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May 22, 2007


Jakob Neilsen coined the 90:9:1 rule (at least I think he did - that's where I heard about it anyway) where 90% of the pool of users for a site do nothing other than lurk; 9% do a very small amount of contributing and 1% do a lot. It's always stuck with me when I have discussions about personalisation of our products or have to field the "We should have a forum!" type comments (I work for an STM publishing company - a not for profit one so we aren't evil, promise). The places where comments seem to be most visible (The BMJ does pretty well I think) possibly just tap into a pattern of behaviour that already exists within the particular scientific grouping.

Also... Malcolm Gladwell wrote about Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen in the Tipping Point. I mention this, because I feel that in the blogging arena at least - the bloggers are typically Mavens (Connecting people via the sharing of knowledge). We do these things because we want to share, we want to talk, we want to point out the stuff that is interesting and important. And we are the 1% - at best.

I once looked at an online mailing list in the medical area. It had over 1500 people signed up - so it was a decent size for the scientific area in question. I counted up the number of unique posters over the course of a year. There were 73 if memory serves. the list was hugely popular and really well known and a good number of the big beasts of the field of research observed the list closely. But they lurked. I know they did, because they told me so. 73 contributors, and the reality was that the list was driven by one big personality who liked to run the list, and a few other 'Gurus' who held forth on a regular basis.

Not so much the wisdom of the crowds then.


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