Lurkers are people who visit online communities, such as forums, social media, or chat rooms, but do not actively engage in discussions or contribute content. They are passive members who read or watch content, but do not comment, like, or share anything. Lurkers may be hesitant to engage because they feel intimidated by the community's established culture or rules, lack confidence in their ability to express themselves, or fear being judged by other members. They may also prefer to consume content silently, without drawing attention to themselves or getting involved in debates or conflicts.
Lurkers are a common phenomenon in online communities, and their presence can significantly affect the community's dynamics. On one hand, lurkers can increase the community's reach and visibility by sharing its content with others or by providing valuable feedback to active members. On the other hand, lurkers can also contribute to the community's stagnation or decline by not providing enough feedback, diversity of opinions, or new ideas. Moreover, lurkers may also be subject to surveillance, profiling, or data mining by the community's owners or advertisers, without their consent or knowledge.
In online communities, lurkers are often seen as a challenge for community managers and active members who strive to create engaging, supportive, and diverse spaces. Community managers may try to encourage lurkers to participate by creating more welcoming and inclusive environments, providing clear guidelines and incentives for engagement, or by offering personalized support or mentoring. Active members may also try to reach out to lurkers by tagging them in relevant posts, asking for their opinions, or by acknowledging their contributions in public. However, it is important to respect lurkers' autonomy and boundaries, and not to pressure them into participating if they do not feel comfortable or willing to do so.