The 1% Rule

An interesting article in The Guardian describes the “1% Rule”:

it’s an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will “interact” with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it.

Question: does the 1% Rule apply to the Bloggernacle?

I haven’t been around since we emerged from the primordial slime of LDS-Phil, but nearly so. In the past few years I’d say that the 1% rule is being generous at best. Many, many more of us read and skim than comment, and many, many more of us comment than generate content of our own. I’ve wondered in the past why this is so, and others have as well (our own Karen hall has hinted at it in two separate posts, here and here). I’m not convinced that lurking is necessarily a bad thing, nor do I believe that everyone should get their own blogs going (though some should, I guess). The level of activity is an interesting concept, however. Let me throw out a theory, and you tell me whether you agree: the level of participation in the bloggernacle is roughly equivalent to the level of participation in the Church as a whole.

Of course I have only rough internet data to give me an idea of bloggernacle participation, and my data points for church activity are anecdotal at best, but I find it an intriguing idea. I think our little blog world is much more like our church world than we typically believe. The difference: Church activity needs to be increased. Does Bloggernacle activity need to be increased?


  1. I just wish you would quit sending the virtual home teachers around in hopes of reactivating me. Don’t you get it–I’m happy where I am! Tell me who I need to write a letter to and I’ll send it tomorrow. But I want the record to reflect that I left on my OWN and not because you EXCOMMUNICATED me.

  2. Mathew, you were emeritized by the BCC Court of Love. You have a long path ahead of you.

  3. I don’t know that it translates so well. the 89% are actually engaged. They just don’t want to comment. There are a lot of things I read and don’t comment on, and I don’t think I should have to. Not so in the Church.

  4. J., I actually disagree with you in part — I’m engaged in Church, but plenty of times in S.S. I just don’t want to comment, either, or help out with temple cleaning, or help someone move, or….

  5. In other words, I’m not saying that lurkers are the same as inactives, I’m just saying that the numbers are probably similar.

  6. Oh…I missunderstood. Interesting. I think that there are definately folks who are consistent doers (putting away chairs, sweeping the floor, commenting in Gospel Doctrine, etc.).

  7. Perhaps many are called to blog, but few are chosen. (I was going to just lurk on this post, but I decided to comment in hopes of thereby becoming one of the elect.)

  8. LOL, Lynnette, now your commenting and posting is made sure.

  9. Jothegrill says:

    do you really want us all to comment? every time? You would get a lot of pointless posts from me then, because sometimes I just don’t have a lot of thoughts to add. As for generating content, I would love to, but I don’t have the time or know how to have my own blog, and I figure people would get bored with me pretty quickly. I’m not academic or controversial. I’m just an ordinary person in a complicated world.
    In the church it’s different, partly because I really know the people I’m interacting with, and I know the answers and feel comfortable sharing my experiences. There seems to be a big difference in Relief Society lesson participaition and Elder’s Quorum participation though. Many are required to participate/ generate content. Although I suppose on any given Sunday there are less than 25 teachers and speakers in my ward, but they aren’t the same every week. In addition at least every other month we should be giving a visiting or home teaching lesson. But I know that there is usually a difference between what I ought to be doing and what I am actually doing. It seems the organization of the LDS Church is fighting against the 1% rule as much as it can.

  10. Last Lemming says:

    Even if the ratios are the same, there is not a one-to-one correspondence between bloggernacle participation and church participation. That 11% that is doing all the work at church is generally too busy to even lurk on the bloggernacle.

  11. Mr. Evans,

    It is “primordial ooze”, not “primordial slime”.

  12. Sorry Steve, you’re wrong.

  13. Bryce, I’ve been wrong before! Last week I thought that the fish sandwich at the cafeteria sounded good. But what am I wrong about, specifically?

  14. To give a little more color to the theory: what percentage of adult church members attend the temple regularly?

  15. I’m confused…..

    Where does the 1% come into it?

    10% are involved–89% just view.

    What’s the deal with the other 1%?

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    The one percent is the creator of content. So, in blog terms, 1% posts content on a blog, 10% post comments to blog threads, and 89% lurk.

  17. Got it, thanks Kevin.

    I could have figured it out had I read the article.

  18. The rule works very well in Sunday school. If 100 people are in the Gospel Doctrine class (we had at least that many when I subbed this week), 1 teaches, around 10 volunteer to read or comment, and the other 89 just listen.

  19. Or sleep.

  20. Mark IV says:


    I don’t think your idea works because there are only a few ways to participate in blogging (posting, commenting, lurking), but there are lots of ways to participate in church. For example, I’m often surprised when people I considered inactive show up to help somebody move.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    Holy smokes, you get 100 people out to SS? That’s our entire Sacrament meeting attendance. GD class is maybe 20 people in my ward.

  22. Steve,

    I can’t agree with the idea that commenters don’t generate content. To me that is like saying the only content in a conversation is found in what is first said.

  23. KLC, I don’t think I said that comments aren’t content, but they are not the chief content of any website.

  24. Kevin,

    I know — we are just waiting for a new building to be finished so we can split again (third split in 2 1/2 years). Plus I didn’t have a mic so I had to yell the lesson. But it worked out ok.

  25. I interpreted this,

    “…many more of us comment than generate content of our own.”

    as meaning the content is all in the OP.

    But I would still not agree that the chief content is in the OP. The sum of the comments of almost any reasonably active thread are always larger than the OP. One could argue that many of those are throwaways but one reason I continue to come back to BCC and other LDS blogs is that the ratio of interesting and thought provoking comments to throwaway comments is high. What makes so many LDS blogs worth reading is the active participation of thoughtful primary content with thoughtful secondary comments.

  26. I would like to see activity increased. I often feel like a blind GD teacher when I post.

    I think another difference here is that we are not really called and sustained in our blogging. We just act on our own.

    Bloggernacle burnout is real, and appears to be happening to many. If we want to have retention here, we may need to follow similar priciples that help retention here as we are told in the church. A friend, a responsibility, and nuturing by the word of God. How do we do at this in the Bloggernacle. My feelings is that as a group we fail worse here (the Bloggernacle as a whole) than the church does.

  27. Eric, why shouldn’t we let people stop participating in the Bloggernacle? Church activity is linked with worthiness to participate in ordinances, etc.– there’s nothing like that for blogging. I’m curious why you seem to feel that retention is an issue in the blogs. I don’t disagree, I just want to understand your view.

  28. D. Fletcher says:

    I like to comment only. I speak in abbreviations, anyway.

  29. Even though I have an opinion on almost everything, sometimes, it’s the wiser course to just keep it to myself.

    My husband reads all the same stuff I do – but I can count all his comments in the past two years on two hands. He’s also an introvert by nature. He keeps his own counsel.

    Here’s another thought: the people that read but don’t post or comment? They’re talking about you behind your back.

  30. D. Fletcher says:

    Hi, Ann!

  31. Thomas Parkin says:

    When I was active on Usenet – around 10 years ago – it became a “known fact” that 50,000 people read alt.gothic. That in spite of the fact that there were maybe 40,50 regular posters. I guess that would have been a .1% rule – 1% seems more reasonable. In any case, I mostly post anywhere I do post because I have a consuming need to be heard and admired – and judging by daily deluge of e-mails I get from lurkers, all the 89% do support me, not to mention love me.


  32. Steve:

    You will notice I said ‘if’ we want retention. Perhaps we don’t. One of the surprising things I am learning about myself through LDS blogging is that I do have a type of craving for interaction in discussing gospel topics. I would never have guessed that. Perhaps others don’t feel that.

    But even with that bit of a craving I have seriously considered ‘walking away’ from blogging partly because I often feel a bit irrelevant. Perhaps a bit like a new convert that doesn’t feel all that needed. But it is amazing how even a little sprinkle of comments can lift me. Perhaps a bit like a handshake and a brief conversation in the hall at church.

    Maybe we should not concern ourselves all that much with that in this world. Maybe we should keep it all about objective content, and ignore any social aspects of blogging.

    I almost can’t believe what I’m writing here. I’m usually the ‘if you want a friend buy a dog’ type.

  33. Steve Evans says:

    so far, about 3000 of you have read this post. Keep it up!

  34. Steve,

    Interestingly, I have the opposite gut feeling about the bloggernacle. As a blogger who is also LDS, but wasn’t even aware that something called the “bloggernacle” existed until I’d been blogging for a few years, I think the level of participation at Mormon blogs is much, much higher than in the blogosphere in general. I see a lot more passivity in blogs about politics, law or entertainment than I do in Mormon blogs, where interaction and community seem to be much more the focus. In fact, some Mormon blogs (not BCC as much) strike me as being almost closer to a buletin-board format than what I would consider a traditional blog, where most of the substance is found in the articles.

  35. D. Fletcher says:

    3000 visits to this thread doesn’t add up to 3000 readers. I bet you’ve come back here at least 1,500 times yourself Steve-o.


  36. Steve Evans says:

    Greg, if you have an opposite gut, I recommend this ice cream.

    I am glad to see that our propoganda is working: you fools actually believe that mormon bloggers value interaction and community. Hah!

  37. D. Fletcher says:

    I myself value the community, very highly. I’ve met quite a few of the bloggers here, in person, so the blogs were the way *in*.

    I also have a community of people I’ve met through my board.

    The other blogs, not so much. The community is just too huge.

  38. jjohnsen says:

    I want to know how often the 1% checks each site they’re commenting on? By the time I’ve hit various parts of the bloggernacle, the comments are pretty far into the topic and I don’t feel I have anything new to contribute. It only takes a few times submitting posts that consist of “I agree 100% with what Ronan or Rusty said” before I feel foolish.

  39. Steve Evans says:

    jjohnsen, you only need to utter the words “I agree 100% with Ronan” once if you want to feel foolish.

  40. jjohnsen says:


  41. I was thinking about this the other day in a related way. At Church I am very outgoing and always helping, making comments, being annoying. In the Bloggernacle, which I’ve been participating in (for the most part just reading) since 2002, I very rarely “speak.” I don’t think I could stand myself if I was as outgoing in the Bloggernacle as I am in “real” Church.

  42. I always agree with everybody sometimes.

  43. I’m not sure I’m ready to get introspective about this Mormon blog thing. It seems to be kinda like every other Mormon forum I’ve been on, except that I think there might be more people reading and posting.

    I don’t think analogies comparing the Church to the set of blogs make much sense — the Church actually accomplishes work, while posting, commenting and reading doesn’t feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help the moving or provide jello and potatoes to funerals. The amount of hours in a day are finite, and there comes a point where an hour on a blog is an hour less service to be rendered. OTOH, an hour on a blog can also be an hour less TV watched, or an hour less porn viewed.

    I don’t think I’m apt to get burned out. If I don’t have time to read blogs, I don’t read them. I’ve found a few posts that were informative, but most of the ones such I’m recalling come from Kevin and I’ve already read them (or earlier versions of them at least).

    I just come here for some interesting topics and a chance to talk about them with folks I haven’t already talked to — maybe to make a point somebody hasn’t already heard, and to see somebody make a point I haven’t already heard. It’s neither rocket science nor brain surgery, and it’s not the hardest hitting place to hang out that I’m on online.

    It really is just another set of forums to me.

  44. Idahospud says:

    Interesting ideas–and I bet the numbers are pretty representative. As a lurker who has been observing the Bloggernacle’s evolution for over three years now, I know several other lurkers IRL with whom I discuss ideas, posts, and yes, the (online personas of)regular posters themselves. Most of us are SAHMs who for one reason or another (mine is six kids, homeschooling, and online introversion) don’t post regularly or at all. This behind-the-scenes participation adds a whole new dimension/layer to your numbers; perhaps we are the quiet ones in SS who then apply the teachings anyway, or pass them along to those we visit teach?

    I met Julie Smith in person for the first time last week, while she was in Utah. She is as funny, articulate, interesting, classy, and brilliant as she “appears” online. I had actually “met” her on a homeschooling message board a few years back when she was writing her book and before she even guest-posted at T&S, and we’ve had several email exchanges. Even though she is among the 1% here and I am among the 89%, we were still able to discuss specific posts and ideas *in the celestial room of the Logan Temple*, no less. I guess what I am saying is that those of us who are the 89% in the Bloggernacle are not necessarily passive onlookers, but participators in another, but just as real, sense–we take the things we learn from the 11%’s exchange and discuss, dissect, and apply it in other, real-life fora. To clarify, I’m not saying that the 11% DON’T apply the ideas, I’m just saying that we can’t assume that lurkers don’t feel or act engaged, as well. As one who takes a long time to put ideas to paper, I am impressed and mystified how you 11% manage to maintain your level of participation day in and day out. In fact, I think each blog’s participants should post a “day in the blogging life” hourly play-by-play so the rest of us can see how you get it all done.

  45. Idahospud says:

    Sheesh. My first time posting at BCC and I kill a thread.

  46. Well, if it is any consideration Idahospud, now you know how the 1 percent feel when the post just sits there with no comments :)

    Really, that is a great comment and perspective. Some of my favorite people around are “lurkers” and it is fun to have off-line discussions of the online content.

  47. I would say it’s more like this:

    5% create
    15% interact
    80% view and enjoy

    A combination of the 80/20 rule, and the 95/5 rule.

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