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Kat Nagel (KatNagel) sent this terrific piece to the EARLY-M
mailing list in December 1994. I received it and have passed it on.
Every list seems to go through the same cycle:
1.Initial enthusiasm (people introduce themselves, and gush a lot
about how wonderful it is to find kindred souls).
2.Evangelism (people moan about how few folks are posting to the
list, and brainstorm recruitment strategies).
3.Growth (more and more people join, more and more lengthy threads
develop, occasional off-topic threads pop up).
4.Community (lots of threads, some more relevant than others; lots
of information and advice is exchanged; experts help other
experts as well as less experienced colleagues; friendships
develop; people tease each other; newcomers are welcomed with
generosity and patience; everyone -- newbie and expert alike --
feels comfortable asking questions, suggesting answers, and
5.Discomfort with diversity (the number of messages increases
dramatically; not every thread is fascinating to every reader;
people start complaining about the signal-to-noise ratio; person
1 threatens to quit if *other* people don't limit discussion to
person 1's pet topic; person 2 agrees with person 1; person 3
tells 1 & 2 to lighten up; more bandwidth is wasted complaining
about off-topic threads than is used for the threads themselves;
everyone gets annoyed).
1.Smug complacency and stagnation (the purists flame everyone
who asks an 'old' question or responds with
humor to a serious post; newbies are rebuffed; traffic
drops to a doze-producing level of a few minor issues; all
interesting discussions happen by private email and are
limited to a few participants; the purists spend lots of time
self-righteously congratulating each other on keeping
off-topic threads off the list).
2.Maturity (a few people quit in a huff; the rest of the
participants stay near stage 4, with stage 5 popping up briefly
every few weeks; many people wear out their second or
third 'delete' key, but the list lives contentedly ever after).