ttscp wrote:I'm going to talk about the OTT and the lack of flames.
I love the analysis!
If you want to talk about the OTC, skip this post. I do think this post will be on-topic (as if anything in this thread is off-topic), but it does skim the edge.
It is one of the amazing features of this thread that we have had no flames in 28,000 posts. About 24 newpix ago, I followed a link from this thread to a light hearted article about Skynet taking over. Within two comments they were flaming.
So why don't we flame?
We have an unusual bunch here. We are articulate, intelligent, creative, xkcd followers.
... and remember that us people here have been "selected" not only because we are xkcd readers, but also because we haven't grown tired of watching a couple of guys building a sandcastle for months: it requires a certain set of mind...
However that hasn't kept flames from starting in other xkcd fora (as an example, look at them arguing in Serious Business about what the Serious Business forum should be about).
There are over 900 posters. That's usually an invitation to flame. We humans can support an effective social group of about 150 people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number
), that is way higher than chimpanzee social group size of 15 to 120 (http://www.savethechimps.org/chimp-facts
) and I've seen it ascribed to our need to establish where we belong in the group (or social hierarchy) by talking, where chimps do it by grooming. However, 150 is still low compared to 900.
While we go off on whimsical pursuits (poetry, hats, stories, self-made religions, etc) we stay away from the major causes of flame wars elsewhere. There are, I think, three contributing factors: the first is the tick of the OTC itself. Not that we are not capable of concentrated effort, it's just that the appearance of each newpix, with its attendant speculation about what might be happening, tends to derail any sustained emotional commitment to a flame. The second is the collaborative feel brought about by the continuing mystery of the OTC, and the third is our desire to protect the thread from flames, now that we done it so far.
I would add a 4 and a 5: there are so many topics in this thread that even when arguments start to be raised on one, then it remains unimportant since it is only one topic among many others, so why bother arguing wholeheartedly about it? BTW I think that having a single "chatroom" instead of several sub-threads helped a lot in this direction. Another possible reason is that no topic is brought "seriously". With the OTC bringing only frames with rivers, dunes, molpies, etc, any ideological debate would be regarded as irrelevant to the "topic". And I trust GLR to keep the OTC going this way.
I don't think we would have been able to do this without the mystery and continuing tick of newpix. As I noted above, each newpix causes speculation. Whether it is slow sea rise where we are examining pixels of an otherwise unchanged sandcastlescape, or bee-snakes and molpys, we jump all over it and speculate endlessly. We also entertain ourselves between newpix with the aformentioned distractions, but those alone don't derail things as effectively as a newpix.
The collaboration was established early. An example: when we first realized we might lose a frame, mscha programmed the newpixbot. Initially it was programmed to collect and publish the new ong as soon as it became available, but people complained they would have no chance to publish and comment themselves. So mscha graciously backed off and now the newpixbot posts 10 [heresy]minutes[/heresy] after the [heresy]hour[/hour]. I've seen that again and again in the OTT; the spirit is collaborative. Nobody seems worried about whether their stanza ends up in the Jabber-walky, just that we get the best product.
There are limits to collaboration. If I post and nobody pays any attention, I'm likely to get my nose out of joint.
Since the usage here is to try and bring something new with every post (as opposed to, say, a single "lol"), it's always hard to tell when people pay attention to your post. The number of quotes tells you the number of people who found something to add
, which is different from who found the post interesting/funny/good/...
All in all... yep, you've pretty covered everything:)
Edit: and happy 1000th mscha and newpixbot!