Originally published June 23, 2015

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On July 1, 2015, I hosted a meeting of the Midwest KM Community at which the guest of honor was my friend Arthur Shelley from Australia. Arthur invented the Organizational Zoo Characters which “represent an intuitively recognizable behavioral style commonly encountered in organizations and social settings.”

I have observed patterns of use in communities, ESN (enterprise social network) groups, and social media tools. In honor of Arthur’s visit, here is a summary.

Community members

  1. Join-only: Don’t subscribe or pay any attention to what is going on
  2. Interested: Subscribe and pay attention, but don’t post or attend events
  3. Active: Post and attend at least some of the time
  4. Trolls: Try to start online arguments and get people riled up
  5. SPACE Cowboys: Regularly do the following
  • Subscribe: Read the threaded discussion board
  • Post: Start a new thread or reply in a threaded discussion boar
  • Attend: Participate in community events
  • Contribute: Submit content to the community newsletter, blog, wiki, or site
  • Engage: Ask a question, make a comment, or give a presentation

ESN group posters

  1. Sole Proprietors: The only one posting information in a group
  2. Spammers: Post over and over in every possible group
  3. Clueless: Post “Hey, everybody!” into a group with one member
  4. Mentioners: Reply to CC others, but add no context
  5. Bashful: Post only in private groups
  6. Trivial: Post only meaningless comments, e.g., Welcome! Congrats! Me, too!
  7. Risk Avoiders: Answer when there is no chance of getting the answer wrong, e.g., What country are you in?
  8. Town Criers: Share links to articles, books, blogs, etc.
  9. Know-it-Alls: Want to be the first to answer every question
  10. Routing Nodes: Cross-post to make sure that no one misses anything

Community leaders and ESN group administrators

  1. Create-only: Pay no attention to what is being posted; leave questions unanswered
  2. Launch and leave: Post only once, then nothing further
  3. Sole Proprietors: The only one posting
  4. Need my own: Don’t want to use existing groups; don’t want co-leaders
  5. SHAPE the Future: by regularly doing the following
  • Schedule: Line up speakers and set up events
  • Host: Initiate and run conference calls, webinars, and face-to-face meetings
  • Answer: Ensure that questions in the threaded discussion board receive replies, that discussions are relevant, and that behavior is appropriate
  • Post: Share information which is useful to the members by posting to the community site, threaded discussion board, blog, and/or newsletter
  • Expand: Attract new members, content contributions, and threaded discussion board posts

Facebook posters

  1. Wendy Whiners: Lament every one of life’s cruel twists
  2. Debbie Downers: Regularly remind us of all that is wrong in the world
  3. Peter Pontificators: Share every thought that enters their mind
  4. Joe Journalists: Would-be Pulitzer Prize winners who post links to news
  5. Don Diarists: Document every event in life
  6. Polly Polemicists: Regularly unleash political diatribes or religious pronouncements
  7. Fred Foodies: Photograph all dishes at all meals
  8. Val Videos: Share videos of cats, dogs, babies, America’s funniest, etc.
  9. Phil Photos: Post photos endlessly
  10. Betty Banals: Reply to all photos with predictable comments, e.g., Oh, so cute! How beautiful! Great! Enjoy! (but often with many more exclamation marks)
  11. Luke Likers: Compulsively like all posts
  12. Diane Deep Thoughts: Post photos of quotes and other bromides


  1. Narrators: Everything that happens, everywhere they go
  2. Ranters: Mad and won’t take it any more
  3. Bullies: Attack others while hiding behind the Internet
  4. Live Tweeters: Tweet chats, events, sports, TV shows, etc.
  5. Retweeters: Add nothing
  6. Stalkers: Follow celebrities
  7. Complainers: Tell customer service what’s wrong
  8. Correspondents: Share links to articles and blogs
  9. Comedians: Crack jokes and retweet humor channels
  10. Designers: Post photos, Vines, videos, GIFs, etc.


Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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