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    For the lazy, go read the article. Seriously, this is a really good read, as @pushcx points out. The four things in summation at the end are reprinted here (without accompanying commentary, because you should read it) just for discussion’s sake:

    Four things to design for:

    1.) If you were going to build a piece of social software to support large and long-lived groups, what would you design for? The first thing you would design for is handles the user can invest in.

    2.) Second, you have to design a way for there to be members in good standing. Have to design some way in which good works get recognized. The minimal way is, posts appear with identity. You can do more sophisticated things like having formal karma or “member since.”

    3.) Three, you need barriers to participation. This is one of the things that killed Usenet. You have to have some cost to either join or participate, if not at the lowest level, then at higher levels. There needs to be some kind of segmentation of capabilities.

    4.) And, finally, you have to find a way to spare the group from scale. Scale alone kills conversations, because conversations require dense two-way conversations. In conversational contexts, Metcalfe’s law is a drag. The fact that the amount of two-way connections you have to support goes up with the square of the users means that the density of conversation falls off very fast as the system scales even a little bit. You have to have some way to let users hang onto the less is more pattern, in order to keep associated with one another.

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      I remember this being eye-opening when it was new, and it has aged very, very well. If I had this in print, in the margin alongside Bion’s second and third patterns of group defense (enemies and veneration), I would write “Twitter” in all-caps, underlined three times in red. I think the only reason the first pattern has faded away is the ubiquity and convenience of dating sites and apps, though I understand women in public forums like Reddit get a lot of terrible passes (quickly shading into outright harassment) via private message.