What did I learn about lurking? First, most of all recognized that lurking can be very positive. Lurking into an online forum because you feel you are a novice can make you more expert. Or scanning a wide variety of online forum to know what's happening in other fields (helps boundary crossing). Something that really struck me in Mirjam's paper was the observation by Stegbauer that if participants remained inactive for the first four months, the likelihood for them to become active was minimized. I recognized this from my own behaviour. That means there is a crucial period to try and get participants active, to stimulate active participation. Mirjam outlined a wide variety of barriers that may lead to lurking behaviour and withold members from posting:
- Interpersonal barriers- loss of face
- Procedural barriers- people don't buy into the recommended ways of sharing (could be called preferential barriers?)
- Technological barriers - lack of technological aptitude
- Cultural barriers- crosscultural differences
What did I learn about online facilitation? I made it into a sort of exercise in online facilitation for myself, designing and online-teleconference-online sequence. The idea was to collect lurker stories online, discuss the research focussing on lurking behaviour in online corporate community forums, and go back online to brainstorm about research questions. The first part worked well, but there was no energy to go back online to discuss the research questions. I think I should have changed the initial plan into a topic that might have attracted more energy for the participants of the teleconference, like research methodologies. What really paid off was to prepare it all together beforehand in a skype session. That's an investment that really pays off in terms of quality.