Monday, March 1, 2010

Blogs, Forums, Mailing Lists, Clubs and any other human collection

This is from 1996 when I was on quite a few tech & history mailing lists. Kind of the ancestor of the blog. Not my own work.

 Every list seems to go through the same cycle:

 1.  Initial enthusiasm (people introduce themselves, and gush a lot about how wonderful it is to find kindred souls).

 2.  Evangelism (people moan about how few folks are posting to the list, and brainstorm recruitment strategies).

 3.  Growth (more and more people join, more and more lengthy threads develop, occasional off-topic threads pop up).

 4.  Community (lots of threads, some more relevant than others; lots of information and advice is exchanged; experts help other experts as well as less experienced colleagues; friendships develop; people tease each other; newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience; everyone -- newbie and expert alike -- feels comfortable asking questions, suggesting answers, and sharing opinions).

 5.  Discomfort with diversity (the number of messages increases dramatically; not every thread is fascinating to every reader; people start complaining about the signal-to-noise ratio; person 1 threatens to quit if *other* people don't limit discussion to person 1's pet topic; person 2 agrees with person 1; person 3 tells 1 & 2 to lighten up; more bandwidth is wasted complaining about off-topic threads than is used for the threads themselves; everyone gets annoyed).

 6a. Smug complacency and stagnation (the purists flame everyone who asks an 'old' question or responds with humor to a serious post; newbies are rebuffed; traffic drops to a doze-producing level of a few minor     issues; all interesting discussions happen by private email and are limited to a few participants; the purists spend lots of time self-righteously congratulating each other on keeping off-topic threads off the list).

 6b. Maturity (a few people quit in a huff; the rest of the participants stay near stage 4, with stage 5 popping up briefly every few weeks; many people wear out their second or third 'delete' key, but the list lives contentedly ever after).
I used to bail out at 5, unless it was something I needed to stick with for professional purposes. Sometimes I think the Blunty/Burger blogs are creeping towards 6a. Hope not. Nothing much about online communities  has changed though, even since the 80's and strange things called "Bulletin Boards". We're still people.


  1. Yup, that's the Burger all right. 6a with a bullet.

  2. The sad thing is it's a few individuals.

  3. I checked in with Morgana, all good for Sunday 28th March.
    Ms. Mayhem is free on that date, I believe.
    The Bloke likes bacon and may tag along.
    He won't say much unless it serves the point of embarrassing me.
    See you then.
    xo Q

  4. "He won't say much unless it serves the point of embarrassing me."

    Oh yeah - I do that to La Strega all the time. It's um, in our genes and we can't help it?

  5. Right. So you'll balance things by bringing Mrs. GB?

    Two years ago I went over to Perth to meet my Dad's family - I didn't even know he HAD family until a couple of years ago - anyway, I was getting to know my 76 yro cousin, who started reminiscing fondly about how his beloved wife was wearing a very pretty yellow frock the first time he set eyes on her.

    So Cousin asked my dear spouse 'What was Quokka wearing when you met her?'

    The Bloke's response 'Eh? What? I dunno. Not much, I suppose. She never did wear much back then.'

    So much for my Cloak of Middle Aged Respectability.

  6. 28th is fine for me. Where and what time?

  7. Never mind, realised the details are at my place.

    My 2 cents on the topic of the faff for all at CBG? Given that I'm just catching up, all I can say is I hope cooler heads prevail. If you're not interested don't read it, but accept that some topics lend themselves to an off-topic segue, sometimes just silliness, other times not silly just a different subject. But who doesn't need a little silliness once in a while anyway?

    Personally I like the content at CBG, there's enough variety to suit most people at different times of their lives, or even their days. Ditto for most of the personalities.

  8. Sunday was incredibly busy so I think a booking would be essential. Say 9 at L&L? And yes, I'll be bringing Mrs GB or La Strega as we call her. She'll be there to crush my ego, dash my hopes and generally keep me in line.

    How many do you reckon will be there?

  9. 2 x Quokka
    2 x Greybeard
    1 x Mayhem
    1 x Morgana

    Nobody else has put their hand up so I think its just us.
    I gave Nowhere Bob a yoohoo at his blog but haven't checked for a response.

    So I think its safe to book for six.
    GB, can I entrust you with that duty?

    Chaz is organizing Chaz Day over at his blog, so that might be a larger burger gathering. I think he said something about going to see Tasmanian Babes at BAT on the last weekend of April.