Re: FWD: Clay Shirky on group dynamics

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Wed Jul 02 2003 - 10:56:52 MDT

Eliezer wrote:

ESY> Michael Wiik wrote:
>> This seems interesting
>> <<The best explanation I have found for the ways in which this
>> pattern establishes itself, the group is its own worst enemy, comes
>> from a book by W.R. Bion called "Experiences in Groups," written in
>> the middle of the last century.
>> Bion was a psychologist who was doing group therapy with groups of
>> neurotics. (Drawing parallels between that and the Internet is left
>> as an exercise for the reader.) The thing that Bion discovered was
>> that the neurotics in his care were, as a group, conspiring to
>> defeat therapy.>>

ESY> This is a really important document for anyone interested in
ESY> designing online communities.

Of possible relevance, here's some online communities that seem to
work pretty well (I am confident readers can find counterexamples by

- A Tale in the Desert, a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role
  Playing Game) unusual in that it lacks the usual killing and
  "leveling treadmill" (where you start off killing bunny rabbits to
  find gold pieces, which you use to buy bigger swords to kill bigger
  animals to find more gold pieces per animal, etc.).
  See (click the Reviews link).

- MetaFilter, an online discussion community. It's declined a lot
  over the last few years, but still has mostly intelligent, mostly
  reasonable discussion if you don't click on the political topics.
  For a site that well-known and that for a long time featured
  open signups, and which is created by its users (they post all the
  front page links that spark discussion), it's surprisingly unbroken.

Of course there's plenty of smaller communities -- newsgroups and
discussion sites -- that work very well; the problems IMXP usually
appear once membership reaches some critical threshold of numbers and
or newbies and or participants-for-the-wrong-reasons (such as "it's a
popular site! I like to see my name in lights at popular sites!").


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