Membership Life Cycle For Online Communities
Amy Jo Kim's membership lifecycle states that members of online communities begin their life in a community as visitors, or lurkers. After breaking through a barrier, people become novices and participate in community life. After contributing for a sustained period of time they become regulars. If they break through another barrier they become leaders, and once they have contributed to the community for some time they become elders. This life cycle can be applied to many virtual communities, most obviously to bulletin board systems, but also to blogs and wiki-based communities like Wikipedia.
A similar model can be found in the works of Lave and Wenger, who illustrate a cycle of how users become incorporated into virtual communities using the principles of legitimate peripheral participation. They suggest five types of trajectories amongst a learning community:
- Peripheral (i.e. Lurker) – An outside, unstructured participation
- Inbound (i.e. Novice) – Newcomer is invested in the community and heading towards full participation
- Insider (i.e. Regular) – Full committed community participant
- Boundary (i.e. Leader) – A leader, sustains membership participation and brokers interactions
- Outbound (i.e. Elder) – Process of leaving the community due to new relationships, new positions, new outlooks
The following shows the correlation between the learning trajectories and Web 2.0 community participation.
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