It was a wonderful tribute to the incredible energy people put into the online communities that they join. When an online community is shuttered, it inevitably ends any number of relationships that people build over years. The Glitch shutdown was very respectful of that.
Veteran Well member Howard Rheingold has a nice piece up about the significance of The Well, which has been around for almost three decades and is looking for a new home now that Salon has put it up for sale. It’s amazing the number of features people take for granted today that were proven on The Well. More importantly, the closeness of the Well community is difficult to accurately describe. It’s amazing to see long lost members returning over the past couple of weeks to offer help or just to reacquaint themselves. For what it’s worth, I think that the two current communities that are most like the Well are Reddit and Metafilter.
- Jay Robinson: Some Notes On iTunes LP. Unsurprisingly, the album info is basically a packaged Web site made of HTML, CSS, and media files. I like that Apple is trying a new way to get people to return to the experience of listening to an album.
- MySQL Performance Blog: 3 ways MySQL uses indexes. Short and useful.
- The American Prospect: The Life and Death of Online Communities. There are plenty of articles on this subject, but they never get old for me. This one’s about GeoCities.
- Ask MetaFilter: New York Times malware ads. Looks like the New York Times is running ads that attempt to install malware. I noticed the same thing on Haaretz a couple of weeks ago. Sounds like something’s wrong with the ad brokers. The New York Times owns up here.
New York Times writer John Schwartz writes about the current state of online communities for people who are conferring about their own medical conditions. Things have gotten a lot more advanced than the usual “Googling about symptoms” that I occasionally engage in.
Here are some hard numbers on the quality of information that’s available:
Can online information be trusted? The answer, increasingly, is yes. In a study earlier this year, a report in the journal Cancer looked at 343 Web pages about breast cancer that came up in online searches. The researchers found 41 inaccurate statements on 18 sites — an error rate of 5.2 percent. Sites promoting alternative medicine were 15 times as likely to offer false or misleading health information as those sites that promoted conventional medicine, the study found.
Andrew Brown noticed that Pluck Site Life, a community software package for newspaper Web sites, handles obnoxious commenters in an unusual way: it enables moderators to put them in a ghetto where they see their own posts but nobody else can see them.
Here’s why it’s inhumane:
But in all these cases, the public punishment of bad comments serves to encourage better behaviour, which is what we ought to be trying to do. People go online to show off, and they will respond to incentives about what sort of behaviour gets them admired.
The Pluck method removes all that. The loonies are robbed of their dignity and don’t even know it. It is entirely corporate. It comes from the world of the Marching Morons, which is, increasingly, the world in which we discover we were living all along.