Two Quick Observations Regarding Online Community

I’m buried in work and research but I have two thoughts dancing on my mind and they’re both related to online community:

  • I hate when websites or tools list reader comments in reverse chronological order i.e. newest messages first. I finally figured out why I hate that: It makes it very difficult to view the messages as a coherent discussion within a pre-existing social context. Because new participants are not immersed in the context of the ongoing discussion they can easily view the opportunity to comment merely as a way to shout messages without any responsibility to engage with or form a community. Mediated communication is difficult enough without us actively encouraging antisocial behaviors and views.
  • Our obsession with tools and technologies leads us to underestimate or ignore the social effects and communities that build up around them. I see this happen all of the time in Wikipedia when new editors leap into articles without having any understanding of the cultural norms of the immense community of users that have used Wikipedia for years. It’s sadly naive to believe that such an immense collection of resources doesn’t have a correspondingly large and complex community with cultural and social norms and expectations.







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