On Tue, 25 Feb 2003, J C Lawrence wrote:
> > and RSS and other technologies will only increase the size of the
> > passive audience. I've gone back and forth over whether this is good
> > or bad, and finally decided to not worry about it.
> Yeah, a point there that shouldn't ignored is that with rare exception a
> large "leeching" audience is required to derive and support a smaller
> contributing audience.
I'm not sure whether that follows, but I certainly think that in some
contexts contributors are playing for the audience. Contributors --
instead of trying to persuade each other -- they are genuinely discussing
thing in hope of persuading the audience. This can help sustain
discussion, and and keep it more civil.
Now I've had a couple lists discussion lists die due to lack of
contribution (one survives only for announcements). But I don't blame the
lurkers for that. It didn't matter that there were 500 lurkers instead of
just 50. The problem was a lack of people willing to discuss things.
A fifth reason for lurkers (which I believe affected one of my lists) is
that people don't want to go on record for an informal discussion. In an
academic community a lot of the people who will see your posting may later
be evaluating you as a job candidate. If you unless you are confident
that you shine in discussions, you may wish to stay out of them.
Jeffrey Goldberg http://www.goldmark.org/jeff/
Relativism is the triumph of authority over truth, convention over justice
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