I, blurker do solemnly swear…

I received this incredibly interesting seminar
invitation this morning.


Even in busy online communities usually only a small fraction of members post
messages. Why do so many people prefer to read and not contribute? In a survey
of 1188 posters and non-posters (i.e., lurkers) from 375 MSN bulletin board
communities 219 lurkers spoke out about their reasons for not posting. But even
though lurkers did not participate publicly they sought answers to questions.
However, they were less satisfied with their community experience than those who

Data from checkbox questions and over 490 responses to open-ended questions
reveals many reasons why people do not participate actively in the MSN online
discussion communities. The top five reasons are: (1) they got what they wanted
and didn’t need to post; (2) they wanted to learn more about the community
before jumping in; (3) they thought that by not posting they were being helpful;
(4) poor usability prevented them; and (5) poor group dynamics deterred them
from participating. Analysis of this data raises issues that developers,
managers, and moderators need to address so that they can make online community
experiences better for everyone.

In this talk I will present the main findings from our study and discuss
strategies for improving interaction in online communities for posters and


Jenny Preece is professor of information systems at the University of
Maryland, Baltimore County, where she was department chair for five years. Her
research focuses on online communities and she is particularly interested in
improving social interaction online (i.e., sociability). Some recent research
projects include: developing evaluation heuristics and design guidelines for
online communities; a multilevel analysis of an online patient support
community; understanding and supporting lurking and posting behavior, and
cross-cultural interaction in online communities.

Jenny is author of eight books including: Online Communities: Designing
Usability, Supporting Sociability
(2000) (
href="www.ifsm.umbc.edu/onlinecommunities"> size=2>www.ifsm.umbc.edu/onlinecommunities size=2> < href="http://www.ifsm.umbc.edu/onlinecommunities"> size=2>http://www.ifsm.umbc.edu/onlinecommunities color=#0000ff size=2>>) and Interaction Design:
Beyond Human-Computer Interaction
(2002) (
href="www.id-book.com"> size=2>www.id-book.com
size=2>http://www.id-book.com size=2>>) coauthored with Yvonne Rogers and Helen
Sharp. Both books are published by John Wiley & Sons. Jenny has written
extensively about online communities and has given many keynote presentations.
Some of her papers are available on
href="www.ifsm.umbc.edu/~preece"> size=2>www.ifsm.umbc.edu/~preece
size=2>http://www.ifsm.umbc.edu/~preece size=2>>.

The kwan is with me and it is Microsoft.  I love my job.

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