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  • LURKERS and BABBLERS and the Make-Up of Your Subscriber Base
    Copyright 2001-2002, Bill Platt

    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
    have questions.
    This list will go often times for up to 8 weeks without a 
    single question being posted, and then pow, ten questions in 
    two days.
    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.

    Bill Platt owns http://thePhantomWriters.com . Do you need free content for your website or ezine? Our archives deliver more than 350 free-reprint articles available for your use. http://content.thePhantomWriters.com . Do you write your own articles? Let us distribute them for you to our network of 6000+ publishers & webmasters http://thePhantomWriters.com/distribution

    This article was originally written: March, 2001

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