Spontaneous but Long-lasting Online Communities — A Case Study  

This is the paper I have submitted to the conference Towards a Sustainable Online Community at Hochschule Bochum.

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The outline of the paper is below (after the Related Links)


Related Links:

xkcd 1190 "Time" Replay viewer

xkcd 1190 "Time" Dialogue

OTT Index

My Blitz Reports

Detailed Travelogue Notes

The ONGfolding bOTTeriada story as seen by Balthacarius


Outline

Introduction
Background — Challenges to Sustainability

Internet has great promise but "disappointments" too

People seeking complete agreement → Narrowly-focused groups → Political polarization

Ghetto culture; Balkanization; Inefficiency

Flame wars and trolling

We need sociological sustainability to achieve environmental sustainability
The OTT as a case study

Establishment

    Introduction to "xkcd", its fora, and Time comic

    Time engineered to require group effort to achieve full appreciation

    How the cadence of the ONGs forced self-selection of a certain type of person

The Transitions of the 5th Day

    Mod Madness — typically drives many away

    Madness affected OTT less after xkcd staff intervened

    Weekend — different people were online

    Frames slowed down to 1/hour

    Unclear which of these events had an effect, or how

A Puzzle-Solving Culture and Specialization

    Time story gradually more mysterious, requiring specialists to solve riddles

    Complex culture evolved

    Other specialities included artistic expression, peer-moderation

The Transitions of the 5th Month

    OTT far outlives Time, does not want to end

    This transition was anticipated

    OTT "rebooted" itself via the artistic expression culture

    17 more months — demonstrably a Sustainable Online Community

Speculation

    What do we learn from this?

    Many questions are suggested; some will be hard to dismiss

    There are other such communities but they are rare
Appendix: Additional Notes

The OTT as an "Accidental Outlaw" Thread

OTT Mirrors and Backups


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