A common topic I've seen so far on Tildes is what exactly differentiates it from other online communities. This doesn't just encompass vision and meta-rules, but also the current state of the...
A common topic I've seen so far on Tildes is what exactly differentiates it from other online communities. This doesn't just encompass vision and meta-rules, but also the current state of the forum, and it's userbase. I wanted to propose a possible metric for gauging the quality of a forum, and would love to hear feedback on it. The metric is as follows: when all the content on the platform is no longer realistically consumable by any given member of the community.
I feel like Tildes is still currently at this state, but is somewhat quickly getting to the point where it's unrealistic for any one user to absorb all the content on the site. Once this tipping point arrives, the community has to change. The choice will be between whether one should start consuming all the content on specific sub-forums, like ~talk or ~comp, and ignoring the discussions and other subforums one cares less about, or accept that one will only ever see what is popular overall within the site.
I feel like this falls into 3 main categories: Community, growth, and that "magic" feeling of nascent internet communities.
I think it's important to define what I mean by "information" or "content". Information is meant in the more information theoretic context - it's a more abstract representation of content. It's context specific information that can be manifested as an image, a post, a comment, or even a set of rules. Information is, broadly, what makes up the discussion. If anyone has read Information: A history, a theory, a flood, I mean information in the same way it is defined and used in that book.
When every user is able to see what every other use posts, everyone involved has a singular point of view into the content of that community. It's never sharded or split - the information is distributed evenly, and everyone has close to 100% of it. Everyone might not agree or interpret content in the same way, but the very fact that everyone is seeing the same content, and the information is presented identically, makes it so that there is a very dense set of common ground. It's nearly impossible to "miss" big events - these being singular, really well written comment chains, unique posts, or thought provoking ideas. The sense of community is there because no one is excluded due to sheer amount of information - if someone puts in the effort to see everything, and it's still possible to see everything, they're almost automatically a part of that community.
Once a forum becomes so large that any one person can no longer realistically consume all the content it starts straying towards the lowest common denominator. These are posts that share common ground with everyone, which unfortunately means that you lose that unique community. Most people one site will no longer have seen every single post. You no longer run into posts or comments that are as thought provoking, simply because there is so much content only that which appeals to everyone will make it to the top.
This ties in closely with what I mentioned above - the growth is what spurs those changes. Once you no longer have that feeling of community, you interact with it differently. You no longer can rely on the same people seeing your content, and the content itself starts decreasing in quality. This isn't due to "dumb" people joining - it's due to the sheer amount of "Information" being generated. The idea of Eternal September is tangential to this - you're not just losing out on community due to a lot of new users, it's also a loss of community due to sheer amount of information.
- Magic internet moments:
I don't have a good definition of this but I think most people will know what I mean. Every popular online community has these moments - they're the random acts of pizza, randomly encountering someone else from the same site in real life, crazy coincidences, etc. These are often what kick start the crazy growth in the previous post - they're just really cool events that happen because of the internet, and specifically happen on that site. The new reddit book We are the nerds goes over a ton of these in the early days of reddit, and how they propelled it to what it is today.
I wanted to ask the current Tildes community what they thought about this, whether they had any major disagreements, and if anything can be done to remedy this./
This is something I've been grappling with for a while. For context I'm a long time mod on reddit, primarily of r/IAmA, r/damnthatsinteresting, and r/churning. I've helped grow and curate these communities over time, and each is drastically different. The most relevant here is probably r/churning, though.
It used to be that there was a core set of users that contributed all the content. They were known by name, everyone that visited knew who they were, and they built up the hobby to what it is today. All the things that I mentioned above started happening there - the content started skewing towards the trivial questions, new members weren't properly acclimated, and the sheer amount of information caused the mods at the time to implement fairly drastic rules to combat these issues. Once you could no longer realistically consume all the content the community aspect sort of fell apart, and it became more akin to a Q&A subreddit, with new users asking the same questions.
Do you believe there is something unique/special about those "early" users, and what changes have you noticed historically once that "content" tipping point arrives?