I've been thinking more about this model of the life cycle of online communities, especially the progression through each of the roles within the community visitor, novice, regular to leader etc. I'd made the point in my previous post, "Creating Elders In A Counter-Community Of Bloggers," that Jeff Jarvis was a leader in the Dell customer community.
Jarvis actively evangelized and shined a light on poor Dell customer experiences. The community responded, and it became the wider perception that Dell customer service could be better.
Dell responded to the wider customer community, dealing with customer service structural issues and also using social media to communicate and find instances of customer service issues. By a process of focusing on the leaders, regulars and novices who discussed their customer service issues within the Dell customer community. Dell was able to solve problems, and even turn leaders into elders, people who were likely to leave the community on that issue because they no longer saw the reason to actively participate, the reasons for participation has lessoned or disappeared.
Do I think Jeff Jarvis is an elder in the Dell customer community, no, I think Jeff is still active, it is just that the customer service issue is not such a prominent concern for the Dell customer community. Jeff is still a leader in the community, and people will return to him for his opinions regarding customer service at Dell. Currently he is positive.
Could he become active again yes, that all depends upon the Dell customer community demands and Dell’s strategies for handling those concerns.