Mum’s The Word . . . Or is it?

Heidi Cohen advertises herself as offering “practical advice” . . . and she DOES.

Lurkers and others:

For proof, look no further than her recent post titled 21 Reasons Why We Lurk which is a very comprehensive list of reasons why people visit and read webpages or blogs, but do not add anything to the mix.

I could have come up with maybe 10 of these at best, but my list would have skewed heavily toward reasons that reflect poorly on lurkers.  This reflects my ongoing dissatisfaction with the level of discourse that I see online.  Heidi has done a much more balanced analysis and I recommend you read her post.


A number of things contribute to the general lack of response and Heidi has done a good job of noting them.  Let me add just two thoughts:

“Like” Buttons

If you had not noticed, buttons which allow us to quickly and easily register our general opinion of someone’s offerings are becoming ubiquitous.  When you can make a quick “Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down” decision, this may reduce the need in your mind to offer any more thoughts.

In other words, we learn lazy thinking practices by letting the buttons do our talking for us.

Communities of Practice

While blogs may languish from lack of comments, more focused online communities are doing better at stimulating discussion and participation.

As a good example, Jane Hart recently launched a social learning community that is rolling along nicely with multiple comments by different folks.  If you are a social learning professional, check Jane’s community out using the link below, but be ready to take part:

C4LPT: Jane Hart     @C4LPTC4LPT: Jane Hart~Social Learning Community is a new community for those interested in the use of social media to work & learn smarter

Communities are probably the future of online discussions and the death of blogs as we now know them.


Maybe all this is simply the persistent application of the Pareto Principle, as dissected in Debunked.  I am not a great fan of how we tend to generalize everything into 80/20 ratios and the article linked above will tell you why.

What I do like is the idea of the Vital Few and Trivial Many“. where we recognize that a smaller number of people are responsible for movement, growth, and energy, while a larger number just hang on for the ride.  I just wish that Joseph Juran had chosen another word than “trivial”, which is incorrect and demeaning.

Without everyone’s contributions and efforts, nothing gets done.  I do not care how energetic a few leaders are, they do little without motivating and influencing others. 


If you are normally a lurker, why do you not respond?

What would motivate you to respond more often?

Why am I asking questions addressed to the people least likely to answer them?

Feeling a tad silly about that last question in the Heartland . . .