I'm going to talk about the OTT and the lack of flames. 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. 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 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. If I am misquoted or feel I'm referred to disparagingly, I'm likely to get my nose out of joint. If I have disagreements about what is proper etiquette for posting or what the direction of the OTT should be, I'm likely to get my nose out of joint. However, I need to remember, that it isn't personal. Everyone I have ever seen post in this forum has behaved nicely, even when they were irritated. I can light a match, but I'm better off letting it go out before I get burned, before I let my emotion take me over.
Case in point. I singled out mscha for a compliment above, so I'll use him as an example of something that irritated me. I quoted newpixbot to make a comment about the posted newpix. The response was "How very uninspired...", but the way he quoted, I couldn't tell whether he was talking about my post or the newpixbot ONG which was "DONGS". So I spent some time irritated, and then realized I couldn't tell what he was talking about, and it wasn't worth even lighting a match over. As I said, not personal.
Finally, we now have become protective of the thread. We act to keep flames from happening. SBN pointed out that we can resolve differences only if we know them. I think of that as a another reminder not to take things personally. You may not know that your opinion pushes one of my buttons. I opined in another post that contribution to the thread need not only be poetry, hats, images, graphs but can be just appreciation for one another; the social glue that reminds us that we are all part of the same group, human or bot.
Of course, since I'm emotional about the OTT, this very idea may be the one that I keep the match burning on.
Enough. I'm very happy to be part of this thread, and once again I appreciate all that all of you have done. I don't appreciate all the time it takes away from my Outside responsibilities, but I can't have everything.
And, just to derail the main thought of this post and avoid double posting, here are some random/miscellaneous thoughts
Perhaps MobTeeseboose is not lurking Time, but some other xkcd forum. It may be the newpix bot of that other forum, except that it doesn't post, it just scrapes information for some Sciscitor like graphs.
Newpix is the base unit. For some reason the Outside sped up after the first few newpix.