Today the always witty and often challenging Acephalous makes an intriguing observation regarding the nature of blog participation:

As of 7:11 p.m. this evening—exactly 24 hours since my last post hit the ‘Net—I’ve heard from 37 people on the blog and another 211 via email. I must say: I never realized how great the gulf separating commenter from lurker was until today. A fairly substantial community of people who don’t even know they belong to a community encircles my evening blather.

Despite devoting today’s spare brain cycles to spinning Lurk Theory, I’m no closer to understanding its appeal—not because I think less of lurkers, but because I’m constitutionally incapable of not speaking up when I feel so inclined. I know some people are better at biting their tongues than others, but I lack the requisite imagination to understand why.

Bits of my brain scream GENDER POLITICS! but I really don’t think that’s the case. If my (outrageously unscientific) survey is any indication, my readership is overwhelmingly female. Why are most of my readers female but most of my commenters male?

I can’t speak to the gender of my visitors– because I never hear from most of you! –but I do wonder why there isn’t more participation. I get a fairly respectable amount of traffic– between 200 and 300 page views a day, with an average of 100 repeat visitors daily –but there are really only four or five people who ever comment. All of this makes me wonder whether my blog isn’t a source of amusement like watching a really bad film that’s so terrible you just can’t turn the channel, or like slowing down for a car accident. At any rate, what is it that promotes discussion on a blog and what is it that tends to promote lurkerdome? I’m not holding my breath expecting answers, though you’re always free to email me if you’re shy in public, you know.

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