How do you maintain your longevity in online community participation?
October 3, 2004 6:46 AM   Subscribe

How do you maintain your longevity in online community participation?
posted by WolfDaddy to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Close off new membership.

Seriously, MeFi's the only online forum I've managed ot last more than a year in, and I think it's because one isn't constantly re-hashing the same discussions and links thanks to all the new people coming in.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:51 AM on October 3, 2004

I find it odd, but true, that the more members of an online community I meet in real life, the less I tend to participate in the community we all share online. I'm not sure why this is (although one meetup I went to ended up rather drunken and lascivious, which I was kinda embarrassed about), but there you have it. I'm almost leery of meeting fellow members of this community for fear of never posting again.

That aside, I find that if I don't take the community too seriously, yet treat the members with respect and know when and where to poke gentle fun and when to spout flame and when to just back off is key to maintaining interest in the community for yourself without being driven away by other members or boredom. How do you do it?
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:52 AM on October 3, 2004

Semi-annual, multiple-week breaks.

I find that I need some time away from the community when it just gets to be too much. Go away, recharge the batteries, get away from the stuff I don't like (as well as taking a break from the stuff I like too much).

I find that when I come back after a little break the things (personalities, asshattery, etc.) that were really bugging me aren't as bad, while the things I really enjoy about the community are still just as good (if not more appreciated after their absence). Kind of like that feeling you get when you come back from vacation — a "nice to be home" feeling.

Of course, sometimes you come back to find the inmates running the asylum and that no one remembers who you are. I'm looking in your direction #mefi! ;)
posted by filmgoerjuan at 7:18 AM on October 3, 2004

I never set out to maintain my longevity as a goal in and of itself. So long as a place is interesting enough for me to hang out, I'll continue to participate. If I get burned out on it, I walk away. Possibly I'll return again if it strikes my fancy.

I've found that I either maintain interest in something for a span of years, or give up on it within a couple of months.
posted by majick at 8:14 AM on October 3, 2004

I outlasted most communities in which I participated. The only one I have ever quit was Plastic after Automatic Media folded and that site's turn away from its Suck origins and its subsequent exclusive focus on hardcore politics.

After being online since 1984, I have found that the general rabble tend toward repetition, and as more people got online, the period for recycling grew incrementally shorter. Then with the advent of blogging, that period dissipated to virtually zero. The internet is quite useful for facilitating introductions to interesting people in real life, but for maintaining artificial acquaintances (outside of business contacts anyway), this medium is lacking.

The best way I have found to maintain interest is to take breaks. However, I am drifting away from online communities altogether. Other than MeFi, my only other regular community is music-related. In November, I begin my retirement with a two-year world tour, and the only online time I expect will be whatever I can catch in coffeehouses offering wireless connects.
posted by mischief at 9:16 AM on October 3, 2004

I dunno. Keeping things fresh and enjoyable is at least partly a game you play with yourself, not just others. If that makes any sense? Of course, MeFi has a good crew, which helps, because it's no fun throwing the ball around without someone else. Then again, you can always juggle...
posted by Shane at 10:25 AM on October 3, 2004

WolfDaddy, do you think it's because you tend to idealize the members (of whatever community) in your mind, and then when you meet them, you find out that don't live up to your expectations, and then you don't care as much about continuing to interact with them online?

I've never met anyone from here, and this is the only community thing I belong to (besides audioscrobblers, which has next to no interaction). I've taken several small breaks from mf (mostly because some of the members start to get on my nerves ;) and it always seems so much more interesting when I come back. I plan on being here until the bitter end.

Mischief, that is SO cool. I'll miss your little zings, tho ;)
posted by iconomy at 10:27 AM on October 3, 2004

Daily updates are always good -- new information or education about particular topics can keep people coming back. Metafilter, DPReview, and Slashdot are the sites I visit most-religiously, and they follow this well.

I think cutting off new user registration only works after you've hit the "creative limit threshold", where people start to repeat each other. It's like pruning a houseplant -- cut too early before enough leaves have grown, and the plant dies slowly. Cut too late -- or not at all -- and the weight of the leaves end up bending the trunk and cutting off the water supply.

I don't know where that analogy came from.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:31 AM on October 3, 2004

WolfDaddy, do you think it's because you tend to idealize the members (of whatever community) in your mind, and then when you meet them, you find out that don't live up to your expectations, and then you don't care as much about continuing to interact with them online?

Well, that's a real poser, iconomy. Many times I become real good friends with several/many members of the community, and thus perhaps the need to interact via the community itself is lessened. I try not to idealize/imagine what another member would be like in real life; the old "dj" problem: someone sounds terrific over the air, but when you finally see them, they're usually 180 degrees about from what you expected. I expect quonsar's the biggest wallflower on earth, by this theory ;-)

However, in the incident I mentioned above--drunk and lascivious--I think the people not involved were rather shocked at me, even though my hard partyin', kiss/seduce every male in sight behaviors should have been well known to those who claimed they felt they "knew" me from what I had written online. So in that instance I felt perhaps I had been idealized a bit, or just maybe the experience of seeing me kissing other boys and stripping them down to their undies (and relieving a lady of her bra to have her join in the fun) is different when you actually see it rather than just read about it. :-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:05 PM on October 3, 2004

Be so dazzling that people demand you come back.
posted by holloway at 1:50 PM on October 3, 2004

speaking more descriptively than prescriptively, as MeFi grew I found myself gravitating toward the individual weblogs of people i enjoyed meeting through MeFi. a number of those have since dried up. once, i started a group weblog to pull in the voices of people i enjoyed from MeFi who didn't have their own weblog. they all eventually migrated to their own weblogs, and participation in the collaboratory site is up and down (currently up).

i was just noticing today that i tend to read more threads in Ask MeFi now than i do in MeFi. the signal to noise ration is higher.
posted by Sean Meade at 7:27 AM on October 4, 2004

posted by Sean Meade at 10:13 AM on October 4, 2004

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