Re: [Harp-L] re: lurkers

Warren's forward of an offlist reply to his post underscores a problem endemic to virtually any online community I've ever been a part of. Communities in general are relatively high context cultures. It's difficult to jump in and get treated well. It's very much akin to walking up to a conversation at a party and just jumping in when you don't know any of the people participating. The thing is there isn't really any other way to start. I've had the experience of lurking a list for years and then finally jumping in and not having it go well. It's part and parcel of the media. There are several virtual groups that I've belonged to for years in which I have never participated because it just seems too scary and perhaps not worth the effort but in the meantime I lurk because there's value in the content.

So yeah how to get from lurking to safe respectful participation? Be thick skinned and don't take it personally but as I type this I know it's easier said than done. Culturally harp-l is amongst the more polite internet groups I've ever participated in but it's far from perfect and one badly timed interaction could definitely stop a new poster in their tracks. I think this is why there's a life cycle for an internet group. When things are new and exciting and everyone is new it's easier to jump in. Harp-l is a very old mature group. That it's even still around is kind of amazing. fjm

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