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Monday, April 30, 2007

Update to the 1% Rule

I've talked about the 1% Rule before. This rule tells us roughly that in online communities:
  • 90% will read-only
  • 9% will make limited contributions (comment)
  • 1% will actively contribute content
In 1% Rule - Can You Fight It?, I contended that if we changed the dynamic of contribution to make it less effort, then there would be greater contribution.

A recent Forrester research report (cited) that looks at the numbers from a different perspective and it tells us a slightly different story. It tells us that:
  • 52% - don't participate in social media
Of the 48% who do participate, you can find them at varying levels participating in social media. They categorize them into:
  • Creators (publish web pages, have a blog, upload video)
  • Critics (comment on blogs, post ratings and reviews)
  • Collectors (use RSS, tag web pages)
  • Joiners (use social networking sites)
  • Spectators (read blogs, watch videos, listen to podcasts)
The percentages reported are much higher than the 1% rule, but they are looking at the question differently - across all possible sites for interaction - not looking at a single site.

The categories are interesting to think about.


Anonymous said...

I think the 1% rule is a bit overplayed. It depends on the purpose of the community and motivation of those involved. We've looked at a lot of FLOSS communities (for a research project and there you _can_ (although not always) get much higher levels of participation, because there are rewards and motivations to contribute. I've been running online activities for ten years now in distance ed, and we get much higher than 1%. As you suggest in a previous comment, that can be related to assessment, but even when it isn't we get more like a 33% rule - lots of distance educators are just motivated (they are also trying to get help with things they don't understand).
So, I think the 1% rule is a dangerous thing to hold up as if it were Moore's law or something. There's a whole host of caveats that go along with it.
PS - thanks for the heads up to the Learning Circuits articles in your comment on my blog Tony.

Tony Karrer said...

Hi Martin,

I agree that it's way too general, but it does point out that unless you really have a committed audience, eager to participate, then you need a large audience to get traction. Put a community out for your salesforce of 100 people? You might not get much.

I would be curious to see the numbers you found and the primary factors that influenced participation levels.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I am tending to disagree with this comment. I think the issue is alot more complex and involves so many other factors. A few are: organisational culture, the way the eLearning is implmented, the generation using the technology, what interecation is designed into the eLearning and how the moderator responds to and solicits feedback just to name a few. Sure, you'll never get everyone to participate, but I think that there are things that can be done to influence the participation rate pretty significantly.