14 04 2009

90-9-190:9:1 is a concept that I come across a lot in my research on online communities.

Commonly used in the US, this theory refers to how people participate in online communities:

–     90 % of people are classified as “lurkers”

–     9% of people are “reactors”, who will comment on others people’s interactions

–     1% of people will create their own content

This rule couldn’t be more accurate when looking at one of the communities that I am managing at the moment.

The 1% of avid contributors, I can now recognise instantly as they enthusiastically jump in with their ideas, aren’t afraid to start their own conversations on the site and are happy to give other members advice.

The 9%, I have also become familiar with their screen names as they constantly come back to answer people’s questions, and express their opinions on other member’s ideas. They also love to correct grammar and spelling, but essentially will always be prompted before they respond.

The 90% refers to the majority of people who like to observe and read, but will rarely participate.

It can be an intimidating prospect to participate in the community arena, by putting your idea or opinion out into the on-line space to then be judged and commented on – it’s easy to see why this definition describes the majority of the members.

While the groups do tend to overlap – how do you convert/encourage the 90% to participate and to become part of the 9% or 1%?

Which percentage best describes your on-line interaction?

For more information on 90:9:1:

Community Guy Jake McKee’s  The 90-9-1 Principle

Jakob Nielson’s “Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute”

Josh Bernoff’s Groundswell post “Reconciling Social Technographics and 90-9-1”



5 responses

14 04 2009


Slot me in between 9 & 90! Enjoying your blogs.

15 04 2009

Haha – will do, I’m a self-confessed lurker/reactor too!

15 04 2009
Angela Connor

Jake offers some really interesting insights into the 90:9:1 Principle that he shared on one of my posts about it. I also go into detail about it in my new book “18 Rules of Community Engagement.” As a community manager, it is easy to see this kind of dynamic at work even if the numbers are off a bit in either direction. What’s important is to constantly work to get more people actively involved and to provide the type of content that will drive participation. I’ve had many new members tell me that they were lurkers for a very long time before finally deciding to jump in. So we can’t discount the lurkers. We have to pay attention to each group, no matter the percentage.

15 04 2009

Yes agree Angela! It is very important to continue to provide interesting and dynamic content and to not disregard the “lurkers” – while they may not be responding, they may be watching! What has encouraged myself on sites to move from the 90 to the 9 or 1 – has been content that has inspired me to react, or by seeing other members who are highly engaged in the community.

17 04 2009

Yeah that’s right. Most people are only going to engage or make comments if they’re confident with the subject matter and feel they aren’t going to be embarrassed by someone for their opinion (or feel like they’ve “said the wrong thing”). It’s quite daunting to make that first step, to move from 90 to 9 and further. I know because I’m speaking from experience, having only in the past few months jumped on the Twitter bandwagon and started to engage in blogs like this. It’s always easier when the community makes you feel welcome though 🙂

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