layout: post published: true Date: 2011-03-12 Tags:
posterous_url: http://blog.ajdecon.org/web-communities-leave-their-marks posterous_slug: web-communities-leave-their-marks
Only speculating here, but I'm starting to think that people's online styles are heavily influenced by the styles of the online communities they've been involved in before--especially the first ones. There are obvious examples--for example, it's always been easy to spot 4chan refugees--but it also seems to extend to less obnoxious communities.
For example, I find it possible to recognize many fellow kuro5hin refugees, because that site encouraged a certain style of discourse which involved long and detailed comments, which were nevertheless modded down to hell if they seemed too pretentious. This isn't necessarily a good style, I should note: it encouraged obnoxious Internet libertarians, and simultaneously celebrated intelligence and hated intellectualism. But I notice its marks in my own Internet behavior, years after kuro5hin fell apart and became a haven for trolls, because I was involved in kuro5hin during my formative Internet years. Metafilter users are similarly recognizable, albiet with a much lower incidence of Internet libertarians and a higher toleration for hipsters. And the Digg refugees who recently fled their sinking ship are now spreading their memes elsewhere.
A common lifecycle for an online community is to grow, develop, attract too many users to be sustainable, and then fall apart; the lucky ones retain enough of their core base to keep their personality for a small group. So most people will be involved in a series of communities, and pick up different influences.
For the curious, my own chain of communities looks something like this:
Slashdot -> Kuro5hin -> ScienceBlogs -> PHD Comics Forums -> Hacker News