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In their study on interactive mailing lists, Takahashi, Fujimoto, and Yamasaki demonstrated that “active lurkers,” or individuals who spread content from an online group to individuals external to the online group, help spread beneficial information to surrounding communities.Lurkers can also develop stores of valuable knowledge as they lurk which may be helpful later should they decide to contribute.By reading the posts, lurkers develop a better understanding about the topics being discussed and if this is a good fit for them.
In the case of open source project communities, the vast majority of questions have already been asked and answered in the community, making any repeated questions wasted work.For example, users in open source software communities can quickly discover the answers to common problems, making them more likely to contribute answers later.If they have already had a question answered, they are even more likely to de-lurk and reciprocate.These behaviors form the backbone of open source technical support.
Lurkers also help reduce the burden on communities.
In many communities lurkers are still seen as free-riders.