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Matt Rhodes

Hi Rich,

I guess another way of looking at this is that you need to make sure you resource your community management team to dedicate real time as your community grows. Capping the size of your community based on current resource available seems to me to put up false barriers to the growth you might see in active members over time. You might end up with a much bigger active community than your current resource allows and that might be a good thing. Just hire resource to meet this, don't cap the size of your community artificially.


Kate Gilbert

Hi Rich,

As we have discussed before, I think this approach to the size of a community is too insular and misses a significant opportunity to consider lurkers or observers as a part of the community. McKay et al (1998) designed and studied a program that included an online community for people with diabetes and when surveyed, 93% of the lurkers said they found simply ‘lurking’ helpful in managing their diabetes. I am currently conducting a study which is likely to show lurkers value and gain benefit from this as well.

In another study, Zrbiec and Jacobson (2001) identified that 7.55% of all users of an online community for people with diabetes posted messages while 92.45% only read messages posted by others - it's rough but that gives you the beginnings of being able to estimate the true size of a community. Food for thought I hope ....

Richard Millington

Hi Kate,

If you want a community with a lot of lurkers, then by all means keep it open and aim for growth. If you want a community where most people are active, then put a limit on the size.

Richard Millington

Also, I don't see why this would affect lurkers. Unless you close the community behind a password, they can still see the messages.

I hadn't thought of building my community in terms of giving each member 5 minutes of attention a month. The specificity is very helpful. Thanks.

PS And to Kate above, the problem with lurkers is that they GET value from the community but do not GIVE value in return. My challenge is to find ways to encourage lurkers to become active. If they don't, they are essentially parasitic.

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