Social Bookmarking and the Communities It Forms

The comment below was left by me on chrisg.com on a post concerned with what causes some of the nastier behavior at Digg towards bloggers:

I don’t know that it is jealousy and ignorance alone. It seems to me forming community has a price, and that more tightly knit communities are going to have common tastes (and for our purposes, “prejudices”) that cause some people who’ve done nothing objectively wrong to be victims.

Look, someone who enjoys being a troll has every incentive to be on the Internet. The worst that can happen is that your e-mail gets banned.

Now social bookmarking – having power over what is and what is not read – is a major incentive for trolls. Not only is there little or no penalty in the first place for being a troll, but now trolling can have a dignity like it has never had before. Think about it this way: forget trolls for a second, and imagine you were talking at a cafe with someone who spent a good portion of his time at Digg. Would someone who spent hours reading articles that were mostly lists and commenting in the threads about the relevance of such articles strike you as particularly thoughtful?

If some Digg users aren’t trolls, we should be worried as human beings: it isn’t like Digg is the equivalent of the Lyceum.

I think what Digg represents is a community whose reason for existence comes very close to being a troll manifesto. After all, some trolls do want to exert power: they want to know their voice counts more than your content.

A solution: Tony Hung pointed out that the top Diggers don’t blog for the most part. I think if they did try to provide actual content, and didn’t aim for popularity among their set merely, Digg would be a much better site.

I have no such solution for Reddit, btw – I think that community is very far gone. There’s nothing resembling a voice of moderation there, on any topic. There is a point of no return on communities, and it’s hard to explain when that has been reached, even though it might not be hard to tell.

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