3rd BlogHer conference has community-building tips

tn_community_panel.jpg Amy Gahran says all-female panels like this are rare at tech/media conferences

Poynter Institute commentator Amy Gahran has been posting from Chicago where the BlogHer community of women-centric web publishers has been holding its third annual conference — which is also the group’s third anniversary.

Gahran’s summary of conference happenings included this nugget about how to encourage “lurkers,” who visit sites but do not contribue content, to join the conversation:

“In any online community, only a small fraction (1-9 percent of members) will ever post at all, even just a comment. The first time anyone new speaks up, acknowledge them, respond to them, and treat them well. Lurkers watch these interactions closely. They want to see how you treat new voices before they decide to start talking.”

On the topic of community building let me throw in a link to one of my prior posts, Community Building Tips From Slashdot, one of the premier user-generated sites for tech news. My posting is an extract from Slashdot editor Robin Miller’s Online Journalism Review article titled, “Five rules for building a successful online community.”

Given that Slashdot is presumably de facto if de a guy thing, it would be interesting to correlate Miller’s tips with Gahran’s observations to note the similarities and dissimilarities. And I wonder: do Slashdotters get together like the BlogHerinos? And if so, what do the conferees do to unwind, i.e., Slashdot, drum circle, BlogHer, pedicure?

Before any further attempts at levity irritate half the blogging planet, let me congratulate co-founders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort and Jory Des Jardins for coming so far, so fast in bringing BlogHer from idea to startup to community.

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Postscript: Apropos of Gahran’s observation about the lurker-to-contributor ratio, this briefing from the Center for Media Research passes on some recent findings about user-generated content. The numbers seem awfully high given the 1-9 percent rate that Gahran mentions and which I’ve seen elsewhere. I assume the discrepancy is one of definition. The Center’s estimate seems to include the raw number of those who upload photos and/or videos to photo-sharing and video-sharing sites. And I wonder if those are discrete individuals or whether one person posting to Flickr and YouTube gets counted twice.