The Lurkers Support Me in Email

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The Lurkers Support Me in Email is an argument sometimes made in online debates or flamewars, in which one person claims that lurkers in the community support his or her position and have expressed that support in private email. While the wording was different, this argument was also used by fans before computers and the internet to state that support had been offered to them through private letters and/or phone calls.

As it is socially unacceptable in most fan communities to repost private emails, print letters, or phone calls without permission, this claim is unverifiable, and therefore generally irrelevant, and liable to subject the one who advances it to ridicule.

Jo Walton immortalized this argument in a filksong, "The Lurkers Support Me in E-mail".[1] An identically titled filksong by an anonymous or unknown author was posted to and[2]

The statement/argument is not new to email, however; letters sent and received via the postal service were also quoted as proof of support, and it was just as unacceptable to re-send or quote them in "public" spaces as well. A fan in 1987 told others in a letterzine: "Oh, and by the way, thank you for writing to THE and saying that you agreed with what I said re: Felicity's comments. Lots of people wrote to me privately to tell me that, too, but nobody else saw fit to say it in public. It's appreciated, believe me!" [3]

Ah, Temptation

Two fans in 1998 had this exchange:

>I've been there. Gotta love those invisible supporters, but ask yourself why they don't have the cojones to post publicly? Hmmmm? As I have drily remarked, it's nice to know I'm not alone, but I left > fictalk more than a year ago because all my invisible supporters wanted to remain invisible while I was out in public getting my catwhiskers singed.


... the temptation to post the letters from silent supporters was overwhelming, but I didn't, because it would be dishonorable and futile. And while I appreciated the many supportive comments from people, I often wondered rather bitterly why their support didn't extend to even ONE line of public defense. I hope I haven't offended anyone here by saying this; it's a natural human reaction not to like being publicly toasted while a crowd stands behind the curtain whispering "We're with you all the way". :/ [4]

Case Study: 1998

In April 1998, twenty-two X-Files fans at discussed the online re-posting of private emails without permission at More from Dave Moore, Archived version (some topics discussed were privacy, trust, supportive lurkers, the "Wild West" and anarchy of the internet, flames, and more), March 30, 1998.


  1. ^ How To Participate In An Internet Flame War, Archived version, August 1999, accessed 17 October 2008.
  2. ^ MegaMole (8 February 2002). "The Lurkers Support Me in E-mail" (archive link). The L-Space Web: Filks. Accessed 20 September 2018.
  3. ^ from The Hatstand Express #15
  4. ^ comments by bliss and Sarah Stegall at More from Dave Moore, Archived version, April 3, 1998