Do you believe in the 90-9-1 rule?

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

Do you believe in the 90-9-1 rule? Do you think it is a hard and fast rule, or do you believe that it is just a rule of thumb?

What do 10+ years of data across 200+ communities say about the 90-9-1 rule?

My answer as part of the Online Community Manager group discussion kind of sums up where I’ve got to, hence why I thought it worth reproducing here:

Hi Michael,

It’s getting a little late on Friday evening here in the UK but I wanted to share my experience in case it’s of use to you.

I tried to use the 90-9-1 rule as a heuristic to help guide community development here: – and used that rule of thumb in designing a drupal-based community metric package to help monitor the balanced between readers and contributors in various facets of measurable development.

In addition I believe it’s worth considering the value of designing feedback loops, so that your top contributors for example are rewarded for their efforts. I did a slideshare sketching out that concept here: – in fact that got me thinking about the broader topic of ‘viral loops’ but that’s another story with I was sharing with some great people at the Social Media World Forum in London this week.

Otherwise thinking about the 90-9-1 rule also has underlined to me recently the value of measuring offline use of online communities, especially to the majority of ‘readers’. I’ve blogged on that aspect here:

Hope that’s of use.


Stuart G. Hall

PS: I’m off on a skiing today but hopefully I’ll get chance to read Dr Wu’s in-depth piece on the subject when I get back from Rauris in Austria!

Pic from Ava Maria Seven’s photostream.

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