I think the phenomenon of lurking is not at all an important phenomenon of the communication in Cyberspace. It is a phenomenon of every communication in groups. There is a compelling literature in small group research back to 1952 where similar distribution patterns like in mailing lists (Zenhausern in press) have been found in the participation in natural discussion groups (Stephan & Mishler, 1952; Tsai, 1977). This research has shown that people estimate there own position in the distribution of power inside a group and according to this estimation they choose their engagement of participation. The sadness in the case of CMC is only that there in no nonverbal communication signals from this lurkers that are available in the case of ftf settings. Each sent signal must be a concious communication act in the case of CMC and may be that causes the perceived phenomenon of lurking.

I'm not a lurker, I'm part of your audience.
Why do I lurk? Well, lack of time is one of the main reasons. I may have time to read (and in that way keep up with what is going on in certain field), but writing requires more thought and time.
Lurkers who de-lurk are not quite like new members entering the group. They have been in the group all along. I don't think the response they meet with from the "core/verbal group" can be quite the same as in f2f groups. Nor do I think their experience of "entering" the group is quite the same. It's not as though a clear boundary has been crossed -- they've been "there" all along. It's much more analagous to the cross over of unconscious elements into consciousness.
There are often times when I post or ask a question of someone, that I conciously consider the lurkers when constructing the post or asking the question. I figure if I don't understand there must be a few others who don't.
At this moment, and with limited consideration, my reaction is that the lurkers affect nothing in terms of the group process.
Bion would argue that the lurkers _are_ members of the group and, as a result, have a _significant_ impact on group process. In other words, because people _know_ that they are part of the group, it substantively changes the group dynamic. In fact, Bion has observed that, sometimes, the member of the group who is not phsyically 'present' (i.e., physically) can have more of an impact on the group's behavior that those individuals who are physically 'present'.
I keep feeling as though some of us -- the active ones -- are in an old-fashioned zoo cage, behind bars -- with all the silent 'lurkers' enjoying our antics and turning away when we aren't lively.
is a key purpose of lurkers, if we are mindful of their invisible presence, to keep the group large; psychologically so?
But joking aside (fat chance, he says under his breath), I think it's natural to think (feel?) "everyone" to be only those who speak up. The "monitors" really are on a "lower" level of group reality. (That's where *I* feel myself to be when I lurk --oops, monitor. On the sidelines, or looking up at the stage.) It's only the speakers who create the list by their _active_ presence. The audience is in a shadow-world, present but not-present. The *only* possible effect they can have on group interaction is a fantasy effect (not that I, of all people, would dare to denigrate fantasy effects).
In this room, you only 'exist' to the others when you post.
At last I'm able to make a posting! I've been lurking around for ages
I don't know, maybe it's just my perceptions, but I invision a group of lurkers, who may not particularly enjoy the directions the posters give to this list, but do nothing to try to turn it into something that is enjoyable to them, sitting back in front of their computers with a frustrated look on their faces saying "We're not people, we study people".
I'm sure he didn't mean to say what he said but it was well said and was said. Out of the mouth of lurkers...(babes, all of them - how you say?: Newbies?)
I am a LURKER. I don't even have time to read much of what is posted so I just download it and hope to read it one of these days.
Are you willing to be the patient: to de-lurk, de-center, de-throne, stop trying to be King?
NetDynam has just taught me something very practical about delurking my small list. Surveys are wonderful delurk devices. Did anybody besides me notice the increase and postings and the new names that appeared in response to both recent surveys?
My guess is that the notion of "lurking" as used by listowners and listactive is rather self-flattering--somehow all those people out there who are subscribed but not active--really, really are active/present somehow but don't for reasons of their own choose to remain "cloaked".
A final note, is that the obvious association is of "lurking" with voyeurism, solicitation, importuning...given the current drive by the repressed and the repressors to "clean up the net"--this association, however unconscious, only serves to reinforce and support those forces.
I do not store up energy at what I read and then suddenly post and let everybody on the list, "have it." (although Harriet might beg to differ) My experience is that some lurkers are hostile and do store up their venom
Actually, upon deeper reflection, I also find the term "poster" offensive. A poster is something to look at (lurk at?). I much prefer the term "composer". Yeah, we can be a list made up of composers and monitors. . . Wait a minute, I don't want to be monitored. Monitoring is something my doctor does, or something my boss does. Maybe that's it. I work, my boss monitors, - what a slacker. Maybe we should call ourselves workers and slackers. Of course, nobody will know what in the hell we're talking about anymore.
Well, back to lurking.
I have monitored the list from the beginning and have not participated because for the most part the the discussions have had little or nothing to do with my interests or experience.
A silent majority who sits and watches the exchanges of an over-bearing minority group who tend to resent the interference of any "outsiders".
After all this time of lurking and poking and following funny threads, I'm ready to say "Hey! I'm here and I want to play."

I have therefore made a leetle resolution. No more lurking, I'm gonna get a litle dirt on these here hands,and I intend to make at least one post per day, ignorance of my insights abroad, notwithstanding.
I believe the "core" group reflects the attitude of the lurkers and changes in the lurker pool will be reflected by the posters.
The weight of projection-potential has shifted from the active group to the lurkers. I've gotten to know the active members well enough, over time and testing, to know roughly well where my fantasy of them ends and their *reality* begins. But the lurkers? They're still, and will remain, fertile ground for every conceivable projection I have. There's no way to contain that, except by containing myself -- how I present myself, to what degree I choose to self-disclose. Steve suggested we "play to the audience". Yes, this is so -- but it's a relatively constrained and measured performance, isn't it?
I'm sure we each have different fantasies of who the lurkers are -- what they represent. For me (and this is just me) some of my anxieties about my own ambition (in the psych field) and concerns about pleasing authorities (in the psych field) are projected onto the blank screen represented by the lurkers. . . . So do I want to risk exposing some of my deep, dark (and possibly troublesome) conflicts and ambivalencies about authority figures? Or do I want to play it safe? I want to play it safe. Now I've gone and exposed something that bothers me even more than my conflict about authority figures! This nagging anxiety that I have to play it safe. I envy (yes, envy) people like Simon and Stephen and many others here (not in this wretched "field") who don't operate with the spectre of "networking possibilities" hanging over them.
I'm still intrigued at how some of us pay close attention to what we say in relation to how it will be read by non-posters. This thought rarely occurs to me. It's as if I were speaking to a room full of people by talking directly to those with whom I have eye contact
I wonder if there aren't subtle advantages to hanging on to "lurker" status
As one of the numerical contributors, I have to say that in the past few months, it seems as if the contributors are a liability to the lurkers. Somehow, we seem to get the blame if we don't happen to be discussing issues of interest to some lurkers or if we're not discsussing them in the way they wish we would

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