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Taking Advantage Of The 1% Rule Of Online Communities

Understand the 1% rule of online communities and how it can help you create a successful community.
Written by
Duncan Elder
Last updated
October 23, 2023

The 1% rule of online communities states that only 1% of website users actually generate content while the other 99% simply consume it. A variant of this is the 90-9-1 rule, which states that 90% of a community consists of passive observers, 9% actually engage with the content (i.e., through likes, shares, comments, etc.) and 1% generates it.

While the 1% rule has not been decisively proven to hold true across all communities, several peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated its consistency across multiple online groups, such as digital health social networks.

Participation Inequality

The 1% rule can also be understood as a form of participation inequality, a concept from the social sciences first attributed to online communities by Will Hill of AT&T Laboratories in 1992. The issue with participation inequality in this context, as described by Jakob Nielsen, is the negative correlation between a user’s posting frequency and the quality of their insights.

Hence, finding ways to mitigate participation inequality is a crucial task for community managers.

Duncan Elder
Content writer

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