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1% rule in Internet culture

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1percentrule.svg(Graphic showing the proportion of lurkers, contributors and creators.)

In cyberspace, the assumption of 1%, also called rule or law of 1%, or 90-9-1 principle, reflects the fact that participation and earnings are highly uneven in an online community.

Thus, on the Internet, less than 1% of the members contributes proactive, 9% participates occasionally and 90% of observers never contribute.

Operating_system_usage_share.svg(Distribution of computers following the 1% rule)

In 2007, Akil N. Awan, the Royal Holloway (University of London), shows that 87% of discussion forum users have never contributed, 13% have posted at least once, 5% have posted more than 50 times, and only 1% has posted 500 times or more.

In 2006, Ben McConnell counted 1-2% of contributors from all site visitors to Wikipedia: In June 2005, Jimmy Wales observed that 50% of all contributions to Wikipedia were made by 0.7% and 1.8 contributors % of contributors had written more than 72% of all articles.

In November 2007, there were less than one percent of contributors elected to the french Wikipedia: 166 administrators on 23 000 registered users.

In publishing, 90% of the revenues of media companies would be generated by 10% of the titles. And 1% of the highest paid authors by publishers receive a percentage two to three times higher than that of others (which is often on the order of 8%).

Gini coefficient

  • Gini coefficient shows that on average 10% of the population owns 90% of the wealth or earns 90% of its revenues. To clarify, 0,5% of the world’s population now owns 35% of the portfolio and about 8% of them owns 80%. In short, inequality of income and wealth distribution are close to the 1-9-90 rule.
  • The Gini coefficient is higher for closed professional communities (0,71 for B2B) than for B2C communities with only 0,67.


The hypothesis of 90-9-1 results in option to integrate the emerging minority in power, or to degenerate society.

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