Adam Powell on the state of online community

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Adam Powell
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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby Adam Powell » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:36 pm

I liked this bit of typically Rheingoldian insight from the Atlantic piece:

"In 1985, it cost a quarter of a million dollars for the hardware (A Vax 11/750, with less memory than today's smartphones), and required a closet full of telephone lines and modems. Today, the software that structures WELL discussions resides in the cloud and expenses for running the community infrastructure include a bookkeeper, a system administrator, and a support person."

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby Adam Powell » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:48 pm

Here's another classic Howard Rheingold text:

The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online
http://www.rheingold.com/texts/artonlinehost.html

GOOD ONLINE DISCUSSIONS:
Enable people to make contact with other people.

Enable people to entertain themselves rather than being just the passive consumers of canned entertainment.

Enable people to create a gift economy for knowledge-sharing.

Create conditions for ongoing collaboration that return individual effort with a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Provide a way for people to get to know each other beyond their usual masks.

Make newcomers feel welcomed, contributors valued, recreational hasslers ignored.

---

I'm not saying his philosophy is right, but Rheingold certainly has the authority to lay out his ideas about how all this stuff should work.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby jjoyce » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:42 pm

Adam Powell wrote:Make newcomers feel welcomed, contributors valued, recreational hasslers ignored.


We could do better with the first, although it's hard to keep up. I think the second one is done pretty well, primarily through the reward of seeing one's contribution show up in print (maybe it's not as much of a reward as I think it is). And the third is up to everyone, individually.

I don't think we do that here. Improvement needed.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby rabble » Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:01 pm

jjoyce wrote:And the third is up to everyone, individually.

I don't think we do that here. Improvement needed.

If by "improvement needed" you mean "we really ought to try that sometime" then yes I agree with you.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby Adam Powell » Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:18 pm

Agreed. Good marks for the first two, some improvement is needed ignoring problem users.

It's hard to do, because the kind of problem user which plagues this forum will go to any lengths to get a response.

It's very tempting to point out that user X is acting in a hostile and obnoxious manner, but user X is acting like a jerk specifically to get the attention that acting out is rewarded with.

We used to say DNFTEC, Do Not Feed The Energy Creature, which is kind of corny, but summons up the correct profile of this animal: stop feeding it and it shrivels up or moves on.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby snoqueen » Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:44 pm

The kind we get now don't move on. They've adopted the "drown-em-out" technique from whoever does their thinking for them. Getting zero response has zero effect -- they just keep posting.

Speaking as one who's participated in online forums a long long time (though not clear back to the original Well) I can agree the advice of the old-timers was appropriate for the old days. I wish I knew what they'd say and do now, and what works on other sites today.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby Mad Howler » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:31 pm

Adam Powell wrote:I was part of the WELL almost from the very beginning. The Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link was founded in the spring of 1985 - ... I joined in August of that first year.

----

Once called "the world's most influential online community" ... the WELL counted users like the sci-fi authors Neal Stephenson and Cory Doctorow; visionaries like the musician Brian Eno and the virtual community expert Howard Rheingold; EFF founders John Perry Barlow, John Gilmore, and Mitch Kapor; and even rock stars like Billy Idol and David Crosby. The quality of its users' posts.. -- inspired countless Internet entrepreneurs and thinkers.


1. I perceive that social media is of our collective creation, unfortunately that is starting to smell like McNet.
2. Brian Eno spent time in the WELL? That must have been cool, although as much as I would of liked to hear about U2s early days we do get to hear some twists of frames from the bdog.
3. I give Snowqueen first place for being welcoming of newcomers.
4. I've been thinking quite a bit lately about William Gibson's collective works going back to Mona Lisa Overdrive. Does this notion stir anything in other forons?

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby rabble » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:42 pm

snoqueen wrote:The kind we get now don't move on. They've adopted the "drown-em-out" technique from whoever does their thinking for them. Getting zero response has zero effect -- they just keep posting.

Speaking as one who's participated in online forums a long long time (though not clear back to the original Well) I can agree the advice of the old-timers was appropriate for the old days. I wish I knew what they'd say and do now, and what works on other sites today.

Um.

You have a point. Jj complains because he bans them and they just keep coming back. We complain because they don't really mind getting ignored by most, or even everybody for a while. They know if they just keep pluggin away, somebody's gonna get pissed off.

Which is a break from the trolls of the past, when they were actually trolling through oceans of usenet.

Now they're setting up their lawn chairs and coolers and settling in to fish the hell out of this here pond.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby jjoyce » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:07 pm

Look at it this way: If somebody is at your backyard cookout and you disagree with him about something he's saying, you can respectfully argue because neither party wants to offend the other. If you're mutually respectful, the conversation can move along nicely even with disagreement. You can even move into deeper territory and discover why others feel differently than you do, even if nobody ends up changing their minds.

With close friends, the language and tone can even get abusive because we know the boundaries and trust each other.

Nobody shows up at something like that hoping to make everybody there look like an idiot, which is specifically the goal of some on this board. At most parties I go to, nobody gets into a fight or is shown the door, but occasionally somebody is avoided because he's impolite or socially idiotic. In general, however, I think the default setting (and maybe this is a generalization of the Midwest) is that everybody means well, wants to be friendly and is accepted into the community regardless of political beliefs.

Here on Forum we have a similar assumption, that people who log on want to be accepted by the group, understand the tone of the board and will avoid being a-holes. The expectation is if somebody is full of shit about something, confrontation will result in an argument that will move toward a peaceful close, even though that rarely happens. The assumption is that both parties ultimately care about being part of the community.

This isn't a backyard cookout and it's been made clear over the years that people here can handle a lot more impoliteness, but when somebody makes it so abundantly clear that he's interested primarily in making everybody else look bad instead of actually participating in an exchange of ideas and information, then ignoring him is usually the best way to go.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby rabble » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:06 pm

jjoyce wrote:when somebody makes it so abundantly clear that he's interested primarily in making everybody else look bad instead of actually participating in an exchange of ideas and information, then ignoring him is usually the best way to go.

I disagree about purpose. His purpose is to piss somebody off. Anybody. No matter how long it takes.

Let it go on long enough and suddenly, all you've got is stuff to ignore. Signal to noise ratio and all that.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby O.J. » Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:34 pm

Yup, that's how he (t)rolls.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby fennel » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:10 pm

jjoyce wrote:This isn't a backyard cookout and it's been made clear over the years that people here can handle a lot more impoliteness, but when somebody makes it so abundantly clear that he's interested primarily in making everybody else look bad instead of actually participating in an exchange of ideas and information, then ignoring him is usually the best way to go.
Yes, but if that's so, I think it would be good if the ignore were bi-directional –– to make the equation complete.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby snoqueen » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:28 pm

That's a great idea. Does the program have an option for "block this member from seeing my postings" as part of the ignore function? It should.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby rabble » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:45 pm

It would be a hindrance, yeah. The motivation still trumps the hindrances, but anything that makes it tougher for 'em would help.

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Re: Adam Powell on the state of online community

Postby pjbogart » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:47 pm

For all of the complaining about trollery, forons certainly have no hesitation to respond to them. Even after Jason locked two of Cornbread/Meade's ridiculous threads, forons jumped right in and pushed his next thread to five pages and counting.

Meade's shit doesn't float by nature... we toss it a life raft.


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