It’s Delightful…It’s Delicious… It’s Delurking

What would it take to get the many readers who don’t comment, i.e. lurkers, to jump into the fray? We tried having a Lurker’s Month last September where we requested that the regular commenters hold off. It was an interesting experiment and one that might be worth revisiting, but maybe in a slightly different form.

Maybe we’re just too damned mean here on LG. But I have to point out that we do get regular, though maybe not frequent, comments from some really nice people, so it can’t be all bad. Maybe we should recruit some cheerleaders who volunteer to defend the newbies. Griff does a pretty good job moderating but he really likes to throw people into shark-infested waters to see if they’ll sink or swim.

I talked with someone a couple of weeks ago who reads all the comments daily, who said he just hasn’t gotten up the nerve yet to make any of his own. Would anything make it easier? Would it make a difference if we had more posts on non-controversial topics? What might help?


  1. John S. Thomas said:

    Controversial topics is what LoGroNo is all about right?

    Take a look at the right side bar. You either have “news” pieces with very little response, or controversial topics with a boat load of responses, or some random fluff pieces.

    I do my best to engage folks, and ask questions, but my BIGGEST frustration is the fact that no one wants to answer those questions.

    I want to learn from the discussions and folks posting, but it still feels like an exclusive club that I am intruding upon sometimes.

    I am very open to assisting and doing whatever it takes to open the discussion up to a wider audience.

    I also think though, that it takes a thick skin, Kevlar underwear, body armor, and an armored personnel carrier to be here sometimes.

    To post here, one has to be willing to stand up and take the incoming rounds that come with their comments. I have accepted that challenge, and have learned over as many months (years?) where those boundaries lie.

    I still need to meet some of the folks that post here F2F, so that is why I post a real picture of myself.

    I have always been willing to stand up and defend my opinions, and take my lumps. I don’t know how many lurkers are willing to do that.

    I guess the discussion environment would have to be a bit less hostile sometimes. If you look at the history, some of the topics have gotten rather heated. Even something as simple as DARE for instance, generated quite the animated discussion.

    Thanks for letting me use some of the LoGroNo electrons. I appreciate the forum.


    April 17, 2008
  2. kiffi summa said:

    John T: I agree with your biggest frustration; I have also noticed that sometimes the most serious direct question gets not only no answer, but no response of any kind… Chalk that up to fear of public exposure? I don’t know.

    But, I’ve also noted that posts that are too complex (number of ideas) don’t usually get answered, i.e. you had at least ten thought provoking ideas in a recentpost on the HV thread. So a person would have to make a list and respond to all, or select what to respond to, OR ask why you didn’t become an urban planner instead of a techno-head (kindly meant, I assure you).

    I’m a total novice at this, but those are just some observations. I’ve had many people comment that they read LG all the time but “just don’t” comment. Not being a reticent person myself, I’m not sure why that is, and if you ask, most just say, “well, I just don’t” .

    April 17, 2008
  3. John S. Thomas said:

    I think that to really make this work, as in any discussion… you have to be an active participant.

    I wonder if folks just don’t have the time to engage.

    I have to also admit, that the thoughts on the Hv post were not entirely my own, but discussed recently among some friends over wine. I wanted to bring them here to see what the response was. We have had several conversations, and the pearls just get polished, and we keep stringing them along.

    I like being a techno-head. It pays the mortgage. 😎

    I hope to make enough while I am young, so that I can stick around town and go great things as I mature.

    Here’s to more active discussions!

    April 17, 2008
  4. Felicity Enders said:

    I think it’s a bit dangerous to exclude the usual suspects for a month, since some of us already have a tendency to get distracted. What about instead having several lurker-only threads to discuss some of the big and not-so-big topics in town?

    April 18, 2008
  5. David Schlosser said:

    A couple of thoughts…

    From my perspective, I only really post when it’s either something that I’m knowledgeable about or passionate about. I have really only posted on 3 different subjects over the years…the recent Chamber piece (as an active yet frustrated Chamber member) and the prayer ladies controversy (as a member of the Human Rights Commission). While I read LG every single day, I don’t feel the need to comment–and don’t comment–on issues with which I’m unfamiliar or don’t know anything about. And I agree that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, people aren’t shy here about telling you that!
    I’m not sure that being less controversial or posting about different subjects would change how often I post. I think you’ll always have a fair number of people who will just read LG or post only sporadically no matter what you do.

    That being said, it does get frustrating at times to see the same people posting over and over again with very long posts. When that happens, sometimes people (I) don’t even read the entire thing, and that can keep people (me) from reading or posting. Anyway, you certainly don’t want to quash participation, but perhaps there’s some creative way to keep the very long postings a bit shorter.

    I too get frustrated that questions I pose don’t get answered. I’m still waiting for answers to a few of those and probably will be a year from now…but I think that’s one of the issues with blogging. It’s easy to dodge a question and just move on and continue spouting your own message. Face-to-face discussion can better get those questions answered.

    April 18, 2008
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    David S, I agree, it can be frustrating to have questions not answered. When I put my formal online moderator hat on, like I’ve done for the community issue forums, I do try to make sure questions asked are addressed.  That level of moderating is time-consuming, tho, so I don’t do it for these informal discussions. But it can be done online, just like F2F.

    April 18, 2008
  7. kiffi summa said:

    John: Now I’m getting super-sensitive; no disrespect intended in saying maybe you should be an urban planner instead of a “techno-head” … knowing that you work in IT, but not knowing inexactly what capacity, I used “techno-head” as a field of endeavor.
    Sorry, if it was misunderstood.

    April 18, 2008
  8. Peter Schleif said:

    Alright, I’ll bite. I don’t even live in the Northfield area, but hope to relocate there soon. I check this site daily, and admire the civil, intelligent and often humorous debate. I hereby officially shed my “lurker” status.

    April 18, 2008
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Yay, our first delurker! Welcome, Peter. And do tell us a bit more about your hopes to move to Northfield.

    April 18, 2008
  10. Speaking of F 2 F.
    David S. wrote, “Face to face discussions can better get those questions answered.”
    We are planning a second F 2 F Northfield social gathering at Froggy Bottoms during Happy Hour (4-6 p.m.) and beyond on Tuesday, May 20, in the party room (which has deck access). It is for bloggers, contributors to blogs and those LURKERS who, once they meet contributors, might be emboldened to lurk less and contribute more. Also for anyone who just wants to meet people and have a little fun on a Tuesday in May. Bienvenidos a todos.

    April 18, 2008
  11. Tracy Davis said:

    Peter, thanks for de-cloaking for the time being. I hope to be able to meet you when you’re in town.

    John and David, you both bring up good points about the frustration with questions not being answered…. I’ve experienced that myself (and contributed to it as well, I’m sure). People have to have the motivated to respond, and the time to do so. I often suffer from a lack of both.

    On the other hand, sometimes people post questions here that require a fair amount of time and follow-through to research. I figure that if the topic/question is important enough to them, they’ll do the work themselves.

    If you’re serious about persevering, though, sometimes adding a comment to an old thread can revive the discussion, often with new participants, and more information can be gained.

    April 18, 2008
  12. I am about to jump off because there is no follow up and I feel like I am talking to air most of the time. Plus there is no accommodation by people who are asking for action, but have set the stage and won’t change to allow people who don’t fit in that space exactly, in my experience.

    April 18, 2008
  13. Sam Dunnewold said:

    “What would it take to get the many readers who don’t comment, i.e. lurkers, to jump into the fray?”

    More Star Trek based avatars.

    April 18, 2008
  14. John S. Thomas said:

    Kiffi. No offense taken. Just stating that being a tech-head is a way of life, one I enjoy quite a bit. 😎

    Your husband had a wonderful F2F conversation today, and he was quite helpful on some questions I had.

    Speaking of Star Trek, I just wish I could get some of those Star Trek tech toys… The transporter to get me to St. Paul and back would be pretty cool, based on today’s gas prices.

    Thank god for the big white transporter (vanpool). There is nothing like posting to LoGroNo while doing 65 up the highway to St. Paul. (not driving of course). Broadband cellular cards are a wonderful thing. Isn’t technology grand?


    April 18, 2008
  15. Janine Stiles said:

    I am a lurker that has posted a few times and also a future Northfielder. The way I see it there are two types of people on blogs…the posters and the lurkers. Occassionally the posters just lurk and the sometimes the lurkers post. If it weren’t for lurkers who would read the posts of the posters? If it wasn’t for the posters us lurkers (given our propensity to stay on the sidelines) would be out of touch with this big, vast world of the internet.

    Though I think it is down right nice that you want to bring the lurkers out into the light of day, I think some of us are just destined to be only occassional posters. If people are holding back from posting for a reason and you wish to fix it…great. However keep in mind there will always be those of us that prefer to lurk and only jump in once in awhile.

    Once we relocate to Northfield maybe I’ll post more, but considering my history with a few other blogs and online communities I will probably still do more lurking than posting.

    I will now go back to lurking ……..

    April 18, 2008
  16. Tracy Davis said:

    Sam… ask your parents if I get extra credit for combining Star Trek references with Cole Porter lyrics…

    April 18, 2008
  17. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey Janine, thanks for posting… and great to hear you’re also considering a move to town. Are you still Health Programs Director with the MN Senior Federation?

    April 18, 2008
  18. Felicity Enders said:

    Peter and Janine – welcome to town, in advance! Patrick and I both lurked quite a bit before our move. It was a great way to observe the level of consideration regarding changes in town, which we see as a major strength of the community.

    April 19, 2008
  19. Bob Gilbertson said:

    As one who reads this blog often but has posted only a couple times, I’ll say that I think you folks do a very good job and that from my perspective it would be a negative if regulars stopped posting for a month. I find some of you more interesting than others, but it’s easy to skip the posts I don’t want to take the time to read.

    My lack of posts is not due to a worry that someone will disagree with me. Sure, posters here sometimes get a little spirited in their comments, but that’s part of why it’s a good blog. I don’t think you’ve got much of a problem here with people personalizing their criticisms.

    April 19, 2008
  20. David Ludescher said:

    Tracy: Maybe you could have some kind of polling for the lurkers so that they could vote on the quality of the blogs and posts without actually posting an opinion.

    April 19, 2008
  21. Sometimes it may be that there is not a topic which is familiar enough for anyone to even ask a question. My suggestion to alleviate this situation is to have an ongoing miscellaneous topic heading where people can freely start any good rule abiding thread or conversation or simply state their valuable opinion, without waiting for a topic to be cleared by the big three.

    Of course, I think it’s a fantastically amazing idea. Anyone else?

    April 20, 2008
  22. Bill Ostrem said:

    I classify myself as a less-frequent commenter, though I may be wrong about that.

    I’m not sure if this has already been suggested, but one idea would be for Locally Grown to label certain posts for less-frequent or new commenters and ask others to not comment there.

    More technically complicated would be to have your system automatically tally comments people make and include the total # with the commenter’s name. Some sites do this, as you probably know, though they probably require a log-in. Then you could ask for certain posts to not include comments by people with a certain # of comments or perhaps even exclude them electronically.

    Of course listing # of comments might foster more comments from those who already do it a lot – as they seek to get the highest number!

    I get a little frustrated when people don’t use the terms “blog,” “post,” and “comment” in the same way. I know Griff has tried to educate people on this. Correct me if I’m wrong, triumvirate, but Locally Grown as a whole is the “blog”; a “post” is what the triumvirate enters into the blog for the rest of us to “comment” on. Thus we commenters are not “bloggers” per se or even putting up “posts”; we’re just lowly commenters. It gets a little more complicated because the triumvirate, or blogger (or post-er), can also enter comments.

    Of course anyone can start their own blog for free and do their own posts! Then see if you get any comments!

    April 28, 2008
  23. Tracy Davis said:

    I’ve appreciated all the feedback on this post.

    In general, I believe LoGro’s civility guidelines are adequate to ensure that this is a safe place to venture an opinion. But as several commentors pointed out, many just prefer to read, lurk, and ponder, rather than weigh in on the discussion. That’s fine, too. I just like to do a reality check from time to time, to see if we can or should do things differently.

    I like the idea of rating posts, and possibly even rating comments. Griff and Ross and I have talked about it in a general sense, and I think it’s time to revisit the idea and see what the technical possibilities and limitations might be.

    April 29, 2008

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