Denial of service attacks directed at communtities

I used to hate shopping. Now I enjoy it as a form of sport, a game. It isn’t necessarily a good hobby. I spent a few hours on Friday saving 4 dollars! Your amazed, I can tell. I used a sniping tool to bid on 6 identical auctions. I got the object the fourth lowest price in recent history!

So, yesterday I’m shopping for our lodging in Vancouver. At one site where power shoppers hang out I found a reference to BiddingForTravel.com. This is where the folks that play the PriceLine game hang out. (PriceLine is a site that sells surplus travel goods – you name your price and if they can find a vendor willing to take that price a deal is made.)

Originally, I’m sure, the folks that set up Bidding For Travel where just a bunch of power shoppers having some fun hanging out with like minded people; and getting bargins and on vacations. I suspect they yearn for those good old days. Today this is a really amazing site full of discussion boards for each city, hotel, region, etc. etc.

But, to the point of this posting.

When a fun community like this succeeds it becomes valuable. That value draws to the community – trouble! For example people that like to play power games are attracted because they see the power the community has aggreageted. I wonder how often Price Line’s lawyers call the people that run this site; or if Price Line’s bought them yet.

Another kind of trouble is the huge swarm of clueless newbies show that show up at your door. In effect a denial of service attack.

Groups when faced with these threats begin to lay in some organizational muscle to deal with them. Well at least those that survive do. This kind of muscle demands craft knowledge that’s usually different than the craft knowledge that brought the group together in the first place. So it’s often a bit painful – growing th at muscle.

I particularly liked the way that Bidding For Travel addressed how to deal with the swarm. First they did the usual thing. They wrote a FAQ. But then they did something wonderfully clever. They introduced a magic ritual. If the newbie can’t navigate the magic ritual then they ignore them.

The magic ritual is in the FAQ; so you have to read the FAQ. It is a marvalously ornate ritual that in effect helps to teach the newbie the lessions in the FAQ. In effect it’s a quiz that proves that you red the FAQ.

Before asking for help in the forums you have to answer 14 questions about your situation. Many of these questions involve doing some searching on the web. A treasure hunt!

Oh, look! The mail just arrived … rebate check for $15!

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