90-9-1 Rule

While I no longer actively participate on any online fora, at one time I was not only an active poster at the Trumpet Herald Reinhardt Forum, but also served in various moderating and administrating capacities at the Online Trombone Journal Forum, and briefly for the spin-off, the Trombone Forum.  For a variety of reasons I haven’t made any posts at these sites in quite some time, but I frequently look through the discussions and am always curious about what people are talking about there.

Recently I came across a topic that intrigued me, entitled Up stream.  The initial post was a question.

Can someone explain to me what blowing upstream is. I am told it is the way to break past the double c range. I was about to learn more about it when I was young but went on the road leaving my teacher behind. At that time we did not have forums to learn from.

One of the Trumpet Herald moderators moved the topic over the Reinhardt section, which seemed reasonable since that is a topic that would interest the players and teachers over there.  I was a little confused and surprised at the responses, though.  Since the original poster has a low post count (5 posts), it was assumed that the question wasn’t honest for some reason.  The regular posters there declined to answer his question.

That got me to thinking more about participation in online fora.  I have always suspected that the number of “lurkers” online greatly outweigh those who actively participate.  I also know from running some simple stats on members of the Trombone Forum’s posting habits that the vast majority of posts come from a very small minority of people.  Most forum members typically ask a question or two, maybe post for a little bit, and gradually drift away.

Poking around, I discovered a number of web sites that talk about the 90-9-1 rule.  The theory is that discussions on online bulletin boards, mailing lists, and the sort typically have 90% of the users simply reading and never contributing.  Around 9% will contribute once in a while, but not to any great extent.  The bulk of the posts come from only around 1% of the users.  As that article explains, this can give a very skewed view of the online community of a particular forum.

In the case of the forum topic that got me thinking about this again, it’s a little disappointing.  For one thing, as a lurker there I was curious to read the responses.  Not because I couldn’t answer the question myself, but because I wanted to see how other people would describe it.   It seems that an opportunity to discuss Reinhardt’s pedagogy to a number of people who may not actually post their own questions has been missed.

Perhaps I should come out of my forum retirement and post a reply for the lurkers there who may be wondering what an upstream embouchure is, or may have a misconception about it.  What do you think?  If you think I should (or shouldn’t) join in the discussion there, leave your comment here and I’ll use that to help me decide.

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