Recognising Reputation Vampires

Due to their open, democratic and welcoming nature, volunteer communities can suffer from the attentions of reputation vampires. What are they and how can you spot them?

A reputation vampire is a person seeking to advance their career by merely associating themselves with the work of others. They can look very active, but when you actually analyse their concrete contribution you discover it's mostly the work of others. While they may sound harmless, they can severely impact communities over time as they block both processes and work, especially when they reach decision-making roles.

Signs you may have found one:

If you are worried you may be one, you almost certainly aren't.


  1. Can they see their reflection? Do reputation vampires know they are vampires?
  2. What is the equivalent of a crucifix/garlic/stake?
  3. Does their bite transmit?

“A vampire may play with his food, but he never sets it free.” — Pamela Palmer

*(Term originally coined in 2019.

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