Monday, 28 April 2008

90-9-1 Rule aka 1% Rule in Collaborative Environments

I was just talking to someone who is regular reader of my blog and they claimed that I had never officially posted about the 90-9-1 Rule which is often referred to as the 1% Rule. Basically this rule tells us that in collaborative environments, e.g., discussion groups, wikis, etc. for every 100 people that sign up:
  • 90 will lurk (read with no active participation)
  • 9 will participate in a limited fashion (maybe rate or comment periodically)
  • 1 will regularly post content
Of course, you can try to improve those percentages through:
  • Incentives or requirements (students must blog - it's graded)
  • Community cohesion
  • Focus (short time frame, limited topic)
  • Integrated as natural activity
and other adoption models. Still, be careful about overselling the amount of adoption.

And even with these efforts and while some environments differ in their participation rates, there is often a similar spread of participation which can be a big problem for the effectiveness of social solutions. Think about it:
To get 10 active content contributors, you need an audience of size 1,000.
More information:

Wikipedia article: 1% Rule
Guardian article: "What is the 1% rule?"
"The 1% Rule: Charting citizen participation
Quantitative Analysis Of User Generated Content (PDF) - paper

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