Lurker

Lurker

[lurk]
In Internet culture, a lurker is a person who reads discussions on a message board, newsgroup, chatroom, file sharing or other interactive system, but rarely participates.

History

The term dates back to the mid-1980s. Because BBSs were often accessed by a single phone line (frequently in someone's home), there was an expectation that all who used a bulletin board would contribute to its content by uploading files and posting comments. Lurkers were viewed negatively, and might be barred from access by the sysop, if they did not contribute anything but kept the phone line tied up for extended periods.

By contrast, many modern Internet communities now advise newbies to lurk for some time to get a feel for the specific culture and etiquette of the community, lest they make an inappropriate or redundant comment, ask a Frequently Asked Question, or incite a flame war. This leads to the tongue-in-cheek command to "lurk moar". The verb to "de-lurk" means to start contributing actively to a community having been a lurker previously.

There are also some who lurk on a forum habitually, and rarely, if ever, contribute. It is generally difficult to guess how many such lurkers are present, due to their silence. In flame-wars, a participant who is losing an argument will sometimes claim to receive email support from lurkers. This inspired Jo Walton to write a filk on the subject entitled "The Lurkers Support Me in Email".

With the advent of social networking sites such as Myspace, Facebook, and IMVU, lurking has been expanded to include visitors from one "homepage" to another. This lurking typically involves reading personal information about another user, looking at the user's pictures if available, and may also include leaving a message that simply states "I'm just here lurking."

See also

References

Leroy Kelly

Further reading

External links

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