I’m a weird reader in that sometimes I read just the comments on things like advice columns; the actual advice is that not relevant to me but watching people duke it out over social norms is my reality TV fix.
One of the best jobs I’ve had was at the now-something-else 50Plus.com watching retirees chat and post on our forums. (Pro tip: People do not necessarily get wiser, but you can love them anyway.) But how to maintain great online communities can be tricky, even when you invest resources into it–which many sites do not.
This post over at Autostraddle about healthy online communities and the struggle to maintain them as we’ve moved from a homepage culture to a Facebook culture is pretty great, outlining top issues and their response to those issues.
There have been a lot of analyses of the big Reddit meltdown but I pick Davey Alba’s summary at Wired. I’ll also point you at Gina Bianchini’s piece for Re/code solely for the phrase “control is not an option.” Any brand manager or editor worth his or her salt knows that once you forget about the reader, you’re in hot water. But in online communities it’s your animator/moderators who are your bread and butter. When I was playing PernMUSH lo so many moons ago, I learned this one the hard way.
Josh Dzieza’s profile of The Awl at The Verge is a great read but buried in is this important quote which I would summarize as “communities of interest are currently winning, just not your community”:
The transition from media hosted on websites to media built around social platforms is more profound than people realize, Herrman says. As more content is published directly onto Facebook, users will gradually lose a sense of who’s producing what. The most consequential journalism becomes just another unit of content in a single stream of music videos, movie trailers, updates from friends and relatives, advertisements, and viral tidbits from sites adept at gaming fast-changing algorithms and behaviors. Readerships that seem large now will turn out to be as ephemeral as Snapchats.
And finally, an oldie but a goody…Internet Commenter Business Meeting