Lessons from a Reformed Lurker

Ok I admit it… I was an Internet lurker. By this, I mean that I was one of those people who read discussions on forums and message boards but never participated. As someone who now enjoys making a contribution on the Internet, I thought I would take a look at some lessons I have learnt.

Firstly, was there anything wrong with being a lurker? My former lurking could best be described as benign (see the Wikipedia lurker page). That is, my lack of motivation to contribute can probably be explained by feeling uncomfortable expressing my thoughts online accompanied with a touch of laziness. I was certainly never a smart-ass or perverted lurker. So in this sense, my lurking never impacted negatively upon anyone else. That said, I have learnt the following:

Lesson 1: Lurking Reflects an Mindset of Taking Without Giving

I have come to see though that lurking is reflective of a certain mindset. This is a mindset of taking without giving anything in return. Just imagine if everyone on the Internet had this attitude. There would be no content as no one would be contributing anything! The Internet is what it is today because many people feel the desire to contribute, whether it be a big way (creating a popular site) or a small way (simply leaving a comment of appreciation after an informative or enjoyable post).

Lesson 2: You Gain a Greater Understanding of a Topic When You Write About It

I enjoy reading others’ posts and responses to them because I come into contact with new ideas, different viewpoints and personal experiences. I find that I get the most value from these when I write a response because the process of writing makes me fully reflect on my own ideas, viewpoint and personal experience.

Lesson 3: Synergy is a Great Thing

What I often find when reading forums or blogs is that the thread or comments can take on a life of their own. You never quite know where an active discussion between people from different countries, cultures, political leanings, etc may end up! Every so often I come across a thread or comments on a blog that reflect the idea of synergy. That is, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. The individual contributions of a number of people create a greater understanding for the whole group.

19 thoughts on “Lessons from a Reformed Lurker”

  1. I used to be like that, always reading the content and don’t participate at all. A couple of months ago I realized that it would be more fun to write a comment more often.

    The advantage of this is, that I get in contact with other bloggers, which taught me lot over the last months.

    You have a great blog, keep up the good work!


  2. I really need to stop lurking. And to do that, I’m going to start with a simple act… I’ll leave you a comment to show my appreciation. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and for helping, and inspire others to have a better outlook on life.

    1. I am surprised that lurking is considered toxic by some people. I have no reason to engage a discussion if there is nothing that I wish to say. How can the act of reading a thread, but not writing a comment exert a negative impact on another individual? The conclusion of your reflexion is merely an assumption: you are assuming that lurking reflects a certain mindset (taking without giving). I am sorry, but you have to think again. I can be a lurker on Twitch for example, but STILL contribute to a forum by writing an analysis on a particular character in a manga or debating with someone. The “lurking attitude”

      1. The “lurking attitude” that you speak of may underly actual and serious psychological issues (depression, anxiety…) In this case, simply not wanting to share an idea on the web might be much more complex and is NOT a result of selfishness. I am highly triggered by this article.

  3. Never thought of reading content and never responding as a negative. The idea that it is our responsibility to post comments,( the give and take of it) is one of those great ideas that make so much sense. Thanks for a great site and good info ; )

  4. “HI, My name Is Cameron, I am a lurker….”

    Brilliant post! Thanks for snapping me out of my long and drawn out stage of “silent think”.

  5. Hi Peter,
    Just to stop my lurking attitude and since I am reading your inspiring ebook and getting a lot of valuable ideas, I just want to let you know that some links are broken like the link in the ebook pp 6
    will not work while
    works, the same applies for the links in the change-my -life article.
    so I did get the links right but I thought I let you know .
    Thanks for this site

  6. I guess I should stop lurking and contrite something. This is a great post, I never really thought about the fact that if everyone was a lurker then there wouldn’t be any content on the web. Great insite

  7. I have to admit this is the first comment on a random web page i googled…
    thanks for helping me come out of my “silent think” too!

  8. Haha, I guess I better stop lurking too. So to start with, I’ll actually leave a comment for once :)

    I’ve read lots of your posts and have really enjoyed them! I’m addicted to this blog now.

    Thanks for writing such insightful articles!

  9. hi peter thanks man…..by reading ur blog i have change my perspective towards life………ur just awesome man…..i m also a lurker but from now onwards i will make a point to write comment s…..

  10. Thanks for this post. Yes, I’ve very much been a lurker but your comment about the give and take really hit home. Thanks again! :)

  11. Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. Before reading this article, I never gave it any thought of learning without providing any sort of feedback, as selfish. Lesson learned.

  12. I’m sure most of these comments are from people who are lurkers themselves (lol) but I really think this is a good article. I never thought about it, but I suppose I am a lurker as well. I take in a lot of information while I’m surfing and I have read a lot of good articles, but often too lazy to comment.

    I will make a better effort to contribute more. Thank you.

  13. I normally don’t comment because I’m concerned with backlash or just being ignored, but late in 2014 i decided that needed to change. I started posting to twitter again under a different account with no followers and very quickly I had switched back to my real account posting things as i thought of them. Next step, actually visiting Facebook again. It’s going to be a good year!

    1. That’s pretty much how I felt. I actually started reforming my lurking ways this week and while I’m not exactly having my social media accounts bursting at the seems with @replies, I definitely feel better about contributing to the communities I’m a part of.

  14. I guess I’ll join the bandwagon and stop being a lurker myself. Been meaning to do so for a while now, anyway. Why not?

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