1% rule (Internet culture)
In Internet culture, the 1% rule or the 90–9–1 principle (sometimes also presented as 89:10:1 ratio) reflects a hypothesis that more people will lurk in a virtual community than will participate. This term is often used to refer to participation inequality in the context of the Internet.
The 1% rule states that the number of people who create content on the Internet represents approximately 1% (or less) of the people actually viewing that content. For example, for every person who posts on a forum, generally about 99 other people are viewing that forum but not posting. The term was coined by authors and bloggers Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, although earlier references to the same concept did not use this name. For example, a large 2005 study of radical Jihadist forums by Akil N Awan found 87% of users had never posted on the forums, 13% had posted at least once, 5% had posted 50 or more times, and only 1% had posted 500 or more times.
The "90–9–1" version of this rule states that 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content, and 90% view the content without contributing.
The actual percentage is likely to vary depending upon the subject matter. For example, if a forum requires content submissions as a condition of entry, the percentage of people who participate will probably be significantly higher than one percent, but the content producers will still be a minority of users. This is validated in a study conducted by Michael Wu, who uses economics techniques to analyze the participation inequality across hundreds of communities segmented by industry, audience type, and community focus.
This can be compared with the similar rules known to information science, such as the 80/20 rule known as the Pareto principle, that 20 percent of a group will produce 80 percent of the activity, however the activity may be defined.
The 1% rule is often misunderstood to apply to the Internet in general, but it applies more specifically to any given Internet community. It is for this reason that one can see evidence for the 1% principle on many websites, but aggregated together one can see a different distribution. This latter distribution is still unknown and likely to shift, but various researchers and pundits have speculated on how to characterize the sum total of participation. Holly Goodier, in conjunction with the BBC presented research in late 2012 suggesting that only 23 percent of the population (rather than 90 percent) could properly be classified as lurkers, while 17% of the population could be classified as intense contributors of content. Several years prior, communication scholars Eszter Hargittai and Gina Walejko reported on a sample of students from Chicago where 60 percent of the sample created content in some form.
Participation inequality 
A similar concept was introduced by Will Hill of AT&T Laboratories and later cited by Jakob Nielsen; this was the earliest known reference to the term "participation inequality" in an online context. The term regained public attention in 2006 when it was used in a strictly quantitative context within a blog entry on the topic of marketing.
See also 
- What is the 1% rule? by Charles Arthur, The Guardian, Thursday 20 July 2006
- McConnell, Ben; Huba, Jackie (May 3, 2006). "The 1% Rule: Charting citizen participation". Church of the Customer Blog. Archived from the original on 11 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- Horowitz, Bradley (February 16, 2006). "Creators, Synthesizers, and Consumers". Elatable. Blogger. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- Awan, A. N. (2007b) 'Virtual Jihadist media: Function, legitimacy, and radicalising efficacy', in European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 10(3), pp. 389–408.
- Wu, Michael (04-01-2010). "The Economics of 90–9–1: The Gini Coefficient (with Cross Sectional Analyses)". Lithosphere Community. Lithium Technologies, Inc. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- "BBC Online Briefing Spring 2012: The Participation Choice".
- Hargittai, E. and Walejko, G. (2008) 'The Participation Divide: Content creation and sharing in the digital age', in Information, Communication and Society, vol. 11(2), pp. 389–408.
- Hill, William C.; Hollan, James D.; Wroblewski, Dave; McCandless, Tim (1992). "Edit wear and read wear". Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (ACM): 3–9. doi:10.1145/142750.142751. ISBN 0-89791-513-5.
- "Community is Dead; Long Live Mega-Collaboration", Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for August 15, 1997
- Participation Inequality: Lurkers vs. Contributors in Internet Communities by Jakob Nielsen, October 9, 2006.
- What is the 1% rule? by Charles Arthur in The Guardian, July 20, 2006.
- The 1% Rule by Heather Green in BusinessWeek, May 10, 2006
- Institutions vs. Collaboration by Clay Shirky, July 2005, Video at 06:00 and 12:42