How Can I Push You From Lurker To Participant?


I left my first comment on Chris Brogan’s blog a few weeks ago. And if you want to know a secret, I was scared. Speaking up for the first time on a new community is often pretty intimidating. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been reading Chris’ blog for years, lots of us have. However, I had never left a comment until the day he asked me to. Actually, he didn’t really ask. He more dared me. He dared all his lurkers.

One of the first posts I ever read by Jakob Nielson was his theory on community participation. He called it the 90-9-1 rule and, if you’re not familiar with it,  states the following:

  1. 90 percent of users are lurkers who never contribute
  2. 9 percent of users contribute a little
  3. 1 percent of users account for almost all the action

And according to Jakob, there’s no real way to change that. There will always be a disproportionate number of people participating vs lurking.  The best you can do is to hope to increase your numbers to something along the lines of 80-16-4. At least then, four percent of your audience would be heavy contributors instead of just one percent. Which, I guess, is better than nothing.

As the idea of online communities become more important, it feels like we’re all in a constant battle to up that last number. That last number is important. It represents your brand evangelists, the people who want to be actively engaged, the ones who want to know what you stand for, the customers most likely to be life-long, and the ones most vocal when you ask for feedback. The higher that last number, the easier it is to stay in tune with your real community.  Is there any way to push over any of that 90 percent?

Why Do People Lurk?

Last month WikWikit wrote a really informative post about lurkers that looks at why people lurk and how to make your audience more likely to participate in the conversation. I stumbled across that post and quickly started thinking about my own Web behavior. Why do I choose to lurk instead of joining in?

Here’s a short list of what I came up with.

  • I don’t feel ‘smart enough’ to contribute.
  • I don’t trust that the community wants to hear my opinion.
  • I’m scared of the vibe that exists in the community. It’s too aggressive, too elitist, too cliquey, too something.
  • I’m busy. I have time to read, but not always to comment.
  • I’m still learning about whatever it is you’re talking about.
  • I’m intimidated by the blogger. How could I ever contribute to a conversation going on at Brian, Amber, Lee, or Aaron’s house?

In WikWikit’s post they talk about some ways to convert lurkers to participators and mention all the standards: Make it easy to contribute, reward participants, promote contributors, etc. And while these things are all important and may help, it has to be more than that. At Ari Herzog’s blog he mentions a WordPress plugin he uses to send emails to folks who haven’t commented on his blog in six months as a way to bring lurkers back into the fold. It’s a worthwhile approach, though I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to send or receive such an email. Actually, receiving one of those emails would probably make me hide harder, not less.

So I guess I’m asking you. What inspires you to go from lurker to active participant? Is it the content, the community, your relationship with the blogger? Do you have to be hit over the head with an emotion to say something?

More specifically, is there a way or something that I could change to make you lurk less and participate more at Outspoken? I happen to think we have a great community of vocal and respectful folks, is there a way to add on to that? I’d love to hear it, especially if you’ve never commented before. Tell me what’s always stopped you. Or tell me about you. I’m just listening today.

Your Comments

  • ian

    Send Kit Kats.

    Seriously, it’s more about time than anything else.
    I have at least 50 blogs where I’d like to be a participant, but just don’t have time.

    If you believe in Dunbar’s number, etc. then the averages work out to support Nielson’s theories: Each person can only participate in so many places. The best way to get around it is to get current participants to get other participants, once-removed.

    • Lisa Barone

      I can see time being a big factor for a lot of people. I think for me, it’s more blatant intimidation. I scare easy so it’s hard for me to find the courage to speak up at a new place, especially if the community is let to run around too freely.

      I’ll try that kit kat thing, though. The regular ones, the dark chocolate or that big super chunk thing? :)

  • Shane

    Lisa –
    Ironically, the reason I am typing this is because you sent out a great Tweet asking us to tell you and then you let us know you are listening. So that strategy worked ;-)

    Your post, however, made me think about all the times I read posts and do not reply. Do you know the reason I personally don’t, but sometimes do? It’s engagement! When I see the author replying back to the posts, I tend to post a comment. Why? Because it makes me feel that my voice was heard and that the author is engaged. I feel compelled then, to take the time to make a comment.

    • Lisa Barone

      That’s a pretty big one. I’m also fairly hesitant to comment on blogs where the blogger doesn’t seem to be participating in the community much, though I know it can be hard to stay on top of them. Supporting the people who support you is really important.

      Thanks for the comment, even if we prodded you a bit. :)

    • Rick

      I’ll second this – I comment far more when I know the person blogging is involved. Comments from them are one measure, but it’s not just that – it’s knowing that they DO comment so they’re probably reading the comments. Having the blogger engaged also seems to raise the level of discourse which in turn makes it easier to comment for me.

  • Jason

    Alright, so this is a little creepy. I was just thinking this exact same thing this morning. No kidding, this morning.

    I thought, “you know, I really like Outspoken’s blog. And I really would like to contribute… why haven’t I?”

    I guess it boiled down to a combination of the points you mentioned above. Interacting with people on this level is pretty damn intimidating. It’s like double-dutch: you stand back and rock back and forth… waiting for the right moment. Waiting for the time when you feel like you have something meaningful to say; something with more substance than “Great post, I agree. Tots!”

    So here it is… I’m jumping in!

    Hey everyone, my name is Jason. I come here a fair amount, but now hope to contribute more often than never.

    BTW, great post. I agree… tots!

    • Lisa Barone

      I’m in your mind, reading your thoughts! muahaha! No, no, don’t run away… :)

      I *love* the double dutch analogy, it’s so true. Often I’ll actually go to comment, write it all out…and then just delete it and go away without hitting publish. Why do I do that? BECAUSE I’M A BABY! I second guess where it’s “my turn” to step in or if I’m encroaching on another thread. I think we all get a little intimidated sometimes.

      But, it’s nice to meet you, Jason, and glad you spoke up. Hope to read more comments from you in the future. :)

  • Hannah

    Typically I’ll only comment if I think I’ve something of value to add to the conversation; those ‘great post’ comments make me cringe a little… However if I have enjoyed a post, I’ll often tweet about it.

    Makes me wonder if twitter has decreased blog commenting in general – are we taking the conversation elsewhere?

    I’d also concur with Ian on the time front; sadly there just aren’t enough hours in the day :)

    • Lisa Barone

      I think twitter has definitely taken the conversation offsite, which I don’t necessarily mind. I don’t think we need to force the conversation to stay on page. I do wonder, though, if Twitter is affecting the relationships that we’re creating with the people producing the content. It has us talking about it with our network, instead of the blogger and their network…if that makes sense. Ideally, it’s a good thing, but it doesn’t help the blogger/reader to always connect.

      • Russell Parrott

        “I think twitter has definitely taken the conversation offsite” Yesterday I read a blog article at that indicated a vast majority 1:30 of social media networking actually takes place in what they called the ecotwittersphere i.e. not directly via twitter. This is causing it difficult to track proper social media conversions as there is “no referrer url” they come as direct visitors. The chances are that a lot of blog commenting is happening offsite – it also does’t help with so many “copies” of articles it does downgrade quality writing and people are not always sure who is the orgininator.

        II have started my own regeime, I want to visit atleast 1 new blog a day and leave at least one comment each day – somewhere.

        Interesting that I came across this today as yesterday I wrote:

        Be honest how many blog posts do you read and leave a comment at? Typically – very few. Now, how many of those posts were informative, how many did you take “something” away from that you could use, if not today then in the future. Why did you not give credit where it is due.

        Start taking action like leaving blog comments, retweets and tweets. If (and when) you start a Social Media Campaign for your site/product/service that is exactly what you will want others to do for you.

        I have just started my blog (this week) and I guess I am like all other bloggers, we want (and love the encouragement). That pat on the back is all we need to spur ourselves on to greater and better things.

  • Rob

    As people used to say on the radio when they called in, “long-time listener, first-time caller”. Well, that’s me here. I’ve sent you a few chatty comments over on that Twitter thingy, but never commented here before.

    I guess for me it’s because I feel like a student in this space, the one sitting in the back of the classroom. I don’t want the other kids calling me a nerd under their breath for asking the dumb question.

    And one of my favorite posts was when you called out Seth Godin for hijacking brands, and I don’t want that to happen to me, too. I’m scared of you. LOL

    But I’m paying attention.

    • Lisa Barone

      I don’t want the other kids calling me a nerd under their breath for asking the dumb question.

      Ha! OMG, I feel the same way on SO many other blogs. And there’s nothing wrong with being the kid in the back of the class watching, as long as you feel comfortable speaking up when you do have something to say. I guess that’s really all I can ask for.

      And I promise not to seth-godin you. How could I? You have an awesomely snark beer blog. IT’S A SNARKY BEER BLOG!

  • Amanda VanLente-Hatter


    I just started commenting on blogs at all about 3 months ago – your list pretty well matches with mine as far as why. Honesty, I think the RSS reader has something to do with it too – it takes something really engaging or interesting that I have experience with to pull me to go to the actual site. Asking questions at the end of a post seems to work well for some items but not all. For what it’s worth, I always enjoy your posts and love that you seem to have a very different point of view than most bloggers. When you wrote the Seth Godin post, I hadn’t even considered that angle – I think you do a great job of looking at an issue from all sides.

    • Lisa Barone

      Ah, that damn RSS stealing blog comments! :)

      I do the same thing. I practically live in my feed reader, which is likely why I don’t comment on as many blogs as I should. Someone has to really get me worked up (good or bad) for me to click through.

      Thanks for the comment re: the Seth post. Appreciate it. :)

  • Julie

    I helped manage a number of early-internet user communities, and we definitely saw the 90-9-1 rule in a big way – both relative to participation, and among participants, the troublemaker factor.

    One thing I saw in that time is that people have different motivations for being in any given community. As community directors, we may think, ‘This is a community! It’s for participating!’ and be distressed that some users are not, but those users may be content with the value they’re getting in the community.

    I was taught by my mom that if you value a community, you need to participate, as that’s a building block of the value you find – the value you can create for others. But I think others may not have that notion.

    • Lisa Barone

      That’s a good point. Not everyone views “community” as something that has to go two-ways. They may be perfectly content reading the content, listening in to the discussions and taking away what they will. Thanks!

  • Frank

    More often than not it’s just one sentence in the blog entry that makes me comment on a blog post or forum entry. Might be something I disagree with or something that makes me think I can add value to the discussion. Which is – unfortunately – not always the case.

    Here on your post it probably was the headline. DON’T YOU DARE CALLING ME A LURKER, LISA! ;-)

    • Lisa Barone

      Ah, so you’re one of those people that clings to one sentence and then writes a whole comment about it? I know people like you. ;)

      Ha, no, no wasn’t talking to you. Definitely not you. Yeah, yeah!

      • Frank

        >I know people like you. ;)
        Sure, many people like me. Perfectly understandable ;-)

        You know what, I just read another blog post from which I wanted to cite a piece here which I thought describes you quite well – until I noticed who wrote that blog post :-)

        Anyway, here it is:

        … you don’t have to build a personal brand on being an egomaniac. You can build your brand on simply being human.

  • Virginia

    Thanks for the challenge, Lisa. You’ve coaxed me to look at my own behavior so I can understand others. I guess for me it’s about not feeling like I have anything worth saying that other people haven’t already considered. Also, being shy, I tend to be a listener/observer rather than a vocal contributor. Unless of course, like you said, I’m bashed over the head with an emotion. In this case, it’s my love for the blogger and my determination to keep moving forward, both professionally and personally. On Monday you shared a post with me that mentioned the idea of contributing with a comment on five posts a week. Maybe I’ll take up that challenge. Check one…

  • Guillaume

    Hi, your post reminds me so much of the Word of mouth marketing book by Andy Sernovitz. I remember this sentence : “people will talk if you ask nicely”.

    “We’re hoping you’ll speak up. [please?]”
    Here’s a perfect illustration of this. You asked nicely, this is my first comment around here.

    There are many reasons why I never posted before, chief among them that I’m a foreign reader who isn’t completely fluent in English. But also, I guess, like you said : the fear that I don’t have anything insightful enough to say.

    Apart from the “ask nicely and people will talk” theory, I believe people are more likely to stop lurking when they feel that they can benefit in some way from participating, like grabbing attention, getting feedback, finding the answer to a question…

    In other words, I feel that people are probably more willing to talk when you ask them, but also when you give them a good reason to.

    • Lisa Barone

      How much does Andy Sernovitz rock? He’s brilliant.

      I definitely agree with you, though. People comment when they feel there’s value to – either for themselves or for others.

  • Shelly


    I think you make some valid points here, and actually, points to which I can relate. I was talking yesterday with Chris Reimer (@RizzoTees) at David Siteman Garland’s St. Louis Lunch & Learn about why blogging and commenting seem to be difficult for me, though I don’t mind teaching others how to do it in our Buzzhound SEO classes.

    Honestly, I think lurking is less intimidating and makes us less vulnerable. While writing this, I realized how many times I scrolled up to make sure I was answering your question, did my answer make sense, does it somehow contribute value to the conversation, and others.

    And, to answer you question, I can relate to your blog post, so it strikes an emotional chord for me. I think you just have keep writing and, to paraphrase Chris, write about the things you are passionate about and then really use social media to push it out. And, we all want comments, good or bad, right?

    Kudos to you for putting this question out there and really make me think about my strategy and how I can not only actively participate, but change my “lurking” habits…

  • K.S. Katz

    It’s hard to say. I don’t think there’s really anything more you could do to encourage commenting on your blogs. You write engaging posts that inspire many to chime in. You moderate the conversations to keep it on the up and up. You listen to all and any opinions.

    You’re right, if you sent me emails to participate more, I’d probably get annoyed. Some lurkers just like to lurk. I like listening to the conversation rather than adding an opinion. I find many of your regular commenters do an awesome job of adding to the conversations and it doesn’t occur to me to add anything. I’d just accept that some people, like me, are going to be rare and infrequent commenters.

  • Steve Ward, @CloudNine Media Recruitment

    Well, since you asked…

    It’s funny – my wife is a big reader, but never comments on the books she reads, whereas when I read, I am always commenting on the content to her (usually replied with `shut up I’m reading MY book` look)
    There are those who have to comment, those who select their comments, and those who would prefer to keep their head in the book.

    Is it Bravery? – surely not – anyone can comment as anonymously as they like, or just with a single name?
    Is it because some bloggers are so good they leave the readers speechless?? – hey great skill, but surely not the objective of the piece.

    I think it’s that only 10% of people really understand unwritten social media etiquette. Social Media is after all `social`, and thoughts are encouraged, and basically it’s good practice to comment.
    Until 3-6 months ago I was a lurker – not seeing the point of commenting. Now I understand that it is just nice to say `well done`, or `thanks`, or offer a rambling response (see exhibit A: right here).

    So Lisa.
    Well done.
    Thank you.
    I did the rambling response bit already.

    • Lisa Barone

      Re: the Bravery aspect, I suppose that’s true. However, I dont think I’ve ever left an anonymous comment on a blog. I always attach my name, so sometimes the intimidation factor definitely does come into play.

      The social etiquette thing is something I hadn’t thought of. Thanks for throwing that out there.

  • Dawn Wentzell

    There really is no one reason, it depends on the site, on the community, and your relationship with it. I lurk on some sites because I feel intimidated, lack knowledge, or don’t have anything to say other than “great post”. On other sites, I might not have a problem posting that first comment, if I’ve got a relevant question or opinion. Time plays a huge part as well; sometimes I’ll just not even bother commenting if I know I won’t have time to keep up with the remainder of the comments throughout the day.

  • Eric Werner

    Oh, you wanted us to comment? I thought this was just a big free information bank..

    Good article and good question.

    What if 80% of your lurkers were standing around saying, gosh I just wish that there was a way I could interact that would be useful to these people.. It’s probably not 80% but I’m sure that there are plenty of people who appreciate all that you’ve written over the years and would love it if they could know exactly how/where to pay it back..

    A lot of people don’t realize how much bloggers love to get comments. When I work with clients they are always surprised when I try to explain to them how big of a deal it is. They mostly cite the first reason you mention ‘don’t feel smart enough’..

    I spent a substantial amount of my youth on bulletin board systems way back before the internet. They were usually local since it cost too much to call long distance (or you had to use illegal long distance codes) (not me of course, on the illegal part) But they were these wonderful close knit groups and people really got to know each other well. Makes me wonder if there is something deeper that could tapped, something really fundamental to the human condition:

    Convince me someone wants to be friends


    • Lisa Barone

      I suppose that’s what I’m asking. Is there a way I could make the barrier to interact lower so that more people feel comfortable enough to participate? Or should I be better about encouraging them to?

      I agree, every blogger loves comments. If only to prove we’re not out here talking to ourselves. Personally, I love watching the discussion take shape in the comments. You guys come up with some good stuff.

      • DanielthePo

        Let me first say that this is the first post with lots of comments that I’ve read on my phone. I hate phone browsers, but reading the feedback on this one was worth it.

        Now, to answer your question:

        You could lower the bar by writing more posts as questions / polls. Make the title a question, share your quick opinion, and the open the floor. It might give some shy people the motivation to answer, especially as they see your replies to feedback. Especially if you can make yourself or your business vulnerable to position it in a way that their comments could influence the way you do approach your business (somehow).

        My two cents. I just think your comment question I’m responding to could be the title for your next post.

        • Lisa Barone

          That’s a great suggestion. We haven’t played around with polls on the blog before, but it’s definitely worth doing. I’m always afraid that if I just straight up ask a question no one will comment… but this post seems to have proven me wrong. :)

  • Vinny O'Hare

    I read every post and I think I may have commented once or twice but most of the time I read the post and then head back to Twitter since that is where I usually am before seeing you have a new post.

    I do this with most blogs I follow.

  • Bob

    Another thing I’d add to your list is, “I don’t have time to read the other comments to see what’s already been said.”

    So, why did I post now? You asked a question, I had an opinion, and only two short comments to read to catch up.

    Why did I read the post? I saw you post something else on Twitter which I read and enjoyed, which made me curious about a link I would have skipped over yesterday.

    Why did I see your Tweet? Weeks or months ago you tweeted something funny I caught in the public timeline.

    • Lisa Barone

      Only two comments ahead of your? Heh. Must have been a few stuck in moderation before you. ;)

      You bring up a really good point, in that people don’t have time to read all the other comments above to make sure they’re not repeating someone. I’ve definitely had that happen. Even if I’m really worked up and WANT to say something, if there are 40 comments ahead of me, I’m probably just going to move on.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t know – I think this theory is a little flawed. Just because those 90% don’t contribute via comment doesn’t mean they didn’t contribute in some way. For example, I read this post because someone sent it to me. And then we g-chatted about it. And maybe I’ll tweet about it with my opinion. Or maybe I’ll blog about. Or maybe I’ll bring it up at my local Internet Marketers meetup.

    I wouldn’t classify the 90% as lurkers. That number should probably be broken down to “pure lurkers” & “contributers via other means”. Some lurkers are contributing, it’s just not as easily measured.

    • Lisa Barone

      That’s a really, realy good point. It’s probably time to rework Jakob’s model and break out contributors by different metrics. Because contributing doesn’t just mean “commenting”. I’m not really that concerned with the number of comments on these posts, more the discussions we can start here. And it’s not fun talking to myself. :) Thanks!

    • Neil

      I agree 100% with Stephanie here. 3.5 years is a lifetime in this industry and a lot has changed in what we consider “interaction” these days. You’d have to put together a chart measuring pageviews/comments/tweets etc to come up with a similar % pyramid. I imagine though that in doing so we could prove that engagement has increased over the years.

      There are a few variables that always affect my commenting choices.

      #1 is content, I have to want to comment and if I’m reading your post it probably means I found your title interesting, often the content that follows
      is not engaging or interesting enough to offer an opinion on.

      #2 is ease, it needs to be simple as hell.

      #3 has more to do with encouraging commenter loyalty, if my comments are ignored, I am far less likely to follow up with another comment.

      • Lisa Barone

        I agree with both of you. We definitely need to re-define the term “interaction”, it’s silly to just look at comments as the only metric. Thanks for bringing that up.

  • Paul Short

    For me, it’s usually a case where I feel I have nothing of value to add to the conversation ‘OR’ the fact that a lot of bloggers whose material I read are hell bent on trying to polarize their readers to spark and fuel controversy in the comments. I like to stay away from drama whenever I can because for me is simply consumes headspace I could be using to concentrate on something more productive.

    Another thing, and this is probably the #1 reason I don’t comment on blogs a lot any more, is that when I look at my comment in the context of a comment stream, I say to myself: “Sheesh, that was stoopid.”

    Yeah, so, it’s not you, it’s me ;-)

    • Lisa Barone

      Interesting that you prefer not to comment on posts obviously created to cause drama. I think that’s awesome.

      And I promise that I’m stoopider than you ever could be. :P

      • Paul Short

        Interesting that you prefer not to comment on posts obviously created to cause drama. I think that’s awesome.

        Thanks! Yeah, the threads that devolve into arguments about the degree of someone’s doucheiness are my faves.

        And I promise that I’m stoopider than you ever could be. :P

        And I promise I could make you eat those words ;-)

        BTW, nice job on this post. By it’s very nature it pushes readers from lurkers to participants. Skill like that is what keeps me reading anything you write :-)

      • mikehartcxo

        How do you define drama? I find many Gen-Y blogs try to create drama by taking an extreme position or trying their best to illicit a response and drive readership. Arguably “Outspoken Media” could be construed to create drama by being outspoken. Someone used the example of your shot at Seth Godin. Is that drama? I loved it. As a boomer I’m trying to bridge the two generation gap in how we collectively perceive things so I can be more of a contributor.

        As an aside, personally, the fact that Google alerts seems to pick up everything I say I don’t participate nearly as much as I’d like to.

        • mikehartcxo

          Sorry Paul, my comment was really a question for Lisa.

        • Lisa Barone

          I think drama posts are ones written ONLY to incite a riot and that don’t offer any other redeeming value. We went after Seth a bit, but I think there was a purpose behind it, as we exposed what we thought was a serious problem. The same with other posts along that line. You can be passionate and controversial without coming off like you’re just kicking someone in the shins for the fun of it.

  • Amy

    It’s reassuring to read these comments and realize I am not the only one who feels intimidated, stoopid, or that I have nothing of value to add. I struggle with being an in-house SEO and thinking that those who work for agencies have more knowledge and expertise so why would they want to hear from an in-house professional?
    Thanks for opening up to your lurkers

    • Lisa Barone

      Isn’t it crazy how many people are afraid to say something because they think they’re below the “norm” in terms of knowledge? It’s been really interesting to see so many people share that same fear. Perhaps a push to speak up. Maybe if we do, everyone else will too. :)

  • Bob Stanke

    I believe the strongest barrier for a lurker to become a participant is the ease of contribution. The easier you make it for someone to add a comment, the more you will get – simple as that. Since I moved to the DISQUS comment system, my contributions to each of my posts have gone up 83%! All because now they can authenticate themselves with various social media sites.

    Bob Stanke

    • Lisa Barone

      Really? I’m actually LESS likely to comment on a blog that uses DISQUS cause I don’t want to register and it creates some a headache to deal with it. Hmm, maybe I should look into that more.

      • Daniel

        You don’t actually have to register to leave a comment, just to admin. You can comment as a guest and use the same Name, Email, and URL fields you already do.

        Or you can sign in using Twitter, Facebook, etc.

  • FireSpy

    Hi. My name is Sara and I’m a lurker.

    I’ve been a lurker for a little over a year now. Thanks. Thank you. : )

    What I’ve learned in the last year is I have to want to comment. Commenting will not happen on its own. For a long time I was in denial; I thought I didn’t need to comment, my lurking wasn’t hurting anyone. I didn’t realize that lurking was only beneficial to me, I was selfish.

    I would like to thank my sponsor, Lisa, for giving me the courage today to stand up and say hello!

    So hello fellow lurkers! Nice to come out of the shadows.

    • Lisa Barone

      [in unison with the group] Hi, Sarah. :)

      I’m glad you decided to speak up after a year of just watching. More voices equal a better discussion for all, so ROCK! You’re awesome. And welcome. :)

  • Will Scott


    I think you just answered your own question right? Make the ask!

    Few people would accuse me of being humble, but it’s occasionally (very occasionally) true. And I have to thank Mike Blumenthal for snapping me out of it in regard to comments.

    A long time ago on a blog far, far away I made a self deprecating comment and Mike called me on it.

    My comment. / Mike’s response.

    This was long before Mike and I ever met in person and I didn’t know him to be the lovable curmudgeon I know today. And in the time since, I’ve become great friends with most of the people in that thread, some of whom I’ve never met.

    So, out of insecurity I was uncharacteristicly humble :) and Mike, who now knows how uncharacteristic it was, called me on it and the conversation was enriched. And we’re now good friends.

    And I’m not afraid to comment on anybody’s blog as long as I’ve got something to say. And as Ian says, the time.

    You rock! Keep it up. Thank you for making me remember an important moment.

    • Lisa Barone

      Yes, apparently asking helps and makes people feel it’s “okay” to speak up.

      Thanks for sharing your story with Mike. I’ve only met him once and had a very, very brief conversation with him (he asked to use my laptop), but it’s funny how those online relationships work and develop into real life BFFs. It’s neat watching the whole local search community be so close.

      Thanks for the comment. :)

  • Hulbert

    Like you say, there are many reasons for why there are so many lurkers that don’t like to participle. One of the reasons is because some people just like to click through to the page just to see what it looks like, but never really read the article. I think the blogger just has to try their best to write in a way to engages the reader, such as writing interesting articles or offering ideas that stimulate the reader’s thoughts, in order to get them to participate. Thanks for sharing this as I’ll keep these things in mind when I read other people’s blogs and writing on my own as well.

  • Joseph Ratliff


    This post inspired my “conversion” from lurker to participant.

    I’ve actually enjoyed reading the debates on this blog, but time was one factor as to why I haven’t participated thus far. I have participated in a number of other blog discussions…and just haven’t yet added this one to the mix. Now I have.

    I have to admit though, this blog seems to have a “higher level” of discussion than some of the others I’ve read…so I guess I’ll enjoy the ride (because I love high-level debates and discussion). :)

    Great article Lisa.

    • Lisa Barone

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment this time around. I totally understand the time crunch. It’s hard making the investment because then you have to keep UP with the comments, as well.

      And thanks for the compliment. We have a fun community of smart folks. Hope to see you around again. :)

  • Tracie Nichols

    Lisa, you and all of the folks in previous comments have pretty accurately identified why I tend to lurk in some communities. So here’s why I crawled out of the shadows today. By asking for my help, you implied that my reply would be valued, before I even knew I was going to reply. (Here’s where all of my lurker angst pops out — ACK!, I’ve just stated the obvious!) I am clicking submit, I am clicking submit…

    • Lisa Barone

      hahaha Congrats on hitting submit and thanks for commenting. I’m SO much like that where I’ll actually wrong full comments out and then delete them like a giant baby. In fact, I probably delete twice as many comments as I post.


  • Rob J

    A lot of the good points are taken by the time I get around to reading it! :-D

    I’m actually only half-joking about that. If I leave a comment, I want to make sure I’m adding something to what’s come before. And I don’t always have time to go through what everyone has said before me. So, often I’ll just read the post, and draw my own conclusions, and assume that someone in a comment section with over 10-15 comments or more has already made my point, possibly better than I would have done myself.

    Also, some blogs are better at inviting comments than others. Some blog give off the vibe that they’re more of the Andy Rooney on 60 minutes school; more of a monologue than the beginnings of a conversation that I as a reader am invited into. And that’s fine. But, I’m not going to add my two cents if I can’t have some kind of impact on the original poster, or on how that post is interpreted, even in a small way.

    Thanks for asking!

    • Lisa Barone

      No, thank YOU for responding. I’m probably fairly similar. I have to REALLY have something to say to comment on a post with a bunch of comments, because, as you mention, you assume someone has already shared your genius idea. And in order for you to find out, you have to read what everyone else said. Again, it’s a time thing. Totally get it.

  • James

    I think content and a sense of community are the two key factors that determine a blog’s commenting rate. If the post is thought provoking and the blog’s base community (Nielson’s 1%) is fair and accommodating, then people will feel more comfortable expressing their own opinions.

    I think this blog succeeds on both points; the content is, undeniably, very good and whilst the debate can occasionally get a wee bit fiery, there is a line that doesn’t often get crossed. And if things do get out of hand, Rae comes in as enforcer and makes the troublemakers cry, which is always fun.

    For me, it is the killer content and the insightful discourse that makes me happy to be part of Nielson’s 9%. That and my obsession with belly dancers…I’m joking, kind of.

    • Lisa Barone

      I think you totally hit when you mention that the community has to appear accommodating. There are several communities on the Web where I’d really love to join in and participate with the particular blogger, but the community as a whole is just made up of so many douchewaffles that I don’t want to go near it. It’s not worth the emotional attack to leave a comment. That’s something I pay a lot of attention to over here – making sure everyone behaves themselves so they’re not scaring others away.

  • Steve Nicewarner

    I think Amanda’s comment about RSS readers is spot on. Having a reader as an intermediary creates that extra hurdle to commenting. And we all know how much an extra hurdle can hold you back from doing something. One of my goals for 2010 is to not let that happen as much, which is why I jumped the hurdle today.

    Another, probably far smaller, possibility is people who write comments in their own blog instead of directly commenting on a given post. There have been times when I want to comment on a give post, but my comment gets too long and takes on a life of its own. Then it ends up as a seperate post, and not as comment love.

    • Lisa Barone

      You just gave me a totally scary HS track flashback. Ouch, my knee.

      Very valid point about longer comments turning into full posts. I think we’ve all done that.

  • Cathy Reisenwitz

    I often don’t comment because all I’m thinking about is how to use the advice given and all I would have to add to the conversation is “great post,” and those comments annoy me. The other reason I don’t comment is that there are too many comments already, and I don’t want to take the time to read them all, but I also don’t want to re-state what someone has already said, so I just assume that someone’s already said what I have to day and go on with my day.

  • dotlizard

    I don’t feel ‘smart enough’ to contribute.
    I don’t trust that the community wants to hear my opinion.
    I’m busy. I have time to read, but not always to comment.
    I’m still learning about whatever it is you’re talking about.
    I’m intimidated by the blogger. How could I ever contribute to a conversation going on at Lisa’s house?

    So, almost all of the above — in addition, blogs that get a large number of comments are a little off-putting; if I am not among the first commenters, that means I have to read through dozens or hundreds of comments to make sure I’m not repeating something that’s been said (probably) better by someone else. Also, there’s the feeling I’ll be lost in the shuffle.

    I tend to comment and participate much, much more on smaller blogs which have great (but under-appreciated) content, because not only is it easier to join a discussion with a smaller number of participants, I also feel like I’m supporting and encouraging the blogger to continue the high-quality blogging until they become adequately appreciated.

    The only reason I’m commenting now is because you asked :) Ordinarily I just grab information and run, which gets back to the busy/not enough time thing. Sometimes, Lisa, being an excellent resource of well-thought-out information means that random, anonymous people (like me) will just soak up the knowledge and then slink away quietly. And, wow, when I put it like that, it seems almost a little sleazy? So I apologize for that.

    • Lisa Barone

      I tend to comment and participate much, much more on smaller blogs which have great (but under-appreciated) content, because not only is it easier to join a discussion with a smaller number of participants, I also feel like I’m supporting and encouraging the blogger to continue the high-quality blogging until they become adequately appreciated.

      I love that! I actually wrote a post on SmallBizTrends that will be published on Thursday that talks about why niche blogs with small readerships are so awesome, and your comment plays directly into that.

      And, you’re not sleazy. don’t worry. :)

  • Luke

    How do you get that about the author box at the end of your post? And those cool buttons?

  • Seth

    While lurking is obviously less rewarding, it’s also a lot easier. It tends to take a blog post on a topic I feel very passionate about to get me to break out of my lurker shell. Or in this case it just takes a blogger I follow to ask.

    More often than not, once I comment for the first time I tend to return and become a more regularly voice. Who knows, maybe this will do the trick!

    • Lisa Barone

      So basically… you’re just lazy. I KID! :)

      I’m glad you commented and hopefully we’ll see you around. And if I’m ever in LA, I’ll give you a shout. You should have spoken up earlier. I was just there last month! :)

  • Suzanne Vara


    I am one that comments on blogs, not all but more than half that I read each day. If I have something to add or even more so have a question or different point of view that I got from reading then I chime in. Some may say that I like to hear myself, some may say, yeah she has some good thoughts and others would say Who?

    Obviously time is a factor and taking that out, there are quite a few reasons why people lurk instead of talk. On smaller blogs people will not comment as the fear of first and also the well no-one will else will read what I wrote as this blog is small and quiet so why bother? People flock to the blogs that have over 50K readers and will comment there as heck if that author responds to their comment, they have been defined and can brag to all that they were responded to. Instant gratification, need of belonging, attention and recognition to feel accepted.

    Fear is a big factor. It is more than not knowing what to write. It is putting down your thoughts from reading and having every other person who comments have the chance to read it. It is about credibility amongst peers and how will they view you as a person and what image will they create about you from that comment. Will in 4 months from now you change your position, even slightly, and some whippersnapper come and say well on X day you said X.

    I love to comment as I see it as indirectly telling the blogger, hey I am here and I like the way that you make me think – enough to throw my thoughts into the ring. If someone things my position or comments suck, let’s talk about it.


    • Lisa Barone

      Wow. Thanks for that and thanks for giving us a look into what it’s like to be a Full-Time Commenter. I think most of us are sitting on the sidelines wondering how or why we should get into the game so you offered some great insight.

      I love to comment as I see it as indirectly telling the blogger, hey I am here and I like the way that you make me think – enough to throw my thoughts into the ring. If someone things my position or comments suck, let’s talk about it.

      Love it! :)

  • Chad Northrup

    I like that the premise for this post was a theory written by a guy named Jakob. Granted it’s an alternate spelling, but now I feel like this is all tied into a LOST episode.

    Here’s the thing- I don’t really know anyone here. I haven’t engaged with any other community members online, I haven’t met you or communicated with you in any way, Lisa. I find myself engaging more at blogs where I have some connection with the community that goes beyond just reading on a daily basis. There’s a comfort in really knowing people well, eliminating the potential for some shark to come along and bite my head off because they don’t agree with what I have to say. I’ve just never been big into confrontation, which is what comments that go beyond “Thanks for the great post, you’re exactly right” invite. So I prefer to remain in a comfortable shell with people I know when it comes to expressing my own opinions.

    But here’s where that approach stops making sense-

    1. This is my favorite blog. I read it every day (not sucking up, it’s true)
    2. I promote your content on Twitter and other networks because I think it’s valuable
    3. Unlike some blogs (ahem… TechCrunch), I derive value from the comment streams I find here because not everyone is looking to promote themselves
    4. We’re both Red Sox fans
    5. I like it when you antagonize Scoble

    At the end of the day, I think I just need to come out of that shell and talk to you and the community more so that this will become a familiar place for me. I plan to do that after reading today’s post. It means a lot that you took the time to ask the question, so thanks for that!

    • Lisa Barone

      Your comment is like getting a giant hug!

      It’s funny you say you don’t comment because you don’t feel part of the community and don’t know anyone here (which lots of others echoed)… I’m not sure how I can fix that without knowing that people are on the sidelines wanting to get involved. I think maybe I just need to ask more direct questions to get people involved. And then hopefully they’ll feel more connected to what happens and they’ll stop by more often.

      And I like it when I antagonize Scoble too. :p Thanks for the really great comment. It made me smile.

  • Randy S

    I would say my reasons are twofold:

    1. The community has a harsh vibe about them and you know that you will be castrated for what you say.
    2. (Actually a subcategory of 1) I’m afraid of making grammar/spelling mistakes that will end up making me look idiotic.

    I know that reason number 2 is pretty ridiculous, but it’s something I honestly think about. Thanks for inviting the participation.

    • Lisa Barone

      It’s not at ALL ridiculous. I think everyone has that fear. In fact, by reading the comments above, it sounds like “fear” is a pretty big reason why people don’t comment. I have to find a good way to make commenting less scary!

  • Data Entry Services

    I usually throw in a little “thanks for the info” or “I’m here and I hear you” kind of comments unless I really have something to say. I think asking questions (like you did here) is a good way to get people involved. Like: has anyone tried this or what do you think of that. I think you are pretty good at that already though.

    I’m a self taught SEO and I browse a lot of blogs for knowledge. Your blog is one of my favorites.

    • Lisa Barone

      You’re a pretty good commenter over here, so I definitely thank you for that. If we could just get you to add a first name in front of your handle, I’d be jumping for you. I like putting real names to faces. :) [Please?]

  • Rob

    This is my first time on this blog and I’ve now subscribed to your feed. Since I’m posting a comment, that means that I comment 100% of the time that I visit!

    Surely that must put me in the ‘heavy contributor’ category … yay me!

    • Lisa Barone

      haha look at you and your 100 percent comment retention rate. That’s something to be proud of, my friend. :)

      Thanks for finding us and saying hi. Hope to see you back. :)

  • Marjorie Clark

    Another fab discussion. Often what determines whether I comment is whether or not I feel welcome, which is why Ive posted here more often than other blogs. I also agree with the idea to rework the model as we now have so many more ways to comment and share. I’m off to retweet! Keep up the good work!

    • Lisa Barone

      Awesome. I’m glad you feel welcome and I thank you for contributing in other ways, as well. You’re right that we have SO many other ways to contribute on blogs these days other than “just” commenting. It’s still nice to see some familiar faces, though. :)

  • Frank Zimper

    65 comments and counting.
    I think now you know how you can push us from lurker to participant…
    Well done, Lisa!

    Frank (going back to lurking mode)

  • Alexander Duque

    Lisa, you had me at the belly dancing analogy! lol!! Seriously, I think it’s a combination of time, fear and content. (At least for me) I can appreciate this post and admit that it made me more comfortable and willing to leave this comment. So, along the same concept of your fruit loop instructor, The relationship and ease of feeling a part of something can be the lurking X-factor. Does this make any sense? Anyway, thank you and keep providing great info in your extra – ordinary way.

    • Lisa Barone

      The relationship and ease of feeling a part of something can be the lurking X-factor.

      I very much agree. I think the fact that this post received so many comments from new folks is a testament that sometimes people just want to feel included and like they’re part of the community.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Ben LaMothe

    I move from lurker to contributor when I come across a point that I feel strongly about. It doesn’t happen often, because for me, I read blogs to gather intelligence, not project. I’ve said before that I don’t really understand the value of leaving a comment just to tell someone how much you agree with them. I see people do it, but it’s not for me. If I have a strong stance, then I’m more likely to reply.

    • Lisa Barone

      Very respectable. I’m similar in that I don’t comment (often) on posts that I agree with. I typically comment to bring the other side of the conversation, so I totally get that. Thanks. :)

  • Michael D

    By the time I got here there were 71 comments. If it was a blog I don’t comment on regularly, or was a typical OSM post that had that many comments, I probably would not bother because 1) I’d feel I should at least review the comments before adding my 2 cents, 2) it somehow feels unimportant to leave a comment so far along in the conversation (unless of course I actually had something to add).

  • Bob Weber

    Just want to chime in and agree with the last few posters. There’s a limit, somewhere in the 20-50 comment range, where it just becomes too tedious to join in the conversation. I enjoy your posts, but when I have to read through a long thread that may not be written by authors at the same level of talent, and may veer way off topic, I quickly lose interest.

    There comes a point in every discussion where most of the relevant opinions have been discussed and additional comments (like this one) are just redundant.

    With that in mind, I’m interested in your thoughts Lisa. Is there a limit to the length of a conversation? How long is too long? Can you reach the point where every post you write gets the optimum number of comments to so everyone gets the maximum benefit from reading your blog?

    • Lisa Barone

      Do you mean is there a point the conversation just tires itself out? I think there is. I think there’s a definite ebb and flow to the comments where things are heavy for a bit and everyone’s adding things… and then everything’s been said and it’s just rehashing. I don’t know that there’s an “optimum number of comments” it’s about following the conversation and where it goes. It’s like following a story. Or, perhaps, creating one. I try to start it but you guys make it better and add all the juicy characters. :)

  • Justin Matthews

    I agree with michael about not wanting to leave comments when there are so many. sometimes it feels like they will never be read so why bother. I decided that in general if I felt something more than a little opinionated with the subject that I would comment no matter what. I also decided that I should be able to add a little bit to the conversation. There are many blogs that I have read today where “good post” was the only thing that I would have been inspired to say. I don’t want to leave those kind of comments just to get links so I don’t. I remain the lurker.

    • Lisa Barone

      See, i’m the total opposite. I love leaving “me too” comments all over the Web. Only I type it in ALL CAPS and add lots of exclamation points. :)

      No, I think that makes total sense. Thanks for sharing it. :)

  • Aaron

    The reason I lurk is because I’m not a marketing person. I’m a coder who’s trying to figure out these whole “marketing” and “business” things that no one mentioned in the decade I was learning programming. I don’t feel like I’m a participant, I feel like I’m a student. What’s more, I feel like I’m a student who’s suddenly been thrown into an advanced course, when maybe the remedial one is more his speed.

    I’m really good at what I do, but media, marketing, and branding are incredibly far outside the area of my expertise. So instead of commenting, I sit back, lurk, and hope to learn as much as I can.

    • Lisa Barone

      Heh. I actually think you may bring a totally different perspective into some posts because you’re a coder and not a boring, cookie cutter marketing person. You probably think of things in completely different ways than the rest of us. Never be afraid to speak up around here. We like it. Of course, just reading and trying to learn a bit is just fine too. :)

      • Aaron

        Thanks for the reply! Honestly, I think I’m going to try to be more involved in communities like this. I’ve already learned a LOT from your blog. One of my resolutions for this year was to learn more about how to market myself, and your blog has been a huge help in that regard. So I think that being more involved in comments and such may help me learn even faster.

        So I may not have a whole lot to say at the moment, but now that the lurking hurdle is cleared and I’ve commented once, I imagine that I’ll be more inclined to comment in the future.

        • Lisa Barone

          Awesome, Aaron! One of the best ways to learn is prob to pose questions in the comments and see if the community can help give you insight. There’s a lot of smart folks over here. Don’t be shy. :)

  • Heather Villa

    I’m in agreement with Michael and the rest of the later commenters. Once I see so many comments, I feel that I should read them all to contribute something of value and then it just comes down to a time issue. I just don’t have time to actively participate in all the great communities out here. So ultimately, I read a ton, but comment on very few.

  • Gerard McLean

    For someone who has the stones to tweet a hashtag #manup after watching the Dodge Charger Super Bowl commercial, I find very hard picturing you scared of throwing in your opinion on anything, anywhere. But, it’s probably not so far off the mark.

    We do a lot of stuff with soccer tournaments and the same formula exists for getting new volunteers into the organization, probably even worse because it is IRL. No hiding behind an avatar. Mostly, it is that first interaction — actually that first blink of that first interaction — that determines whether or not the person will become a volunteer. Bloggers, especially the “famous” ones, often are oblivious as to how scary that first step really is.

    A lot more stuff stuff here if you want to explore.


    PS. Lisa, my dog @dogwalkblog is still waiting on that guest blog piece. Funnel that passion, #manup and write the dang thing :-)

    • Lisa Barone

      It’s definitely scary speaking up for the first time on a new blog. And thanks for that link about the new volunteers. It’s funny how the same fears exist regardless of what we’re talking about.

      And oh noes, did I promise the puppy a blog post?! What was I supposed to blog about?

      • Gerard McLean

        Sorry.. you get so many comments that your reply to mine got lost! LOL No, seriously, it did …

        You had some opinions on the Dodge Charger ad and your #manup comment and we were going to carry on the twitter convo via a blog post. I inited you to guest blog at DogWalkBlog as I too have opinions….

  • Sherry Gray

    I’m a 9%er, I guess. I read every post, but not always when they’re fresh and the discussion is active. I’m not afraid to post, but I don’t always have something to contribute, and “gee, that was a swell post” just makes me feel….well, like I have nothing to contribute. Your contributors make intelligent observations, making the discussion lively, interesting and often controversial. I feel at home at that party, if only I could get there on time…

    But since you asked so nicely, I’ll jump in more often :D

  • Amy Gutierrez

    I’m still learning about most of the topics and don’t feel I’m really qualified to comment. My blogging and online marketing experience has been directly influenced by Outspoken, I’m working up from lurker to contributor, slowly but surely.

  • Jessica Harris

    You all say everything so well, I am usually left without further comment, other than “amen.”

    I love Outspoken because you say everything that I am thinking but cannot voice at work.

    • Lisa Barone

      haha thanks. And any time you have something you want to yell but cant because you’re at work just drop me an email or a tweet, I’ll yell it for you over here in Troy. :)

  • Shelly

    I’ll go ahead and comment – I’m a big lurker, myself, actually.

    Normally, I wouldn’t, but you asked nicely.

    The main reason I don’t comment most of the time is either 1) there’s too many people already commenting, and I feel like anything I have to say will be lost; 2) I tend to have foot-in-mouth disease, so when I try to say what’s in my head, it always comes out wrong and I end up sounding stupid; and finally 3) (which really goes along with 1) someone’s already said what I have to say. SO it’s kind of pointless to reiterate, I guess.

    I wish there were little “agree” buttons on comments – but then again, I spend a lot of time on Ravelry, so I’ve gotten used to them LOL

  • Chris @ The Basement Entrepreneur

    I love commenting. But then again, I’m a freak. :-)

    The best way to encourage comments is to ask for them. The last line of your blog post could be, “What do you guys think?” Every blogging expert gives this advice, so I’m not breaking any new ground with this advice, but it’s true. It works on me!

  • Amanda

    Given the subject matter here I think this is an issue of consumption vs. peer participation.

    The latter group are more likely to comment because you say something they either a) Amen and high-five you for or b) completely object to.

    The blog consumer is probably still in a browsing or learning phase, intimidated (which you accurately described on Chris Brogan’s blog) or insecure about being seen as ‘wrong’ in a space where reputations are paramount and break easily. You are also seen as an authority; if they read it here someone new to the field isn’t likely to contest it.

    My comments have been limited because I still feel like a consumer in this space.

    FWIW the best bang for my buck on the blogs I run has been to say something really objectionable. Strong opinions get commented on, linked to and republished. Pandering to extremes can win more than just elections.

    • Lisa Barone

      Pandering to extremes can win more than just elections.

      Yeah, I’ve been accused of that a few times, myself. Did you happen to read our Recession post (listed in the Popular Posts widget), by any chance? That one got an interesting reaction…

      • Amanda

        Yes, I definitely caught the Recession post. In fact, I believe that is what prompted me to begin following you on Twitter, fwiw. Great content, strong writing.

        And, wow… very strong opinions.

        Pissing people off is amazing commentbait.

  • Melinda

    Well, I am cybershy. As an introvert, I have a hard time starting conversations with strangers in real life (alcohol makes it a little easier), and this shyness carries over into the online world. Mack Collier had a great post on introverts and how we need to try harder at being social online ( So, I am still struggling with getting over that hump.

    • Lisa Barone

      Oh god, I am SUCH an introvert too. I go to conferences and practically attach myself to people. It’s sad, really. I definitely understand the feeling. Thanks for the post to Mack’s blog. I’m a big fan of his but hadn’t read that one.

  • Kathy Tito

    That’s the rub with social media – it’s a great platform for those of us who like to self-express via writing and/or video. That’s a very small percentage of people in the general population. That’s why certain professions exist – and not everyone is in them…entertainment, marketing, writing, etc.

    • Lisa Barone

      Wow, I totally hadn’t thought of it from that angle. That makes a lot of sense. I guess if we were all into communicating with one another online… there’d be a lot more people actually doing it. Thank you!

  • Matt Soreco

    I usually comment for 3 reasons:
    1) I can add something to the conversation that I know (know, usually not an opinion).
    2) To give due praise. Which I do here often.
    3) To ask a question or request more info.

    I usually don’t bother commenting if I think the conversation is way off base. If I think someone is very wrong about something, I don’t make it my mission to try to change their mind.

    • Lisa Barone

      That’s interesting, if only cause lots of other people said they comment ONLY when something is off base. Heh. I guess we all have different buttons. Thanks for being a good commenter over here. It’s been noticed. :)

  • Nathan Hangen

    Most of the time, my decision is either based upon time, if I’m knowledgeable enough about the subject to comment, or if the community is one that I think I’m compatible with.

    Some communities don’t take to new faces very well.

    • Lisa Barone

      Too true on that last point, and it sucks. I stay away from communities that appear to cliquish. It’s just a turn off and you feel like you’ll never be ordained into the inner circle anyway. So, if they’re not going to appreciate you, why bother?

  • Jennifer DiDonato

    I am a huge fan of “asking”. Two years into my blog, I have really seen an increase due to using that approach, along with a “call to action” with give-aways and contests. Plus, it reminds the readers/viewers that you actually care about what they think and you appreciate their viewership/readership and what they value about your blog : ) There is still much more work to be done to grow that 1% to 4%, but the journey is all worth the time and effort. This was an excellent post!

    • Lisa Barone

      Thanks, Jennifer. Yeah, “asking” does seem to help. I always feel a bit like a goober when I do it, but I guess I have to get better at it until people feel more comfortable being part of the community here. We all appreciate being asked to sit at the lunch table instead of having to try and find one ourselves.

  • Marge Piatak

    Thank You! At this point I am an ultimate stalker & actually thought I’m the only one out there. My blog is still in development, so I feel very much not qualified. At my age, most people are retiring or seriously considering it , so all this – blogs, Tweets, Facebook, etc. are all new to me. I love it, but don’t feel confident enough to put myself out there. Guess I just did & I’m still breathing – fabulous!

    • Lisa Barone

      Ha, you are DEFINITELY not the only one out there. I think more people are in your camp than the other. :) Intimidation seems to be a big fear for many of us, but as your comment shows, you can do it. And you’re still breathing and everyone. AWESOME! Thanks for speaking up on this one. We really appreciate you taking the time. :)

  • Stephanie M. Cockerl

    If something in the post resonates with me and I feel that I can contribute or shed light on the topic then I comment. Otherwise I don’t. I was taught that if I can’t say anything constructive, then its better not to say anything at all.

  • Kenny

    If you wrote this cause you want the usual commentors to shut up, it’s not going to happen.

  • Cathy

    Long-time fan (from your BC days). Like so many others, it boils down to a time element, especially since I’m a lousy typist.

    Your writing is brilliant, real and succinct yet thorough. Most of the time I just wanna way ‘bravo’ and since I’m not fond of ‘me, too’ comments, your posts are highlighted to others via my Google Reader and Twitter RTs.

    • Lisa Barone

      Thanks, Cathy. I’m finding there are lots of great folks who choose to contribute to the community in ways outside of commenting, which is great. It’s be interesting to see Jakob’s model refreshed to incorporate the “everyone else” of blog contribution.

  • Jonathan Patterson

    Based on that pyramid breakdown, most people are fearful for some reason or another, or unsure of themselves. I do not agree, I think the majority are participating 1% of there day. Wether or not it is @ yoursite, blog, twit, whatever is the question? isnt it?

  • Jonathan Patterson

    number 100, woot thats a 2% contribution, I am a nonlurker, lawls

  • Jonathan Patterson

    there = their in 99….. yep i did it, the “there/their”, thing – Hmm intentionally you might think… another post intentional, wait was this all planned. A plan to dismantal the very predispositional heart of HE IS A LURK!, hmmmm….. well I’ll as again innt it? <<<<< IRONY MUAHHAHAHAHHAH, LOVE TO THE OSM!

  • Shannon

    I am definitely a lurker and find it difficult to comment. Mostly from the “I don’t have anything of value to add” perspective and I hate to come across as a “me too” poster. I am much more likely to RT an article that I find of value though, figuring that as my contribution to the post. I am trying to step out of that box though and comment more.

    • Lisa Barone

      Awesome, thanks, Shannon. I think we all think we “don’t have anything valuable to add” when, really, we do. We just think we don’t. If this thread has shown anything, it’s shown that fear and insecurity runs rampant in Web communities. :)

  • Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman

    I’ve read that people are less likely to comment where no one else has, but for me, I think it’s the opposite: it’s a big deal for me to leave a comment after over 100 people have, because I figure you’re less likely to read it, the conversation has already gone elsewhere and so on. Hence why I didn’t comment on Chris Brogan’s “coming out of the lurker closet” post – over 1000 people already had, IIRC.

    Generally, I’m more likely to comment if I feel like I have something to say on the subject, if I feel like I have a pre-existing (online or offline) relationship with the blogger, or if I feel like the blogger is going to read and respond to what I have to say. Similarly, the number one reason I don’t comment is because I don’t feel like I have anything to add.

    In the case of your blog, I read it mostly to get new information, fresh perspectives and inspirations – benefits I don’t need to comment to access. I imagine many of your readers are in the same boat.

  • Sebastian

    If you’re still listening 2 months later: Just ask.

    See, it works. I’ve commented.

  • Sir Emeth


    As I was reading your above post, I had a sinking feeling I would be roped into commenting, even though this is the first time I have looked at your blog. I like it a lot so far. :)

    I generally make a sincere effort to post comments on blog posts that bring value to me. I also make a dedicated effort to reply to every comment on my own blog (like you seem to do). I learned that from another blogger (his blog is no more, sadly, but it was The Return of Scipio) who did it as well. He had a strong community there, and it seemed to stem directly from his personal interaction with it.

    People like to be noticed. Period.

    Something that I thought of (and which I am implementing as much as possible) to help get people to participate, but more to make their invisible participation that is already going on more visible to you and others.

    Instead of forcing them to rely on their own twitter sharing capabilities, provide them with a built-in one that is not only prominent but helps everyone see what is going on.

    Instead of letting everyone buzz stuff on their own, do it yourself too, and join in the discussion. I have seen more discussion on my buzz feed (and on facebook) than on my blog. Even though I am sure discussion goes on where I can’t see it, but I believe this approach brings me into it a bit more, making the community more personable.

    With joy and peace in Christ,
    Sir Emeth Mimetes

  • Jeff Young

    For me it’s the content. I come out of the murkiness of lurkdom when the content speaks to me. If it speaks to me, then I have personalized it in some way, and I discover that I have something to say about that content.

    Now, I admit that time has a role to play too. Often, I just don’t have enough time. Especially since I am a content producer too. I spend most of my time producing content rather than commenting on that of others. I realize that this is a problem. It is important to engage in the conversations going on around us. Not to mention the fact that we reap what we sow. And I want people to comment on my blogs too!

    But what can I do to stretch my time? I don’t have a concrete solution just yet.

    One more thought… I have noticed with my podcast that there has been a drop in comments on the website. Yet comments have increased on Twitter and the Facebook page. And email. Don’t know what that means exactly. But this type of feedback does build community. It’s just not on the main website.

    Do you find that your readers comment on your content in other places too? If you, do you think that commenting in other places diminishes the impact of your main site?