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A Lurker is the internet equivalent of that creepy guy at the party who stands in the corner all night, listening to other people's conversations, and no one can remember who invited him. Except somewhat less creepy (as you don't see him).
Some lurkers will sign up for a forum but rarely post anything even though they read most of what does get posted. Other lurkers, on publicly viewable forums, won't even sign up.
Sometimes lurking is a prelude to becoming a regular poster on the forum. Either the lurker likes what they see and decides to become an active part of the community, or they were intending to join all along and merely lurked to get a handle on the unspoken rules and zeitgeist of the forum. Thus, a period of lurking can help one bypass the Noob stage of the forum poster life cycle. Lurking for this purpose is strongly encouraged as a survival mechanism on certain meme-heavy corners of the Internet, hence the phrase "Lurk moar".
However, if one admits to formerly being a lurker, the registered users might be creeped out that the information they posted on a publicly viewable forum is being viewed by the public.
Related to the Unknown Troper.
Some sites, such as 4chan, will actually suggest that you should "lurk moar" if you prove ignorant of the etiquette, such as it is.
- In the Destroyer, Dr. Smith is the original lurker. The assumption presented in the later books is that Mark Howard follows in these footsteps.
- The Legion of Net.Heroes has a lot of heroes and villains with lurking based powers such as Lurking Girl, her evil clone Lurking Lass, Lurker Lad, and Netlurker.