Conversation as Commons

Relevant to the modern internet, from Greer, on how the conversational space can (and should) be viewed as a commons.

Certainly something I’m trying to implement around here…

Related, it’s been somewhat interesting seeing in formerly technical corners of the internet I used to lurk in (some of the solar/energy subreddits), just about all the technical people seem to have been fleeing, leaving the spaces to the shrieking clueless classes. Often, something technically correct is posted in response to a nonsensical question, and the first response is to shout down the technically correct people (who say things like, “You can’t use transformers on DC lines to raise voltage, they literally don’t work that way, and DC-DC converters have some very real losses, what exactly are you trying to do again?”). No real surprise they’re leaving…

IRC remains sane as ever, though. :slight_smile:

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Indeed, simple common courtesy can go a long ways. As does complete sentences, which helps provide a framework for complete ideas.

And yeah, I bet IRC will mostly remain sane because you can’t emoji or Like or whatever the new fad is on it to express one’s self. It’s plain text only!

Although has it been updated to UTF text at least? For the non-English language folks.

Sadly I think the future is small commons, almost secret (and you’ve seen this already as private discord/slack channels have proliferated) - and this forum is an example of it.

As Drizzt321 implies part of the “policing” in the past was provided by the technology hurdles themselves; those hurdles have almost entirely disappeared in the search for more ad revenue. Many places are trying to eliminate the need for accounts/passwords!

It is such a shame, and it’s not just the big sites like reddit. When I got started welding had a lot of terrific content in their projects section. Yeah there’s still some nice folks there answering specific questions and such, but it just seems like in the last 5 years or so everybody interesting left. Few new projects, rarely anything ‘advanced’ (which is the kind of applied knowledge where I learn more than just talking about general practices) shows up anymore. I miss the inspiration it brought.

Now I don’t think that’s an example of a site that became toxic per se; some places seems to ‘promote mediocrity’ as mentioned, others everybody doing interesting things just… left. Did things get too expensive for some hobbyists? The old experts retired from it all and quit discussing it? I don’t know why, but it’s happening everywhere.

I wonder if a certain ‘barrier to entry’ actually makes some communities better. You’ll hear the HAM operators complaining about that over the years- with a lot more advanced ‘plug and play’ equipment on the market and minimal requirements for licensing, lots more rude, rambling, rule-breaking toxic jerks end up on the airwaves. Don’t visit the lower end of 80 meters in the evenings, it’s gross :nauseated_face:

Where you don’t have that problem is with the CW folks. Clearly, the kind of person willing to put in the time to learn and practice morse code isn’t the sort to get his jollies by making crass comments about your mother on sideband.

Likewise the sort of person willing to figure out how to self-host their own Discourse instance probably isn’t the sort who’s motivated by ‘the views’, ‘the likes’, and the ad-revenue. Neither are the users who seek such communities the sort to feel fulfilled by leaving comments of ‘first!’ and ‘+1’* under every post.

*[possible wave of sarcastic replies notwithstanding] :yum:

ur mom! loooolllllllll

For years, I’ve tended to full sentence and complete punctuation on the internet. I’ve pointed out to quite a few people that typing like a brain dead AOLer (to borrow the Al) makes people think… well, that you’re a brain dead AOLer.

But I’ve also noticed that the number of people that use a keyboard (physical, full size, etc) anymore is dropping rapidly. It drives my wife up the wall, she’ll sit down to have a conversation with someone over text, and she’s at a laptop, while they’re obviously on a phone and doing other stuff. You can communicate plenty with a keyboard and text, but not over a phone keyboard.

False, in most modern clients. :frowning:

I agree, though I don’t think it’s particularly sad. We’ve seen the internet go from small, weird communities (many predating the internet, think BBS), to big centralized services, and the centralized ones just don’t work. So a return to what worked in the past seems sane.

That feels the right span for a lot of people abandoning the easily found public internet. I don’t know where they’ve gone. I’d assume private spaces, or just… offline. I expect some decent percentage of the interesting people are old enough to remember the times before the interent, and have gone back to that, because it worked better. Go have coffee with the other guys at XYZ place on Friday morning, show stuff off there. I know there are a few of those out here, I’ve just not managed to make the time to attend them, but I should probably start. I’m pretty sure Sunrise airpark is one such place.

Hey now. I tried. My blog was generating $20-$40/mo typically in ad revenue and eBay affiliate links, but I’ve decided it wasn’t worth the hassle, and as the ad industry has continued down their path, I’ll just pay the money to host and not bother with them.


And there’s nothing wrong with getting a kickback from whatever source for useful content. but I was thinking of those who’s online media presence is centered around producing content with the goal of producing as much eyeballs-on-ads as possible. If it’s asinine clickbait that more people click on and get revenue from, asinine clickbait is what they produce. See what’s ‘trending’ on twitter, tik-tok, instagram, etc.

Also say “professional social media influencer” with a sneer and as much disdainful sarcasm as possible.

Honestly the ebay links and the such are a gimme, unless you just don’t feel like promoting that anymore. I got no problem with that sort of thing to defray costs. And I don’t have a problem with a “tip jar” or “buy me a coffee/drink” kind of link. Sure, you’re willing and able to afford that cost, but it’s also nice to be able to show continued support for a space that I want to ensure keeps going.

Speaking of which… how do you keep a smaller space/community like this going if the founder/domain owner/hoster becomes incapable of keeping it going, for any reason (death, dementia, major accident, etc)? That probably can be a topic in it’s own right, and maybe some sort of very cheap domain/hosting account escrow/legal entity, which will simply have a limited power of attorney with clearly defined “when it’s valid” triggers to let a community founder/owner pass on the community to the community, or a limited set of members, in case the worst happens.

Indeed. And that was one of my reasons for removing ads as well, I was certainly prone to “Ooh, this post generated a lot of ad revenue, how can I write more of this?” vs “What do I want to write?” I barely have analytics on the site now…

Mostly, the link format changed and I’ve not scripted the changes. I should do that.

Hm, I think I used to have one of those, I guess it didn’t make the transition. Not a bad idea.

I honestly just hope to have my kids trained up in the art by then. Not a bad topic to think about a bit, though.

There was a short period where it seemed that everything was suddenly made available and you could find it all - remember when using HotBot for any topic would find a pretty active forum dedicated to that? Google et al capitalized on that, but Facebook and friends are killing it.

I do think the truly “local” aspect is where it will start again, with “effectively offline” groups that use the Internet as a supplement communication method, in private or at least in obscurity.

Five years is about the “average lifespan” of a given interest in a project/hobby I’ve found, so if the “new blood” dries up or is significantly lower quality the community fossilizes. The only real way I’ve seen to prevent this is if it is a “generational” group (i.e, composed of families not individuals) - the most common being a parish or similar.

If the community is more or less connected outside the infrastructure provided by one person (discourse, email, matrix, phone, post), the community might migrate.

Or you switch to something federated and not dependent on any one person/group.