a few days and the counts shown on the opening page will be explained and elaborated. But there are many people who pass through and never leave a trace.

Just how many websites do you visit and never leave a post or a comment? In my case there must be at least 20. Maybe over 100.

Hi there, Lurkers! You might take this negative comment about you as a dare and just treat it as an invitation to “give us a holler.”

Or not…


In grad school I took a class on “Online Communities” and we covered lurking in some detail.

A quick summary would be that, for any given website/forum/etc, 90% of the people that read it never contribute a single post, and 90% of the posts come from 10% of the people actually posting. So 90% of the content of any given site comes from 1% of the audience. That ratio is a little higher for general interest boards and a little lower for specialty boards, btw.

One thing the professor mentioned was that this was actually a good thing for most boards. It gives new participants a way to observe and understand the culture of a board before jumping in, thereby prevent major culture clash every time a new member comes along.

Missed the edit window, but try Reformed Lurkers’ Chat Space as an instance of those old threads.

I lurked here for about 6 years before joining. I hope that doesn’t make me creepy.

Checking the bottom of Straight Dope Message Board just a few moments ago showed:

That’s not quite 5% of the “Members” are “Active.”

Oh, no, it’s not that.

I have no problem with lurkers. They always support me in e-mail. :wink:

I lurked for years on the usenet group, and maybe even posted there. I lurked here for a few years before joining, then mostly lurked for a while after joining, but before first posting.

What an odd thing to have as a pet peeve.

No, not really…
By the way, I saw you last night typing on that small keyboard from Toys-R-Us, it was hawt! :wink:

I lurk between posts. I hope that’s not a problem :rolleyes:

Hi, my name is NoClueBoy and I’m a lurker.

Lurking is a generally a good thing. If everyone posted to every thread they read, it would look like youtube comments. As mentioned upthread, different types of threads and message boards will have different levels of participation.

For instance, I love reading up on a lot of the physics related threads we have on these forums, but as I’m not a physicist by trade, I’ve probably only had something productive to add a couple of times. OTOH, I’m a computer scientist by trade, so I’ll be more likely to post in those sorts of threads, not that they come up too often. This is good because people who are less knowledgeable are just goign to clutter up the thread. Moreso, if they do feel an obligation to contribute for the content they consume in specialized threads, they can make up for it by contributing in those sorts of threads where they do have specialized knowledge.

You’ll also probably notice that more of the general interest threads not only tend to have more participation, but from a larger group of people. But at the same time, sometimes I have something interesting to contribute, and a I do, sometimes it’s a good read but I don’t have anything to say that someone else hasn’t, so why make a “+1” post?

It might bother me if someone lurks at every single forum they use and never add anything meaningful back to the community in some way, but really, how would I know? It’s not something worth thinking about just to get worked up over nothing.

I don’t think that is the same thing. Active Members have logged in in the last X days (say, a month). So those 143,478 members are people who have signed up in the past but may never have returned. The 7,136 Active Member are active in the past year. And of those, about 10 percent, 700 posters, (according to yellowjacketcoder’s professor) make over 90% of the posts.

So we have 700 people reading and often posting, and about 6500 people mostly reading and occasionally posting.

Sounds about right.

are not :wink: