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New Poll: Why are you silent?

Now that we’ve learned a little about our visitors, we’ve started a new poll to explore why we don’t see many comments here at Free Government Information despite our significant readership.

Due to the nature of this poll, we’re not asking for comments here, but if you feel very strongly about the reason you don’t comment on our stories, please consider making your first comment one on our poll.

Otherwise, please use a single mouse-click to give us some much needed feedback.

Why do we care? Well, reaching back to our mission statement:

By creating this nexus, we hope to facilitate collaboration among the various stakeholders and participate in the design of a truly robust system for the digital age where government information is freely accessible, fully functional and usable, and preserved in a distributed system of libraries.

It’s hard to collaborate when people aren’t talking much. So help us figure out how to stimulate dialog by identifying the barriers to commenting.

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1 Comment

  1. duanez says:

    The results of the poll and the comments support the work of Jakob Nielson’s October 2006 Alertbox post “Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute” He cites a similar distribution to the survey results:

    User participation often more or less follows a 90-9-1 rule:

    90% of users are lurkers (i.e., read or observe, but don’t contribute).
    9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time.
    1% of users participate a lot and account for most contributions: it can seem as if they don’t have lives because they often post just minutes after whatever event they’re commenting on occurs.

    He says “Blogs have even worse participation inequality than is evident in the 90-9-1 rule that characterizes most online communities. With blogs, the rule is more like 95-5-0.1.”

    Another thought: Are there are too many blogs? Maybe we (those of us who blog) blog too much‘? I was thinking that maybe there’s too much blog-noise that most of us can’t keep up with it all (true in my case: there’s a bunch of sites i want to get to but fail to do so regularly).

    And then the term “Lurker” is used to label those who ‘non-participate’. And that label is associated with negative such connotations as ‘conceal oneself’, ‘creep’,’prowl’, ‘pussyfoot’, ‘skulk’, ‘snake’, ‘sneak’….. Why? I am a ‘Lurker’ on many sites. Is that bad? I wish i had another term for ‘Lurker’. It sounds so sneaky.

    It looks like Nielson is saying the world is made up of, mostly, Lurkers. I am now wondering why non-participation is something to worry about –too much. Although an Internet medium invites and feedback, i wonder if its just human nature not to participate all the time? Perhaps it’s the lack of knowing if anyone is out there reading this stuff and what they might be thinking about that’s the problem.

    Nielson’s October 2006 post (see above or click here) talks about the “Downsides of Participation Inequality” (he says “The problem is that the overall system is not representative of Web users.”) He also has some ideas about “How to Overcome Participation Inequality” (he says you basically can’t but he has some ideas.)

    PS: I forgot to acknowledge Jack Vinson’s help in pointing to that Nielson post. Thanks Jack!

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