The '90-9-1' Principle aka the 1% Rule

Lurker, Participant, Creator....Where are You?

By Gary W. Mendel - founder, Yopine

You are somewhere between addicted to and completely lost without constant, reliable and fast access to the InterWebs.  You smack instinctively at your pockets just to feel the shape of your phone against your body when you are out.  You’re not odd or strange or manic or crazy.  You are part of modern culture in certain parts of the world and it’s probably ok.

What sort of Internet citizen you are is an entirely different blog post…but what sort of Internet participant you are is the subject of some extensive study, debate and strong sentiment.  If you aren’t a troll, then your citizenship is upheld and you pass as a nice person.  You are okey dokey.  However the kind of participant you are has much further reaching implications both for you personally as well as the machinations that comprise Web marketing, virality, sales, trends, popularity, company valuations and the very stability (or instability) or your respective economy.


Let me tell you about the 90-9-1 rule.  In a nutshell, 90% of us lurk over the Web…9% of us participate in the Web…and 1% of us create for the Web.  You are now looking inward asking 'which am I'?  Neither is better or worse than the others, however it is actually the 1%’ers (while being a mere 1%) who are creating nearly 100% of the good/bad/ugly that is the content consumed by everyone.  It is important to point out that the 1% does NOT apply to the Internet as a whole.  Think of it simply as the '1% rule for the websites (social media, commercial, blogs) and apps in which I participate'.


It's probably clear that its not this simple or this cut and dried. Personally, I am sometimes all three cases in varying degrees, however the more dominant position for me tends to be the 90%. When I am reading (90%) news articles I am certainly not a news reporter (1%) but I will add the occasional comment (9%).  When I am writing blog posts(like right now) for my company, even though the posts are somewhat rare, I am quasi 1%.  When I am creating content for Yopine (having a blast polling the world), I am pure 1% and I do that a lot….but, I am also at the same time interacting with others’ content making me the beloved 9%.  Ultimately however, I would categorize myself overall as a 90%’er because I read an inordinate amount of Web content relative to that which I create. Confused?


To categorize yourself as a 1% denotes a pretty high opinion of yourself, and that’s ok.  Someone who blogs and has north of 10,000 followers on any social media hub has a record and is probably justified in that assessment.  Someone who has +- 400 followers (me) shouldn’t fancy themselves as such, but rather take heart in their interesting, sometimes funny and oft positive 9% contribution.


I’m sorry to report that trolls are 9%’ers.  I’m sorry because they provide 0% to the betterment or quality of anything on the Web. But that’s the beauty of these principles…they often tamp down that which is ugly, pathetic, hate-filled and mean.  You become 1% effectively because you are interesting and productive.   That is not to say you can’t be controversial, opinionated or a complete jerk…but you have to have a point and generally be intelligent. Trolls are 9% simply because anyone can comment, retweet, modified-tweet and share.  I wish they could be ignored but rules are rules and trolls buy things thus making them the object of advertisers’ desire and affection much the same as you and me.


So where should most of us be?  Be wherever you want and own it.  If you like to hover, you like to learn.  That’s is just fine. If you like to participate, that is excellent especially if you are sincere, honest and mature.  If you are awesome and creative and thoughtful and articulate then the world wants you to create and be a 1%’er. Further, nobody says you can’t experiment…that is, to settle into the most comfortable role for you relative to this so-called rule.


Maybe it’s a ‘rule’ or maybe its a ‘rubric’ or maybe its just a thing. Who cares really.  The beauty of whatever you want to call it is that it results, by and large, in good things.  You can get anything from the Web, you can learn anything from the Web and you can create anything on the Web.  Sounds more like a fun guideline than any sort of rule.


Just don’t tell the advertisers….

Gary Mendel , co-founder of Yopine has been a programmer & a product guy.   Please reach out to him on  Twitter .

Gary Mendel, co-founder of Yopine has been a programmer & a product guy. Please reach out to him on Twitter.