I’m very much enjoying reading Chuq Von Roshpach chew his cud on the issues around running online groups. He is saying a lot of things that
people who do this know. But which I don’t think are written down much. This is the kind of social knowledge that Phil Agre complains that smart
people are often sadly entirely unaware of.
For example I like this peice about a technique he’s tried for drawing forth the folks on the long tail of the power-curve.
It reminded me of a story told to me by a friend about the community
theater group that one lucky day managed have a famous actor offer to
join the company. But, when it came to perform the play the famous actor’s
presense on the stage was so powerful that everybody else seemed to
disappear into the back ground.
That’s not good for you community.
I don’t think I can recall any group I’ve ever been in were this kind of
imbalance didn’t begin to be a problem at some point. Where the slope on
the power-law curve grew to severe. Sometimes that lead to the long tail
just drying up and the group evaporates. Sometimes a way around the
problem is found. I’m surprised how often it resolves by the sad device
that the ‘famous actor’ get’s increasingly peeved that people are not respecting
his role as leader dude or he complains that they are falling further and further
into the background of the stage set. Finally he resolves the problem by
walking off in a huff.
The famous actor problem is yet more subtle when you have a cabal of famous actors at the head of your group.