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Lurking definition

Lurking is the practice of reading and observing an online community without actively participating in any way. A “lurker“ is an anonymous user of an online community like a message board, social networking site, or forum. Users often hide for a while since they are still learning about the site and want to become more comfortable with it before contributing. The forum administrators may even recommend lurking as a technique for new members to learn the rules and norms of the forum before actively engaging. It's worth noting that read/write web layouts are still very new, and many users choose to “lurk“ for some time before posting.

Benefits of lurking:

  • Lurking helps gain perspective, information, and insight.
  • Lurkers enjoy learning new things.
  • Lurking on social media has personal and social rewards.
  • Lurkers follow up on ideas, report broken links, seek advice and comments, and connect via email, Skype, etc.
  • Lurkers can help prevent information overload, pay more attention as listeners or audiences, or justify and target online activity, which can enable communication.
  • Lurkers share information between online groups and social areas that might otherwise be isolated.

Drawbacks of lurking:

  • Lurking can skew social media reach estimations.
  • Lurking has raised privacy concerns, which is why platforms like Facebook have introduced features to help users hide some parts of their profiles from anybody but their friends.

See also: flaming, troll