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The audience is made up of all those who make use of the output of a community, without really being fully part of that community. This isn't a hard-and-fast definition, but it will suffice for now.

Audiences are largely passive and quiet, to the point of being invisible. They are also largely faceless, because they can ReadAnonymously. This is a particular challenge for anywhere that prizes ContentOverCommunity - the audience is the customer, and the entire reason for existence, yet it is difficult to know what it wants.

Often a site uses some form of EasySubmission, such as a "RecentVisitors"-style guestbook, or a "feedback" email address to try to eke out a greater level of feedback. This is an important motivational tool - without feedback, people may feel that they are wasting their time. Even simple HitCounts are useful in this regard.

By contrast to TheCollective, which is built with bi-directional, many-to-many communication, TheAudience is built with mono-directional, one-to-many communication. It forms a hub and spoke network, with the community at the center and the audience round the edges. Because of this, audiences scale without limits, whereas CommunityMayNotScale. Some SocialSoftware benefit from this, such as WebLogs, and thus if you aim to reach a large audience, use more mono-directional architecture.

[ed: consider seperating discussion of all who use a community's output, which presumably includes the community itself (cf CommunityAsAudience?), from only the silent and quiet people (cf SilentPublic)]

Active audiences

What's radically new about TheAudience on the digital network is that people can respond--they can reply back to you, modify your text in collaboration, or steal your ideas and build on it; this either invades your sense of identity or reinforces the experience of WebExhibitionism inherent in radically publicizing your life. In fact, it makes your LifeInText a negotiation with your readers, TheAudience; this is the opposite expectation of many.

Contrast the SilentPublic of traditional media.


I wonder what typical TeethToTailRatios are, that is, how many silent readers there are per active participant. This is oft asked in various media, I realize. In the mid 1990s I got about one email for every 500 visitors to my web site; today I get about one for every 5,000. Has someone winnowed the statistics for the more prominent wikis to ascertain the size of the audience compared to the size of the contributor base? --anon

See Wiki:WikiReaderToWriterRatio for a simple analysis of reader/writer ratios on WardsWiki.

Audience as part of community

Is TheAudience part of the community? --anon

Yes, even as SilentPublic the audience affects the online community. The contributors know that the audience is there and write towards the interests of the audience. During conflicts the more experienced people don't primarily target the opponent but write with the audience - to win the audience - in mind. -- HelmutLeitner

Audience as statistic data

The audience is known to the host as access data, usually available as log files from the webserver or the wiki software.

The data can be analyzed for its content: robots, admins, members, visitors... this may give valuable insights into the state of the community.

The data is sometimes published: it may show an increase of the access rates (otherwise it wouldn't be published). This may be interpreted as increasing interest of readers. This may increase the trust of the users into the future of the online community.

All this may be of little value if the access rates are actually used to measure the success of an online community because there are too many ways to manipulate the access rates.

Audience as drag

"Those who forge ahead turn their backs on the followers. This is all that the followers deserve." -- Georges Bracque (as qtd. in Cogniat, 1976)

Cited in Raymond Cogniat, Georges Braque, trans. Mark Paris (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1976), p. 60. Originally in the Cahier de Georges Braque: 1917-1947 (Paris: Maeght, 1948), p. 16: "Ceux qui vont de l'avant tournent le dos aux suiveurs. C'est tout ce que les suiveurs méritent."

While you may feel validated and warmed by an audience, they can also hold you back by preventing you from changing gears and doing something new. After all, they only loved you while you were young, but how long can you stay young? Actors get typecast, and communities become stale. cf. Wiki:MissingWikiBeforeXp.

I write prolificly on my memopad these days. It lives only in my back pocket, and only I can read it. It is pervasive in the way computers are not. I can and have written reams, but I can barely write in front of the screen. I don't type in my notes. I just don't want to defend even wisps of an idea. The paradox of the audience: it first loves you and then hates you... never become addicted. Write always first for yourself, as TheIndividual. But never fall in love with yourself either--you too will find yourself hating you. -- SunirShah


Why are you limiting the best you can high ranks in google for this community ? To limit the number of participants to keep theCollective low for better management, or to limit the audience ?

I was just thinking about this, especially regarding the history of MeatballWiki being saught by kiddie porn enthusiasts, like the "popular" NaturistClub page. Pedophiles notwithstanding, I'm not entirely convinced that people coming in from Google are beneficial to the community, as they seem to roll in and then leave, unless they want to vandalize something. I'm not ready to advocate blocking the Googlebot as the server is still doing ok, but it would certainly be an easy thing to kill if server load became an issue. But, playing the page rank game is the wrong thing to do. ContentOverForm. Popularity without substance is corrosive. -- SunirShah

IIRC, I first saw meatball via google - though I only came back when I followed explicit links from wikipedia somewhere. LimitGrowth has something about blocking google et al. --MartinHarper

The difference between a hero and a fool is the audience -- AnonymousContributor?



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