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The 1% Rule


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May 10, 2006

The 1% Rule

Heather Green

The Church of the Customer writes about the 1% Rule--Where 1% of participants at a site end up creating most of the content. (While according to Yahoo's Bradley Horowitz, 10% actively interact with it, while the rest remains more of an audience.)

At first glance, you would think that 1% is a small number and that that undercuts the power of social media. But consider that the rule seems to hold true for Wikipedia. And that Wikipedia has become one of the 7th most popular site on the Web, according to comScore. Then suddenly trying to figure out how to be relevant and interact with that 1% seems pretty important, if you're an established company.

08:03 AM

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?? Web 2.0: Don?? Trust Anyone Who Isn?? Greedy from Left Media

An absolutely fascinating, if a little old, post on the?usiness Week Blogspottingblog, about a dirty little secret at Wikipedia: it’s Pareto on steroids. 1% of the visitors do most of the editing. The same lopsided ration apparently applies t... [Read More]

Tracked on May 11, 2006 08:08 PM

the same is true for any medium. there's always been a vocal minority. back in the days when people used snail mail to write letters to the editor, for example, i think the rule of thumb was that if one person takes the time and makes the effort to send a letter, a thousand people probably thought of doing the same. These are "the influencers" that PR people like to talk about and no longer seem to know how to reach.

Posted by: B.L. Ochman at May 10, 2006 11:04 AM

I recently discovered that Wikipedia appears to have been turned into a kind of online roleplaying game by more than a few of those 1%. After someone posted an entry for a concept I proposed, a group of Wikipedia regulars called immediately for deletion. I found it curious that the original concept proposal the entry referenced hadn't been sufficiently accessed on my website; in effect, it appeared that - at best - only one person there had bothered to research the admittedly difficult-to-understand concept.

Upon doing some research, what I learned about those individuals was a bit depressing (links to them are on my blog). And what I confirmed about the public's penchant for "non-leveling" behavior was unfortunate.

I've posted previously here that corporations need to be wary of consumer-created content and especially advertising. But it's also all of us who need to be wary of the other ways that only 1% can screw good things up.

Posted by: csven at May 10, 2006 11:33 AM

csven,

I think you might be over-generalizing. Let's state the facts: (1) Wikipedia, for the most part, is an amazing resource of information, and (2) most of this amazing information has been contributed by less than 1% of the community (Jimmy Wales also mentioned this statistic at WikiSym 2005).

Perhaps your personal experience has to do with 1% of the 1% of Wikipedians that have done and are doing a great job.

Posted by: Erik Kalviainen at May 10, 2006 12:18 PM

Maybe it is due to the fact that many people are attracted to things due to their 'novelty' aspect but quickly loose interest.

To be noticed, you need to spend time and effort to get visible. For example in the past month, I have been sharing my 'Serge the Concierge' blog posts on 'Now Public'and have noticed interest picking up after a while.

Have a good day

Serge

Biz:

http://www.njconcierges.com

Blog:

http://www.sergetheconcierge.com

Posted by: Serge Lescouarnec at May 10, 2006 12:20 PM

"I think you might be over-generalizing. Let's state the facts: (1) Wikipedia, for the most part, is an amazing resource of information, and (2) most of this amazing information has been contributed by less than 1% of the community (Jimmy Wales also mentioned this statistic at WikiSym 2005)."

Nothing I say contradicts this. A military person operating a remotely-piloted aircraft can roleplay as a fighter pilot all they want - the results are the same. Being "wary" is simply prudent, I think you'd agree.

"Perhaps your personal experience has to do with 1% of the 1% of Wikipedians that have done and are doing a great job."

Not according to what I've learned which is, admittedly, confined to a single and rather unique case. However, when people aspire - in Walter Mitty fashion - to levels of recognition not afforded them in their real lives, we should expect some degree of what I found: people spending enormous amounts of time on a daily basis trying to rack up "edits" and thus reputation points. One person even discusses his own modest Wikipedia ambitions on his personal website. I'd never even considered this possibility.

Posted by: csven at May 10, 2006 01:03 PM

If 1% typically create most of the content, I can't help but wonder what percent typically create most of the value. Given the signal-to-noise ratio on the web, I'd guess that a fraction of that 1% is responsible for 90% of what's really good out there.

Posted by: Chris MacDonald at May 15, 2006 12:01 AM


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