community-building online March 4, 2003 2:41 PM   Subscribe

An interesting article about building an online community and the choices the Author made . It also talks about other online communities and why he avoided certain features popular on other sites.
posted by gyc to MetaFilter-Related at 2:41 PM (8 comments total)

I really wasn't sure if I should've posted this on Metafilter instead of Metatalk, but I thought perhaps the article relates more to Metafilter itself so I decided to post it here.
posted by gyc at 2:42 PM on March 4, 2003

Ha, I pondered over that one for so long that someone else posted it.

I thought his solution for the 'why did you delete my thread' problem was pretty cool.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:17 PM on March 4, 2003

Very interesting and a lot of parallels with the way MetaFilter is run.
posted by dg at 4:29 PM on March 4, 2003

The author brings up a number of good points in that article, but I found that he jumped around pretty often between what works for 'his' community, as opposed to online communities in general, and that was confusing in some places. (e.g. "My forum is for programmers, but here's why a lot of features programmers put into community software don't work here..)

Also, using examples of obsolete technology (the newsreader rn i think was his example) which really isn't in widespread use anymore, or labeling all IRC communication/networks as 'bad' because ones he may use don't offer nick/channel protection (on the contrary, most IRC networks do have nick/channel proection these days, efnet being the glaring ommision) to further a few of his arguments takes away some of the credibility of the article.

Although it can be an important part of the equation, there are a lot bigger and more important factors in the success of an online community than what software you use to facilitate it's discussions.
posted by djc at 5:18 PM on March 4, 2003

Also, using examples of obsolete technology (the newsreader rn i think was his example) which really isn't in widespread use anymore ...

I think the point was how one technology-based choice still affects how the community works. Sort of like how (correct me if I'm wrong) new user signups here were originally disabled due to bandwidth issues. But that one technology issue has had huge ramifications to how the community works. Metafilter has avoided (or at least, slowed down) the slashdot syndrome of 400 posts per topic (which makes slashdot basically unreadable in my opinion). But it also encourages the rampant in-jokes and multi-thread flame wars.

Now that the technology problem is gone, new user signups are still rarely offered. So I suppose the positives were found to be much more important than the negatives.
posted by Gary at 6:21 PM on March 4, 2003

There are a few differences between Metafilter and what the author are talking about I think.. Namely, participation in Metafilter is controlled centrally via a limited user signup/day mechanism. To participate in Metafilter you have to go over that hurdle. The 'rn' application example though isn't so broad because participation in that community (usenet ) isn't dependant on any one application, rn in this case. You could just use a different usenet reader to participate(and I'm straying here..) in that particular community.

There's no 'seperate' application for accessing and contributing to this particular community, or any web-based community for that matter, which is why I was confused at the authors attempt to draw a parralell between two totally different systems of interaction.
posted by djc at 8:27 PM on March 4, 2003

he ignored how different audiences imply different communities and his "discovery" of the "primary axiom of online communities" came from nowhere - there was little or no argument for any causal link between the implementation details and the community styles (and as otehrs have said above, his descriptions are such simplified and out-of-date caricatures that they're hardly useful).

wouldn't have been nice if he'd found something in his analysis, some small difference, that meant he'd not made the perfect decision on all accounts? he's either infalibility incarnate or this is more "defence" than "analysis" (and i suspect he deeply believes the former).
posted by andrew cooke at 3:06 AM on March 5, 2003

how about moving the "post" button a little way away from "preview" and "spell check". i've just proved to myself that someone can be stupid enough to click the wrong button by accident.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:08 AM on March 5, 2003

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