What level of participation should one expect in a community of practice?

Participation in communities of practice is rarely a person’s main activity or job, so expected levels of participation should reflect this reality. Mainly they should reflect the level of relevance of the domain to the main activities of members. This means that levels of participation will likely be quite different for different people. It is not unusual to have a smaller core group of members who identify very strongly with the community and contribute most of the activity—with concentric bands of participation from very active members to merely passive observers (or so-called lurkers on the web). This disparity is usually not a problem as long as it reflects personal interest in the domain and not some other distinction, such as headquarter versus field or language fluency. In a healthy community there is usually a flow of people moving across these levels of participation.


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