What do you think of when you hear the word "lurk?" Does it give you the willies as you imagine some dark stranger hiding out in your house? Or do you think of somebody who reads, but doesn't post, to a discussion forum? People who read discussion forums but don't bother to contribute to them are called "lurkers."
Merriam-Webster actually has both definitions.
Yesterday I was in a discussion where somebody used the term "lurker" to mean the latter, to be a member of a site but not actually contribute to it, at least right away. He said that she would be "lurking" on the site. It made a couple of the women in the discussion uncomfortable, and a mini-discussion about the word started. I came out and said that, having been on the Internet almost since its inception, the word "lurker" doesn't mean anything bad to me, unless the context of that use demands it, of course. If somebody tells me that an evil-looking guy is hanging around the school lurking in the corner, then obviously that's bad.
But just the word itself? Especially used in the context which it's been used for the Internet for years?
It just struck me as odd.
I was even told by one of the women that "if you were a woman, you'd understand."
That may be, but I don't think so. Who knows? Maybe I would.
So I'd like to throw this out there to all of you.
Is the word "lurking" a bad thing, in and of itself? With all context removed? (Even though I think the context was plain anyway)
Now, if you've never heard of the Internet "lurking" definition, then your opinion may be skewed. I'd still like to hear your viewpoint, though.
It's weird how we can be completely blind-sided sometimes, discovering the weird permutations of something that we've been doing or saying for years.
(edited to clarify that I'm mainly talking about the *word* "lurk," not the act of lurking in general. Sorry for the confusion!)