This Thing Might Have Legs

So there hasn’t been any posts of late, simply because I’ve been super busy. There’s so much to write, but between work, writing for Australian Gamer, and seeing people I’ve not had the time. What I have been doing is reading, and hopefully it’s paying off.

See, that Internet Communities article could be great. But I think it could also be more. Currently there aren’t really any facts in it. A good story needs the human, personal touch, but it also needs facts for the story to relate to. I am fascinated by communities on the internet, and have been delving into a bit of the literature surrounding the topic. It all started when I thought that a history of myg0t would be quite interesting (for me at least, but no doubt others as well). But why stop there? Sure, make a magazine/paper piece about myg0t, and one about the three forum shift, but why not a history of other communities? 4chan, Reddit, WELL, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Dramatica, and others I personally haven’t visited. Make something that explores the current climate of internet communities. In 10 years things will have changed, but it’s that capturing of history that’s important.

 

One of the books I’ve been reading is a series of essays about internet communities. One in particular has 10 principles of essentially making a good internet community, and I can see a lot of relations to my own experiences. Here’s a quick summary of the 10:

1) The community must be geared towards a pre-determined, identifiable audience.

2) The community website must be seeded with audience-relevant, engaging content that models the type of content expected of its participants.

3) Draw boundaries around the community and establish barriers to entry.

4)Enable participants to coordinate, cooperate, and collaborate with one another buy setting up features that promote emotion-charged interaction and foster the acquisition of social capital.

5) Provide and encourage an environment of hospitality, caring, honesty, empathy, and growth for exchanges between two people and between larger groups of people.

6) Anticipate the need for hte community to developer a history of its existence and textual interactions.

7) Find ways to make the community contributors feel unique and that their contributions make a difference by fostering group ownership and a shared emotional connection.

8) Establish policies and rules of conduct using language and tone that indicates that the rules have been written to engender self-governance and a sense of personal ownership by the community members themselves.

9) Cultivate a sense of accountability, continuity, and flow.

10) Evaluations of community sociability and usability must be conducted during its development, soon after launch, and at specified times throughout the community’s evolution in order to assess the members’ needs and if they are being fulfilled, and to predict the community’s chances at success.

 

Some interesting things to think about, and a lot of parallels I can draw on. My experience with forums reflects a lot of this, particularly the scenario where members left one forum, started another, and when that failed finally coalesced into what is, I think, a utopian forum few others can ever hope for. Through trial and error the third forum was the lucky one. There is a wealth of thoughts to draw from these readings, and I have already purchased other books on the topic, including Deeper by John Seabrook, The Virtual Community by Howard Rheingold, and Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block. It feels more and more like a university essay. But I’ll relish it. Hopefully drawing on a number of resources, and then doing my own dirty research by delving into the web (including interviews. I must contact myg0t members; theirs is a truly gossip-filled story), a book may come out of it. In the mean time, I’ll continue the novella based on my experiences, and work out how to make the topic into a nice newspaper article.

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