|How Many Forums...|
do people stay active in?
Most people who post in forums do so in more than one. I've got a couple of dozen logins, but only check in on a few forums regularly.
It seems logical, too, that as one's involvement in one community increases, it becomes a zero-sum game, i.e., participation may drop off elsewhere.
How real of a phenomenon is this, and are many people really active in multiple forums?
I'm currently active in 6, but that's mostly in lurking mode with an occassional "Ditto".
>participation may drop off elsewhere
Definitely. There are a finite number of keystrokes on any given day. The exception might be the "Dancing Bears" that are working forums for fame & fortune ...you know the ones, posting everywhere, mod-ing in 2 or 3, a blog on the side.
Hmmm. Well, when I wasn't working full-time, I actively posted on 6 - 8 forums, in a probable aggregate total of 100+ topics on any given day, and some days my post total no doubt exceeded 200 posts.
Obviously, I can't do that and actually WORK too! I have several forums of my own that I moderate, posting when needed or when a discussion is of serious interest to me. And WebmasterWorld. And three other "outside" forums with varying interests (*sigh* my middle name [besides b***h!] is "dilletante"....)
Here and one other for posting. I lurk heavily and post little (relatively) at one other. And lurk at a couple others occasionally.
I think the bigger challenge is to be a part of multiple communities. Most of the other forums I post at are fine groups of people, but my involvement tends to be more businesslike - show up to research a technical issue, answer a few questions where I can, perhaps ask one myself... That makes me active, but not really part of the community in a meaningful way.
|I think the bigger challenge is to be a part of multiple communities. |
You nailed it there Roger.
Including here, I'm active on three forums, two of which I own. One of those two was recently launched so I'm still nurturing it and I'm there a lot. The other one is way down the line and has it's own life without my needing to be there. On that one, I definitely feel like I am losing touch with the community (a shame), although I still feel like daddy when I go there ;-)
I Moderate on 2, actively post on 3 more and lurk on 2 others. But those figures shift depending on my workload, i.e. how much time I can spend learning or how much working. But I get paid to do both :)
I also visit half a dozen or so of non proffesional hobby forums.
Could you define what you mean by...
|part of the community in a meaningful way. |
I see this "part of the community" thing pop up on forums from time to time and it alsways puzzles me a bit.
|part of the community in a meaningful way |
I can't speak for rogerd of course, but when I was at school we had this kid in the class who was constantly ill (or constantly away anyway). He used to turn up to a class maybe once or twice a month.
Rest of the time he was at home, getting personal one-to-one tuition.
He managed to get all his exams, and to all intents and purposes he learned the same stuff that all the rest of us did. But it never felt to us like he was part of the class.
WebmasterWorld is the only forum I've managed to stay active in. :)
|Could you define what you mean by... "part of the community in a meaningful way." |
I suppose the definition could vary from person to person, but I'd say the key elements would be knowing, and being known by, other forum members. E.g., if I went to a forum you participated in and asked ten very active forum members (or mods), "What do you think about ken_b?", I might get a range of responses:
- "Is he still around?"
- "Sounds familiar."
- "I've seen him around lately."
- "He posts quite a bit, knows his stuff"
- "Good guy. Posts a lot, really knows his industrial widgets. Started a new job last week, so he may be scarce for a while."
The more the answers fall in the last part of the response range, the more I'd say you are a member of the community. Other indicators might be time spent on site, time spent helping other members (as opposed to getting your own issue solved and leaving), inclination to help the forum (by moderating or other volunteer activity), etc.
This is more of a continuum than a cutoff - in any community, be it web or in-person, you have very involved members, not-so-involved members, and entirely uninvolved members.
I moderate two fora, one of which I'm heavily active in, the other not so much. There's two other fora I'm moderately active in and a third which I contribute to very occasionally... oh and this place, which is my favourite place to come when I'm on a coffee break.
Yes, I have a lot of coffee breaks...
I can't see myself doing more forum activity than that. I was looking on cutting down actually.
OMG I have enough trouble keeping up with one forum let alone 10! I am a member of at least 6 but I only participate in WebmasterWorld on a semi-regular basis (aside from my own forum). The others are catch-as-catch-can.
>> there are a finite number of keystrokes
Bingo. And I'm still empire building so most of my time is spent on that.
I moderate four, three of which I post in quite a bit. I'm semi-active in two or three more. Only one of the four I moderate requires heavy moderation; i.e., banning, deleting, explaining, etc.