I see comments from frustrated list owners all of the time. They
get frustrated because they have started discussion lists where
no discussions take place... sure, they have subscribers, but
discussions are scarce. Out of frustration, these list owners
invariably throw their hands up and walk away from their lists.
If you are one of these discussion list owners, then this article
is for you.
I have been managing discussion lists on the net for nearly two
Truth is, the average list has 28 MEMBERS. And, chances are 24
of the lists' members are LURKERS. Lurkers are those who are
members, but never post a single question or comment to the
list. Every list has them. Yet, most list owners are frustrated
by the lurkers. They would like to see discussions on their
lists, so that they may be educated the same as the lurker.
I have one list that is a discussion type technical support
list. I have 140 members on that list and 120 of them are only
lurkers. This list is set up for the lurkers who have computer
problems to ask their questions, and the professionals answer
the questions. Many of the lurkers find this an interesting
and educational forum in which they only participate when they
This list will go often times for up to 8 weeks without a
single question being posted, and then pow, ten questions in
If you are interested in exploring this list, then please
visit: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WindStorm to get the
Most discussion lists top out in membership around 150 members.
There are of course exceptions to this rule, but more often
than not, a discussion list will hold between 20 and 150
Lurkers are actually really good for a list. They lurk behind
the scenes learning from those of us who are the BABBLERS.
People want to learn, that is why they are lurking on your list
in the first place. Lurkers are the learning population on the
web, while the babblers are the teachers on the web.
If you are a babbler, then this is your chance to become known.
If you are in business on the web, and you are a babbler, your
business will eventually benefit from this fact. By being a
teacher, you are lifting yourself up on a pedestal that few
people want to be on. You are lifting yourself into a position
of trust and respect.
The lurkers on your list will begin to trust and respect your
point of view. When they are ready to purchase what it is
that you sell, the lurkers are more likely to buy from you
as opposed to buying from a stranger. Even on the web, people
tend to buy from only those whom they trust.
As a discussion list owner, it is very important to remember
that there are 3 types of people subscribed to your list.
First there are MEMBERS. Out of the list of MEMBERS, you will
discover the other two types of people subscribed to your
list, LURKERS and BABBLERS.
The BABBLERS will keep your list active, and the LURKERS will
remain to give the BABBLERS a steady audience.
If you would like more BABBLERS on your list to keep things
interesting for you too, then you need to get your subscriber
base up. No matter which list I own, moderate, or subscribe
to, it seems that no more than 17% of the membership base
are BABBLERS. And the remaining 83% are LURKERS.
That is the reality of life on the Internet. So, don't despair
or disparage your lurkers. They are your lifeblood. Treat them
as such, and they will treat you well without typing a single
keystroke to the list.