from Dr. Jakob Nielsen UseIt.com:

Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute

Summary:
In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.

It depends, it depends, it depends… (on size and purpose mainly). Oh and he says don’t use graphics on your site, which is an old rule for the same old reason – people with slow bandwidth. I don’t know about that one – my members usually aren’t on dial-up…

EDIT: cos the long tail of blog content is catching up with me and I need to clarify stuff 2 years on…

community-participation-pyramid

We used to be passive – eyeballs consuming daily dinners served up to us by others. It took a few years and we slowly started creating – blogs are intensive, as are YouTube vids, podcasts and Flickr fotos.  Depth of content sites started and abandoned. Today we use more distribution (facebook) and communication (Twitter, IM) tools – less intensive, more collaborative.  By the way, TripAdvisor (15 million members) has a 30% – YES THIRTY PER CENT – creator ratio. 1 in 3 people return from a trip armed with fotos, videos and reviews to share back to the community. Dr Jakob Nielsen is sometimes a weather vane for an old way of thinking on other issues too. Always question ‘experts’.  And strategists. Heh.