For a while I’ve assumed that online content contribution followed the 80/20 rule (the Pareto Principle) which maintains that for many things, 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes– e.g. 20% of volunteers do 80% of the work. Then after a little risearch I found out on J. Nielsen Website that:
In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.
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.
In case of wikipedia the number are different! In the About page you can read :
There are more than 75,000 active contributors working on more than 10,000,000 articles in more than 260 languages. As of today, there are 2,676,153 articles in English. Every day, hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world collectively make tens of thousands of edits and create thousands of new articles to augment the knowledge held by the Wikipedia encyclopedia.
That means that only 2% of visitor contribute writing contents on Wikipedia
Most people don’t contribute, but it doesn’t matter because the tiny fraction that do are a tiny fraction of an absolutely big number.
The Internet, by giving everybody access to a market of hundreds of millions of people, can work at participation rates that would be a disaster in the traditional world ( see Encarta).