Who's lurking on that social network?

Through the looking glass at Govloop, the social network for government

Hosted by Andrew Krzmarzick, GovLoop

GovLoop, a social network for government, recently reached the mark of 26,000 members. Let’s listen in to some snippets from recent conversations, as presented by GovLoop’s community manager, Andrew Krzmarzick.

Do you like to learn your peers’ perceptions but don’t want to share your own shards of wisdom? Then you may just be a lurker.

GovLoop has its share of lurkers, no doubt. During one week last month, the post that generated the most comments was a blog I fired across the bow of unsuspecting members entitled “I Hate ‘Lurkers’.” Of course, I quickly clarified:

“I hate the term lurkers. The word makes it sound like you are engaging in some kind of criminal activity. Like a flasher or a streaker or a ‘peeping Tom’. That's why I never use it to describe members of the GovLoop community who choose to review content without commenting or contributing to the conversation. I prefer the term ‘readers’."

Here’s some of the member feedback:

“I like to think of them as the mostly silent community, the 90%. Passive Consumers. They pipe up when really irked, moved, or it’s something directly related to their specific interest.”

— Andrea Baker, Director of Enterprise 2.0, Navstar

“…I really hate the term ‘consumers,’ even though in some cases it applies. Words not only explain but shape behaviors, so use them wisely.”

— Adriel Hampton, Investigator,
San Francisco City Attorney's Office

“I do not believe the term has a negative connotation to those that really understand the dynamics. In online forums, I've often seen people refer to themselves as a lurker — usually it's in their first post, when they finally feel comfortable enough to chime in.”

— Bob King, Senior Integration Analyst
Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate, Army

We were even able to lure Lori Zipes, engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, Fla., into leaving a quick comment: “I'm just a lurker. Ooops. Now I'm not. hee!”

Ingrid Koehler, of the U.K. Improvement and Development Agency, responded with a blog entitled, “Facilitation and bringing the lurkers out of the shadows.” She is the community manager for the Communities of Practice — a U.K. equivalent to GovLoop.

“There’s a 90-9-1 rule of participation that we assume as standard. Ninety percent of members are observers (often known as lurkers in the trade), 9% may comment on or rate content, and about 1% are content producers.”

Like Ingrid, we’re “keen to explore how to help people make the transition from community consumers to active contributors.” In fact, our top blog this week was Founder Steve Ressler’s post in which he was “jazzed” to announce that “we've streamlined the home page to make it much cleaner. Plus, we added a number of new features like Twitter integration…and launched topic pages that bring people quickly to discussions.”

All of these changes were intended to make it easier for members to move from being lurkers — or "readers" — to active contributors.

Please come as you are.

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