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« on: September 20, 2022, 12:29:26 pm »

What do you think makes a great online community, what are the ingredients that make a social space not just safe for you but also fun and rewarding to be a part of; and conversely what are the pitfalls that you think need to be avoided?
I think about this a lot and I have plenty of opinions of my own, but Id like to hear what you think :unite:

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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2022, 01:43:13 pm »

Well, for one thing, a competent goddamn staff.

After years of using Tumblr and Twitter, something I've noticed is that neither of the staff behind both sites know what their userbase wants. They've let terrible people run amuck and harass others over stupid crap while preaching about "kid-friendly spaces" and ban people for saying naughty words. They don't care at all about protecting their communities and are obsessed with keeping things ad-friendly. On top of that, they ignore features that people have been asking for for years (art folders, an edit button, proper tagging systems, etc.) and instead give us pointless shit (like the NFT icons :drat:smile:.

Other than that, I'd say a common goal. Part of why social media as a whole in comparison to forums are more chaotic and filled with drama is that they're huge dumping grounds for every kind of community or content imaginable. Forums tend to be me more focused on a specific topic or a project, so the people who come together have similar views and values. There's a lot less discourse happening as a result.

« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2022, 03:08:37 pm »

I have to agree with that last point. The best communities are those that are generally focused around a specific topic or even a specific project. You will always have something in common with the others, you will generally meet people who are somewhat similar to you, and there will be plenty of things and tangents to talk about there.

Bad communities are usually those that are centered around nothing or only around the fact that they are a community. You will meet all kinds of people there that are very different from you, and that leads to clashes over ideology or lived experience, and so on. Meeting people different from you is generally a good thing, but communities with deep trenches can be toxic.

Oh, and of course, moderation that actually takes a clear side against bigotry. One of my favorite hobbies used to be GTA roleplaying (the old text based serious stuff on GTA San An, not the cheap voice chat based streamer knockoff for GTA V), but the community was made up almost entirely of conservative edgy young teenagers, often from countries where the general baseline is even more conservative than in the West. The moderators always hid behind the "let them have fun and take a joke, or are you triggered" thing, which made the entire community unsafe and full of bullying hiding away behind plausible deniability and "u mad bro". Was like that everywhere.
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2022, 05:34:07 am »

I think the main ingredients for a safe and fun social space are fairly simple, especially if it is on a smaller scale...

  • Rules for basic etiquette (e.g.: no "flaming", "trolling", "doxxing", etc.); not censorship of topics, but some general guidelines that are conducive to actual conversation taking place instead of "cyberbullying"
  • A few shared interests or projects that everyone in the group can potentially contribute to, even if it is just expressing their opinions
  • No "punishment" or "reward" mechanisms that form a hierarchy (e.g.: "likes", "upvotes", etc.), other than warnings and time-outs for violating basic etiquette
  • And especially, NO behavior manipulation like: "dark patterns" (i.e.: user interfaces intended to trick a people into doing specific actions), design elements that facilitate addiction (e.g.: "infinite scrolling":wink:, "surveillance capitalism" (e.g.: selling of user data, violations of privacy, "targeted advertising", algorithms that prioritize sensationalism / "clickbait", "astroturfing":wink:

The converse of all of the above would be most "social media" (including those touted as "free speech":wink:. :drat:
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2022, 11:21:58 pm »

Overall I agree with most of what has been said. Something I could add is that for communities to thrive I believe there needs to be some sort of place where people can take their time to write, read and reply to topics and those topics have no hard limits on length (like twitter) and not disappear in a sea of other posts in a matter of minutes.

I also like neocities and the small web in general, because even though there's no forum component, users take their time to read others' pages and then proceed to make contact if they want - said method requires effort, has more meaning and could more easily spawn saner relationships.

I'm saddened to see that so many teenagers try to use TikTok as some sort of community hub - I believe said platform is as bad as a social network could be. I don't blame the teens who stay on it, it's hard to escape something when everyone is using it (see WhatsApp) and they don't want to be left out of trends and memes (plus they had it real bad in the last five years in terms of social network predatory extravaganza). GOD am I that old?? because I sure sound so in what I just wrote lol
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2022, 12:03:09 am »

I think what I always find the best about smaller online spaces such as this forum and general small web content is that the interactions are a lot longer and more personal. My only social media platform is Tumblr, so I don't know if this is even a universal issue, but it's generally frowned upon on Tumblr to contribute to posts that have already been deemed by the community to be "finished". Small users rarely get interactions with others on the platform unless they happen to be funny enough to inspire a tiny following--for instance, I have about 80 regular browsers of my Tumblr blog and they usually appreciate my posts. Yet we never talk! I only ever see them responding to my content in the tags, which is kind of like the Tumblr equivalent of looking over someone's shoulder at what they're texting their friends about. It's nice to know when something I've made is appreciated, but after the post has made a hundred or so circulations it disappears into the void (unless someone happens to find it years later).

What I appreciate about small web culture is that I'm able to directly respond to people on Melonland Forum and be reasonably confident that my short essays will be read by somebody who's interested in seeing longform text responses. I also like that the interactions here tend to be less trend-based, meaning that they tend to stay relevant long after they were posted because the content isn't as focused on a new song or movie being memed to death and dropped in ten minutes.

And for a brief footnote, I also like that everything on Melonland is clearly timestamped and in chronological order. Tumblr is in chrono order as well, though I hear that other socials are not for some reason??

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