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I've always wanted to be a part one of those much hyped "online communities." I guess in some ways I am a small part of Slashdot and metafilter, two sites with huge and dedicated communities, though I rarely contribute at either.
After a brief email discussion with an LISNewster in which he described LISNews as a "dysfunctional family," I came to realize maybe we're a community now. I've always felt there were a few people who felt some connection with LISNews over the years, and now maybe it's more than a few, so maybe now we're a community, maybe even a coven. There were people who I became e-cquaintances with through LISNews, and now, there's folks who've made other e-cquaintances as well. Not that we have a big group of people who would be hugging and kissing should they ever meet in person, but there's no doubt a group of people who, for whatever reason, like hanging around the site, and contribute on a regular basis. Some of them know what's happening with the site better than I do most of the time. There are even a few dedicated souls who I know have stuck with the site for years now.
The interaction between & amongst the LISNewsterz is very interesting to me. The interaction in the journals is often quite nice, very supportive, and I see much of the same in the comments, though probably not as much in the latter as the former. There are still trouble makers, people who have a very high percentage of negative moderations, people who really get under my skin, but for the most part many people are usually civil and even helpful. I don't want everyone to get along all the time, but what I would love to see is a higher percentage of civility, niceness, and helpfulness, and a lower percentage of nastiness and flame wars. I'll never understand why the web makes people so crazy-mean all the time. I figure if most of the really active people are mostly nice most of the time, then we'd be miles ahead of most other sites that have an open commenting system. Are we at that point? Probably. Maybe. Almost. It did make me sad to read someone write they've lost faith in the profession because of what they've read here. I think a lot of people are turned off, and driven away by all the fighting. The silent majority doesn't give a shit what Rory thinks about me, nor should they, and seeing everyone screaming and yelling at each other really makes people not want to come back (there's days when I don't want to come back, so I'm sure there are many others who feel the same). I guess we'll see at then end of the month if that last flame filled folly scared anyone away, I do know that we're not doing any record breaking numbers this month, so, not surprisingly, many of the most popular stories this month were only popular with a few people. I wish I had more time to really crunch the numbers. Anyone good with grepping logfiles want to have at it?
So it seems that at some point, I'm not sure when, LISNews developed into an online community, and I managed to completely missed the transformation. People get to know each other, they make friends and enemies, they have discussions, and they help each other out. They reflect a diversity of opinions, and they respect those they disagree with, or at least we do most of the time.
-If you're wondering about the drive to pay for the server in '04, it seems like we'll make it already, I'll add everything up, and write something tomorrow, I hope. I've been completely blown away by the support I've received.