4L and 4C Participation Models in Virtual Communities

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4L Model

Described at http://www.techlearning.com/blog/2007/08/the_art_of_building_virtual_co.php :

"One model that holds merit an be found on the Learning Circuits Blog.

It is developed around the roles and interactions members of a community have as participants in that community. It is titled 4L Model (Linking, Lurking, Learning, Leading) and was inspired by comments made by John Seeley Brown in an interview with Marcia Connors for LineZine.

According to David Lee's model the roles basically fall into four blurry types. What role a participant plays in the community is both determined and defined by the participant so they are not strictly defined.

Linking These are visitors who find a community by one means or another. They may have have bookmarked the site or added it to their RSS reader. They are in a “testing” mode to determine if this community if of interest to them and worth giving more of the time and attention.

Lurking Often the largest segment of a community, these individuals pay attention to the activity of the group and occasionally participate in various activities. Wenger calls this group Legitimate Peripheral Participants (LPP). They may be interested in greater involvement, but either don’t feel worthy or don’t know how. For others the content may only be peripheral to their work.

Learning These are regular visitors who contribute to the community regularly. They are considered “members” of the community. Occasionally , they may take on a project or event leadership role as either an “audition” for a more core role or as a way to lead despite overall time unavailability.

Leading At the core of a community are the Leaders of that community. Leadership is a matter of commitment and willingness to contribute on a consistent basis. Leaders may or may not be designated via title. Roles, other than community coordinator, may evolve as needed. Wenger says it is the responsibility of leadership to “build a fire” of activity that is strong enough to draw people to the community and encourage greater participation.


4C Model

"Around the world, another blogger friend and colleague Derek Wenmoth created a similar framework to Lee's role-based model to discuss the ways in which people participate in online communities that develop around blogs. His diagram attempts to illustrate how participants in the online environment move through phases as they gain understanding and confidence.


His phases are as follows:

consumer - The first phase is where participants (often referred to as lurkers) simply read and explore the posts of others. Far from being passive as the word lurker suggests, consumers can be very active participants in an online community - just not yet visible to others.

commentor - as this label suggests, these people make comments on others posts (either on blogs, or in discussion forums), often seeking clarification, agreeing with a statement, or offering a suggestion or link to something similar.

contributor - as this label suggests, contributors are those who have started their own blogs or who initiate new threads on discussion forums. They are confident about putting forth their own ideas etc.

commentator - a commentator is someone who frequently takes a 'meta' view of what is going on, providing a level of leadership within the community. Their contributions will often draw attention to the 'bigger picture', making links with other work - analysing and synthesising the contributions of others." (http://www.techlearning.com/blog/2007/08/the_art_of_building_virtual_co.php)