Today, March 19 is Love a Lurker Day. Yes! I love lurkers! Many thanks to Kiki L’Italien who way back in December came up with the idea for Love a Lurker Day.

Anyone who blogs loves their readers. We love you truly deeply and ardently, those of you we know about and those we only know about because of blog stats. I know you’re out there. I love it when you comment because you make me think or just make me happy. And even if you don’t comment, I’m still happy you visited. You chose to come here and read. That’s really cool, and I am very grateful.

According to Forrester Research’s latest data, 70% of online adults are Spectators, aka Lurkers. When you think about your members, most of them are lurkers or “mailbox members.” They don’t actively participate or volunteer in any way. In ASAE’s Decision to Join we learn that those who don’t volunteer are much less likely to recommend membership than those who are involved, even those involved in an ad-hoc (or episodic) way — an hour here, an hour there. Why? When they stop lurking and start participating they have an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way, use their skills or talents and belong to a community. That is the benefit of volunteering that we don’t always talk about, maybe because it’s too “woo woo.”

flickr: Theresa_Thompson

Most of us bloggers started out as lurkers. I was a lurker for a long long time. You could say that I wasn’t so much an Early Adopter as an Early Lurker. Way back in the 90’s I first discovered the web, courtesy of a Brazilian colleague at the World Bank who showed me this really cool thing called Mosaic. Then I discovered newsgroups, remember those? That’s where I got recipes and beer and restaurant recommendations for several trips to Europe. I was a lurker there.

In the early 2000’s I discovered Readerville, an online community for, yes, readers. Again, I was a lurker even though it was a really active community that provided me tons of good book recommendations. Newsgroups and Readerville — they were social media, way back then. Later I started reading blogs, again, as a lurker. I kept reading about this Twitter thing, thanks to my tweeps who attended ASAE’s San Diego meeting in 2008. Finally I created a Twitter profile and slowly came out of lurking mode.

I remember always thinking, what if what I say isn’t important, or it’s too shallow or even wrong. Then I realized many twitter users, none I knew personally of course, were offensive and obnoxious, so I couldn’t be any worse than that! I started participating in LinkedIn group discussions, then commenting on blogs, then tweeting more. One day last spring I took the biggest step and started this blog.

I write because I love the act of writing — finding just the right word or phrase, seeing the disheveled thoughts in my head somehow find clarity on my laptop screen. But I also write because I want to share, to help, to stimulate and to maybe spark a good thought in someone else’s head. I write because I want to be a positive giving part of the community that I found and love here online.

You’re part of that community too, whether you peep up or not. You might decide one day to stop lurking and write a comment or start tweeting, or you may keep on lurking. Either way, it’s okay. Your visits keep me going.

Thank you lurkers! Your presence always makes me smile. Cheers!