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Adolescent Diary Weblogs and the Unseen Audience

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New books are added but reading status is rarely accurate.

January 11, 2006

National De-Lurking Week

I have been amuzed by all of the academic blog posts I have seen announcing National De-Lurking Month Week. One after another they implore, cajole, and order lurkers on their blogs to uncloak themselves by commenting. However this set of tactics completely misses what lurking is all about.

Lurkers are the vast majority of any sites traffic. They come they read they think about or comment on with other folks or giggle or whatever appropriate response is required, to the posts they read. And then they move on. Lurkers are the meat of running a website, the glue that holds a community together.

I've always found it interesting in discussions of online community that lurkers are looked down up on as somehow being takers but never givers. I would, and have, suggested that those that feel that way should visit a town meeting in some small community. If you do take on this terrestrial task you will find that the vast majority of those in attendance are talking among themselves, or not at all, very few stand to talk to those running the meeting.

De-lurking is like standing up at that meeting. Most people don't add their comments and that is fine by me. I like lurkers...but then again I am a professional lurker. So if you lurk come on over, sit down read a few posts, think about them, come back for more in the future, all of that is welcome here. And no one will force you to comment unless you want to, of course comments are welcome if you have something to say...we like that too.

Posted by prolurkr at January 11, 2006 09:20 AM

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National De-Lurker Month? What a concept!

I don't send letters to the authors of most books I read. I probably average one Letter to the Editor for every, oh, 2000 magazines/journals I read.

So why would I comment at every blog that I read? If there's a conversation that I can add value to, great--but good readers add value to. And that's what lurkers are: Good readers who don't happen to feel like being writers in this instance.

[So far, this notion seems to have ducked the biblioblogosphere, unless you count your weblog in that category.]

Posted by: walt at January 11, 2006 11:18 AM

Jenny Preece talks in a couple of papers (and in person) about how even the term "lurker" is pejorative. She likes "legitmate peripheral participant" because these people *do* contribute to the community. She's also published a few studies of why people lurk: mostly for very reasonable reasons.

Posted by: Christina Pikas at January 11, 2006 12:04 PM

Sorry Christina, and no offense to Jenny, but any time you have to replace a single word term with a three word term my alarms start going off.

I like the term "lurker" I figure anyone who wants to see it negatively is well...misinformed. I lurk on close to two hundred feeds and I can probably count those I have commented on on one hand...well maybe part of a second. I like to's how I learn things. And believe me I feel no less a part of the community on the blogs I have never commented on.

Posted by: Lois at January 11, 2006 02:40 PM

Walt as with most things I am a boundary can count me in the biblioblogosphere even though my degree is in information science and I won't get to wear yellow on my gown. *w*

Posted by: Lois at January 11, 2006 02:42 PM

Hi, Lois & others.

I don't see lurking as a negative thing, but I am still trying to understand lurking, as it's different from my style. I tend to inject myself into interaction spaces. Also, I am still not completely comfortable with broadcasting my life into an online space, yet I still do so... I often want to know more about people reading my blog because I view blogging as a relational activity. I hope that if I share about my life, I will get to learn more about the lives of others in return. It's not like keeping score or anything -- people don't HAVE to share equally. It's my hope that if I am vulnerable with others, they will, in turn, open up to me. Yet, it is important for me to recognize that the needs and motivations of others who visit online spaces can be very different from mine.

I met a lurker at my blog at a conference in October, but when I met her I didn't know she was a lurker until we talked for a while and then we figured it out. We met at the conference, having known each other barely as acquaintances prior to the conferences, talked about work and life, and then she put together that I was a blogger and that she read my blog OFTEN. !!! It was a good experience; she shared what she got out of reading the blogs, why she doesn't comment (in her case, it felt like joining into a conversation that she didn't she herself being a part of, I think), and so forth.

That said, there are plenty of blogs I do lurk on because I am intimidated by the community that already seems to exist there. Also, I agree with those above who said that's impossible to participate on all of the blogs you read.

Interesting topic.

oh, and of course we must admit that we are encouraging people to delurk because we selfishly love comments. :) I really like how New Kid talks about this issue in her post about National DeLurking Week.

- B*

Posted by: bright star (B*) at January 11, 2006 03:53 PM

Ah well, since my graduate degree doesn't exist, and I still count myself in the biblioblogosphere (a term that I helped to solidify, unfortunate though it may be), I think you count as well.

I did mean National De-lurker Week, not Month!

Here's a one-word synonym for blog lurker that has no pejorative connotations I can think of:


Posted by: walt at January 11, 2006 04:57 PM