Since running Threadwatch I realized I am probably not the strongest community leader, generally having a hands off mentality. I tend to find the most entertaining threads at Threadwatch are very flamy in nature. As the person running such a site it is hard to derail flames while they are causing active heated discussion. While Brett Tabke has never done anything wrong to me personally (in fact he has generally been rather cool with me multiple times) TWers roasted Brett pretty bad in this thread and it even caused the following comment love this thread, everyone can sigh in relief, the old TW is BACK baby!
I think in small niche communities flames cause more people to cite more resources and better information to try to prove their points. Sure it is easy to get irrational, but that thread linked to above has links to and quotes from so many useful topical resources. But as decentralized communities widen out it seems it is easier to get more irrational quicker. Things seem to become more of an overgrazed commons fast.
My old roommate tended to view information on the web with a sense of purity, but when you look at Danny Sullivan needlessly getting flamed on Wikipedia and then again at Digg it makes you wonder if leaderless community sites only obviously fail in topics you know well, or if they are bad across other topics as well.
Without flames and emotions can communities exist? Can people debate without occasionally going after each other? Can people get past their differences if the communities are rather broad in scope? If communities get too broad can we get past our lack of trust?
Surely the controversy offer link opportunities that should have their motives questioned, but when the Wikipedia editors flame Danny Sullivan and naturally cite this site as a resource for their Free Republic page (which is a political ideology that is not mine) and do not cite it for the SEO topic isn't something screwed up? How pure is the information? How well does THAT scale?
And I am not whining about not being able to get a link, I already have a few and know some of the workarounds, but the point is more that if they drive away people like Danny Sullivan (a guy referenced by Larry Page & Sergey Brin when they were founding Google) then who - other than novices or self promotional spammers - do they expect to contribute to the Wikipedia search section?
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