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Online Community Pioneer Asks for Proportionality in Dealing with Lurkers - A British online community expert is calling for restraint by online community managers as lurkers are booted off a Web-based Hyperlexia support group - JonathanBishop.com
Online Community Pioneer Asks for Proportionality in Dealing with Lurkers

 

NewswireToday - /newswire/ - Abercynon, Wales, United Kingdom, 2007/02/13 - A British online community expert is calling for restraint by online community managers as lurkers are booted off a Web-based Hyperlexia support group - JonathanBishop.com.

   
 
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Jonathan Bishop, director of e-learning firm Glamorgan Blended Learning who has been developing and researching online communities since the 1990s says the actions of the Hyperlex online community's manager to delete any member who did not post a message to the community was not proportional, "Participation inequality is a serious problem for the new media society, but banning people from using online communities if they do not post content is not the best approach to dealing with it", he said, "it would be like a government trying to increase turnout in an election by disqualifying those who did not vote in the last one, which would only mask the problem and not actually deal with it"

Discussing participation inequality, Web Usability Guru Jakob Nielsen said, "The first step to dealing with participation inequality is to recognize that it will always be with us. It's existed in every online community and multi-user service that has ever been studied." Dr Nielsen believes that participation inequality can be tackled by the webmaster making it easier to contribute, making participation a side effect, letting users build their contributions by modifying existing templates rather than creating complete entities from scratch, rewarding people for contributing, and by displaying all contributions equally.

Mr Bishop has carried out research into lurking, which is currently being considered by the Computers in Human Behavior journal, claiming that the reason that people do not post messages in online communities is that they hold beliefs that lead them to experience a cognitive response called 'temperance', which means they do not act out their plans to post messages. Mr Bishop's study, which investigated online communities including Hyperlex found that lurkers in online communities share much in common with those who have social phobia in real-world communities, though lurkers do not necessarily hold the same beliefs as those with social phobia. He said, “The extent to which an online community member finds a social phobic belief characteristic of them can be predictive of whether they will be a lurker in that community, as for example lurkers are likely to find the belief that they appear clumsy during social situations and the belief they what they say to be interpreted as stupid to be more characteristic of them than those who are not lurkers".

Summarising his study Mr Bishop said, "Leaders and elders in online communities should take into account the beliefs held by lurkers and encourage them to become novices and go on to become regulars as it is important that all members of online communities be encouraged to play a part in the community as they all have unique perspectives to share."

 
 
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Online Community Pioneer Asks for Proportionality in Dealing with Lurkers

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