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How anybody can write that many reviews — let alone read that many books — is beyond me, but it's a classic example of participation inequality. If lurkers want to contribute, they are usually allowed to do so.The problem is that the overall system is not representative of average web users.This finding comes as no big surprise, for 3 reasons: You can't.The first step to dealing with participation inequality is to recognize that it will always be with us.And you would never hear from the silent majority of lurkers.There are about 1.1 billion Internet users, yet only 55 million users (5%) have weblogs according to Technorati.(That is, only 80% lurkers, with 16% contributing some and 4% contributing the most.) Although participation will always be somewhat unequal, there are ways to better equalize it, including: Your website's design undoubtedly influences participation inequality for better or worse.
This phenomenon of participation inequality was first studied in depth by Will Hill in the early '90s, when he worked down the hall from me at Bell Communications Research.Even in this “alternative fact” world, I’m always surprised when I’m asked to defend online dating, because it needs no defense.Yet I’ve written a book about online dating called “I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book.” I created e-Cyrano profile writing to help attract higher quality prospects online.Are you going to have the usual 90–9–1 distribution, or the more radical 99–1–0.1 distribution common in some social websites?Can you achieve a more equitable distribution of, say, 80–16–4?