The emerging 1% rule

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —July 24, 2006
Filed in Collaboration

The Guardian has pulled together some statistics suggesting that for every 100 people online only 1 person will create content and 10 will “interact” with it. The other 89 will just view it.

Here are some stats from the article:

  • each day at YouTube there are 100 million downloads and 65,000 uploads
  • 50% of all Wikipedia article edits are done by 0.7% of users, and more than 70% of all articles have been written by just 1.8% of all users
  • in Yahoo Groups, the discussion lists, 1% of the user population might start a group; 10% of the user population might participate actively, and actually author content, whether starting a thread or responding to a thread-in-progress; 100% of the user population benefits from the activities of the above groups

My own research with Trish Milne shows a similar ratio. In our survey of ActKM members (a mostly online knowledge management community of practice) 78% said they’ve never contributed to the online discussion yet were regular readers. The regular posters on ActKM would account for about 1–5% of the membership.

The important message for me is this: look after your content creators because it’s tough building online communities and you must encourage those people who contribute.

[thanks to Nerida Hart for the pointer]

Milne, P. & Callahan, S. D. 2006. ActKM: the story of a community. Journal of Knowledge Management, 10(1): 108-118.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. well, it could be worse: In big corporations, the opposite may happen: WORN or Write-Once-Read-Never. Many many people busy typing and documenting things that no-one ever reads or needs…

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