A common misconception about interactivity is that everyone has to do it for it to be successful. But, in fact, if a small proportion of a community chooses to contribute, they can create great value for all. That is the essence of the internet media economy. That is how value is driven on Del.icio.us, Flickr, Yahoo Groups, YouTube, and so on. The Church of Customer blog has a good roundup I’m just catching up to with numbers from Wikipedia and elsewhere on the proportion of contributors to beneficiaries.
For instance, in June 2005 Wikipedia had a total of 68,682 total contributors. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is reported to have told a library group that month:
* 50% of all Wikipedia edits are done by 0.7% of users
* 1.8% of users have written more than 72% of all articles
If we also add evidence from Bradley Horowitz that roughly 1% of Yahoo’s user population starts a Yahoo Group, we seem to have The 1% Rule: Roughly 1% of your site visitors will create content within a democratized community. (Horowitz also says that some 10% of the total audience “synthesizes” the content, or interacts with it.)
In an email, Erik from ProductWiki says the 1% Rule applies to ProductWiki as well; he has about 350 total contributors, more than Wikipedia had in its first year of operation.