Who believes in the 90-9-1 rule?

A second question on LinkedIn from Dr Michael Wu, Principal Scientist at Lithium Technologies:

Is there something more accurate and precise than the 90-9-1 rule out there? IMHO, Lorenz Curve and Gini Coefficient. Do you know anything else? The Economics of 90-9-1

My answer as part of yesterday’s Online Community Manager group discussion kind of sums up where I’ve got to after reading Dr Wu’s blog previous post and this latest one:

I like the approach you have using economics-based models. I’ve come at it from a more particpant-observer type sociological point of view, so what I’d like to see is for your analysis to return a new ‘rule of thumb’ based on your in-depth data analysis.

The 90-9-1 rule is useful to community managers because it helps provides a starting point for understanding, as Arantza says above. For example it would be useful to know from a practical point of view whether for more open communities (as opposed to niche market research or project based communities) the 90-9-1 is a useful tool for helping launch a new community.

It’s partly about creating a social dashboard that can explain to a member of senior management why a certain kind of community activity may help or hinder greater participation.

I did this kind of work previously in the National Health Service, creating simple reports on the success of a national public health initiative, which worked well for senior managers (government ministers in that case).

So I come back to the challenge, the age old relationship between lab & fieldwork if you like, what would be the new rule of thumb/thumbs?

I’ve chosen to highlight multiple feedback loops as a useful tool, to help drive top contributors for example (taken from the HP Labs research), but I take your point that for commercial ROI purposes more precision is required. To put it another way in such a dynamic social context how does precision allow you to create heuristics for day to day community management?