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Moodle Forums – Dominant non-lurkers

September 21, 2008

Here are some comments I made earlier this year about this subject in an on-line course about e-moderating in discussion forums:


I confess that I am still a little unclear about the ‘dominant poster’ concept discussed in seminar 1A but I had a few chuckles when I read Anderson’s (2004) article.  He states, “Diversity amongst the unity of an online community is the unsurprising theme” (p.185).  I found this funny, somehow, after our previous discussion.

In this study the participants indicated they felt control over whether to read someone elses posts or not and this seems to be based on individual preferences, tastes and judgements as to the value of the postings.

This freedom is summarized as, “Freedom to post and freedom not to read seem to provide support for a description of the students’ online community as democratic”  (p.187)The study suggests to me that a democratic environment is desirable in which to build a quality learning community.

Anderson’s (2004) article claims online communities are at least bi-dimensional, with a learning component separate from a support component.  I’m not so sure however that the facilitator is totally removed from the community building process. 


Hi xxxxxx

I think you make some very valid points here, and as an ‘active poster’ or maybe a ‘dominant non-lurker’ I would love to know what the less active participants feel too.

I am of several minds on the issues of dominance and providing space for other participants.  I like that the asychronous conference style provides the opportunity for everyone to participate or not participate, given their wont, as xxxxxx has pointed out.  I like to hear others’ viewpoints as this helps my understanding and learning.  And I appreciate the ‘dominant non-lurkers’ who put themselves out there; there have been some good debates.

I’ve been in classrooms where the facilitator shuts down the active participants and then no one participates.  I wonder what is the best approach.  Is it to be expected, and is it a reasonable goal, that everyone participates at the same rate?  Is the learning, and the pacing etc. the same for everyone? 

This quote from Anderson & Elloumi (2004) helps with my question above: 

“Sufficient levels of deep and meaningful learning can be developed, as long as one of the three forms of interaction (student-teacher; student-student; student-content) is at very high levels. The other two may be offered at minimal levels or even eliminated without degrading the educational experience. (Anderson, 2002)” (p,54). 


So maybe faciliator presence is not absolutely critical to achieving learning.  In this quote, the authors are indicating that any one of the three forms of interaction will produce the desired results.  So maybe, as I questioned above, there is more to this problem that just the facilitator, if the majority of the case study cohort is not interacting in one of the three ways.  



Anderson, T. & Elloumi, F. (Eds.). (2004). Theory and practice of online learning. Athabasca University online book.  retrieved February 28, 2008 from 




I wonder if domination is sometimes the solution.  If any one of our cohort puts in the effort to research and present in our discussion forums on a relevant matter, are we to castigate them or thank them for sharing?  Should we be grateful to those that put in the time and effort?  Or be upset at their ‘dominance’.   

Is it a problem that some learners ‘dominate’ the discussion?  Should we be thankful that someone is responding, at least?  What does dominate mean?  Whose problem is it?


Hi everyone.  Thanks for sharing your views and findings on the dominant poster issue.  As a very frequent poster, I was beginning to worry that I was doing something wrong.  Your thoughts seem to indicate that maybe this is not the case.  xxxx’s point on the differences between f2f synchronous discussions and our on-line asynchronous discussions is well taken. 

I don’t know what reasons there are that some have for not participating freely.  I think a good faciliator should explore this, where a perceived problem exists. In our program, participation carries a mark with it, suggesting an incentive to participate.

The debate raises more questions for me:

How involved should a facilitator be in the discussions?  I heard of criticisms in xxx that the facilitators were too involved.  In an adult-ed course, is it the facilitator’s job to prod people into action?  Is it possible to keep all the learners happy?  What would that look like?




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  1. pingadohtor permalink

    There are significant differences in the types of posters. Volume does not imply dominance.

    Watching two wise posters engage each other and welcome third parties in a constructive dialogue is great for lurkers & non-lurkers alike.

    Some posters will fill the critical role of clarifier — quite willing to admit their ignorance, and ask questions that others may be thinkin’, but unsure how to ask.

    Others will take on the role of mediator.

    A risky area is when the expert voice overwhelms dialogue to the exclusion of all others. A solid expert will actually be able to encourage other posters through their posting style. Responding to a question, but always, leaving the space open for freshdialogue. This is no different than any good conversationalist.

    Where I struggle in forums is the nay-sayer, who seems determined to provide significantly negative input, on multiple threads. These posters are frequently negative regarding the character of the individual posters. When they are left unchecked, they create a forum which feels unsafe to the casual or newbie poster. Who wants to put themselves out there, knowing they are at risk of a personal attack, or one that hits them on multiple fronts. Each forum develops their own way of dealing with such posters..there are great articles out there,and it is alearning which is essential for many communities.

  2. deadvocate permalink

    Hello. Thanks for your comments. You have expressed the subject very well, in my view. I couldn’t agree with you more.

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