[drupal-devel] Community density... And the Lurkers shall Inherit the Web

Sohodojo Jim salmons at sohodojo.com
Fri May 6 14:46:01 UTC 2005

-1 on purging lurkers.

Karoly Negyesi wrote:

>Last night I asked Steven to send me data about how many users have 1 node, 2 nodes and so on.
>Of the 22695 users, 18219 have zero nodes. This means that most of the users are just commenting or not contributing at all. 
    These numbers are not surprising, in fact, they verify that the 
Drupal community is a scale-free network as are most on-line communities.

    I did a similar analysis last year of an on-line community for 
social entrepreneurs and got similar numbers. I was excited as this 
showed that this community was behaving as would be expected for a 
scale-free network. When I presented the analysis as part of a review of 
Albert-László Barabási's book, "Linked: The New Science of Networks" 
(http://www.nd.edu/~networks/linked/), I was summarily read the riot act 
and told that the data was private and the article was not to be 
published on the community's web site nor anywhere else.

    In other words this on-line community took the "appalling results" 
of lots of non-participants as an indictment of the failure of the 
community. On the contrary, the community was behaving exactly as a 
scale-free network behaves.

    "Non-participant" members are members of the community as much as 
anyone. Lurking (and learning) is a form of silent/invisible 
participation, but it is participation nonetheless. To delete someone 
for not posting nodes in an inadvertent slap in the virtual face. 
Joining an on-line community is a way of defining who we are. I would 
sure hate to tell somebody that their decision to be part of the 
community was rejected by the community because his or her style of 
participation was somehow "not worthy" to borrow Wayne and Garth's turn 
of phrase.

    For more on this phenomena, see Clay Shirky's excellent blog article 
"Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality" 


	Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky
	Founders and Research Directors
	Sohodojo - http://sohodojo.com

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