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”