Folks often ask me "how have you been able to make comments work so well on your blog?"
It is not any one thing, it is a bunch of them.
But one of them was the decision to have a "bouncer."
Back in the early days, when we were using the native Typepad comment system and maybe we'd get 10 comments on a good day, my brother, who uses the handle Jackson online, and his friend, who uses the handle Tony Alva, were very frequent commenters here at AVC.
And whenever someone would come into the comments and say nasty stuff about me or what I wrote, Jackson would go right at them. So I started calling Jackson my "Bouncer."
It was effective and the trolls eventually lost interest in the AVC community.
Jackson got social media burnout four or five years ago and lost interest in AVC and pretty much everything else online. He went back to his vinyl records, photo albums, and hard cover books while the rest of us moved onto soundcloud, instagram, and wattpad.
And so I needed a new Bouncer. The obvious choice was Kid Mercury although I might have been tempted to go with Fake Grimlock if he had been around.
The Kid stepped into the role with skill and aplomb. And he is still in the role. Although to be honest, we rarely need a Bouncer anymore around here. The community is the bouncer now in many ways.
I was reminded of this when Jackson showed up yesterday without any warning. I am not sure if he will stick around. If he does, be prepared for an old school bias and a fair bit of cynicism. I hope he sticks around. We could use a bit more of that around here.
interesting . but what is your advice for other people that want to build a community on their blog ? For example my fiancée would like to have more comments on her fashion style blog but rarely people post comments and she has hundreds of visits per day. She definitely has a community but not an active community if I can call it like that. Should I get an alias and start to comment it ? 🙂 .
comments happen organically, through production of great content, on a daily basis like AVC, and through building a community and engaging.if your wife is creating a fashion site that is great and everyday she engages with her community around relevant topics and themes then overtime if her fashion blog stands out, she will obviously create a community. and that community will engage in the comment thread.take film for example, http://www.aintitcool.com/ thats a site Harry Knowles started with his absolute love of film, and they produce daily articles, and the amount of comments are amazing.then in film two newer blogs show up http://www.firstshowing.net/ http://www.slashfilm.com/ and the same thing they have a dedicated community. if your wife is in it for the long hail, fashion, be it street, haute couture, designer fashion whatever, has enough of an audience out there (be it that the web has a population of about 2 billion peeps at the moment) that if she keeps iterating and pivoting (2 common techy terms that lead to success) she will or should succeed.btw what is the site? so we can all take a look and maybe other bright folks here can advice.you wife also has to read Gary Vaynerchuk’s two books ‘Crush it’ and ‘The Thank you Economy’. Other great ones but those are absolutely crucial, she should stop what she is doing right now, and read them.
@ricardoparro:disqus oh and all of Seth Godin’s books, obviously!
🙂 . Love Godin’s books
Thnx for the film community links. Been [email protected]:disqus Be a useful post where we could all share communities we frequent outside of avc. My hunch is that the list is smaller than you would imagine.
@awaldstein:disqus http://mubi.com/ is def one of the best overall. which is more of a site than a blog.
Engagio is auto-generating that list. We have a leadership board which we haven’t revealed yet, I’ll show you this eve…and Fred will see it tomorrow :)Also, the daily email you receive each morning is a microcosm of that, and so is your Sites tab which is where your friends are engaging. It runs deep and paginates.
Yup, daily email is a feature I use often and like. And do discover new things although I’m puzzled by the lack of breadth of the connections. We all focus hard and the circle is smaller than expectedMy sense is that to jump start this some human intervention might actually help. Each of us has their ‘interest footprints’, some of which have communities…poetry, art, architecture, wine, whatever. Many which are more occasional than avc. Maybe stringing these together in a map would surface the connections and put some visible pins on the interest graph ahead of the curve.
LOVE the daily email
me three. wish I had more time to read more and comment more.
ooo, I want to see that.
I will share with you, no prob.
William, am I correct that the e-mails are only weekdays? No weekends? That seems to be my observation, and I’ve sort of missed them on slow weekend mornings. Or is it a coincidence of contacts which generate no content on some weekends?
It should be daily including week-ends, but you’re right that the activity tends to die down a bit on the week-ends and it’s possible that you don’t receive it then.
disqus’ discovery unit (when it starts showing convos across the entire network) and services like engagio should help to broaden that
disqus discovery is more to the blog owner side. Am I right Fred ? What about if I want to discover interesting blogs as a commentator using disqus? Is that possible?
“engagio should help to broaden”Engagio does a great job with that. Those emails that they send have tried to pull me in to reading other blogs that AVC’ers are engaged at. It’s a great idea.Luckily, I have incredible will power and am able to resist the draw. (If I ever loose that power I will unsubscribe.)
Lol. I love it when my product is dangerously addictive 🙂
Plus – Great idea ! _ It would also be good to list the type of communities we are looking for – so we would see “highest and lowest common denominators”.
great advice thanks
thanks, looks great, I think engaging and creating and listening and talking to a community is key. Again, def recommend those books and to keep trying different things to see what works.
No Prob, we all trying to use the Internet to create our own bit of magic.
its a beautifully designed blog. one thing i would suggest is a much bigger comment link. look how it looks on gothamgal’s blog, for example
Thanks Fred! I will take a look to GG’s blog .
Thank you so much Fred and everyone else (including my fiance) for sharing such valuable tips. I’m going to change the comment link to a much bigger one and I will try to engage more with people (through the content and comments).Let’s see how it goes!I’m keeping an eye on gothamgal and your blog as a reference.
before I forget – I <3 your style
Thank you so so much!This is such a nice thing to hear on a rainy windy cloudy London day.
I disliked crush it, I didn’t feel it actively explained how people interact online – what warning signs for a community about to go bad, what for good.
And before she reads those, she can take these actions:- become a regular reader and commenter at other blogs in her topic–be a really useful, engaged commenter, add value to the discussion- check out the profiles of other people who comment on those blogs, start reading and commenting at their blogs, follow them on Twitter, Pinterest, etc.Focus on giving and creating. Be authentic. The getting will follow 🙂
i would recommend disqus for sureand that she regularly but not always end her posts with a question like “do you like this?” or “do you agree?”and most importantly she should reply to comments and engage actively
+10 on the last one.I’ve stopped reading and commenting on blogs where the blogger is not engaged.Every blog, even with good traffic is not a community.
Yup, there is a difference between commenting, discussing, conversations and community. It’s a natural progression really. You can start with commenting, and evolve into vibrant discussions that become conversations, and the whole thing is a community when the members themselves identify with it as strongly as the owner and they also benefit from their presence.The People are the connective tissue that make up the community.
I found being just a little contentious with titles and opinions has garnered a first few comments (very easy to overdo it though). Annoying is when comments are left on linkedIn or else where (I think this may be a B2B issue? ) – it leaves a sense of people peering in through the windows at an empty restaurant – Maybe some window seats ?
Totally agree about comment lefts on LinkedIn. It’s very frustrating to create blog material that you hope will stimulate thought and conversation, only to have all that conversation be dispersed across a few different groups at LinkedIn that may or may not overlap (i.e. an excellent comment in one group that sparks other comments and insight isn’t seen by most of the people that see the post).It’s a very common problem, especially in small b2b business blogs that all of the comments (often dozens, sometimes hundreds) of comments happen on LinkedIn, yet the blog looks like no one reads it or participates. I’ve raised this with both Disqus and Livefyre — it’s a huge opportunity to unify engagement across platforms and have the whole of the conversation be in one place (on your blog), and something that’s desperately needed by b2b bloggers trying breakthrough. b2b bloggers are also much more willing to pay for a service that enables that than they are for the plain vanilla features that Disqus et al have now.Apparently LinkedIn doesn’t play nice, but that’s exactly why it’s valuable — much more valuable than worrying about whether I can upvote or downvote, like or dislike, or have the source of those votes identified.
Brilliantly expressed – It seems to me that If I authorised Disqus (or engag.io) or other platform to use my credentials they could suck it all up and spit it out onto my blog – where it *writefully* belongs. Maybe @wmougayar or @danielha will pick this up !
We missed speaking yesterday.
Must answer my skype – Oh – its you 🙂
Very true. I get on a lot of discussion threads regarding bandwidth and connectivity on linkedin. Nobody talks about marginal cost and horizontalization of the service provider model. When I bring it up, it invariably elicits interest and I find myself repeating what I said, so much that I am beginning to cut and paste from one to another and draw people’s attention to other threads via bitly links. I don’t want to necessarily drive people back to my blog (that’s not its purpose) but I do want to economize on my time and capture a larger audience for my pro-competitive thoughts and investment ideas, which are best summarized by the fact that we are 525 days from the 100 year anniversary of one of the largest deceptions foisted on mankind; aka the Kingsbury Commitment.I’d like to add another group of features to your list. Namely the ability for one to go to ANY article/blog with comment fields and quickly organize and sort and search through the comment fields based on Q/A hierarchies as I often can’t follow the threads easily. Disqus sort of started doing this, but even here I find it hard to follow given the volume of comments and the extreme number of tangents. Additionally I want to automatically highlight those comments indexed by my own tags/topics that I am particularly interested in. Lastly, facilitate the registration process even better. All 3 Would make both distilling and capturing and commenting that much easier. Can disqus do this and make the platform even more 2-way and viral?Lastly, lastly, I really dislike the trade article comment fields that only allow Facebook registration, as it mixes work and social issues/communities I’d rather keep separate. Not sure how to get around that one.
Indeed. I think there isn’t a lot of engagement on LinkedIn, except maybe for a handful of groups. A good vibrant discussion happens in real-time, not in asynchronous mode. And you don’t feel the pulse of a community on LinkedIn like you do here on AVC where the tempo is quite high.
William – I guess I typically get three to four times as many comments on my linkedin groups as I see on my blogs.But then linkedIn is my biggest source of visitors from anywhere.This may be a function of having used it as my first “social media platform”Agreed on asynchronicity 100% just had a great back and fourth about the Green Office in Paris with a man from Schneider Electric.
really? I find I can’t figure out how to use linkedin to meet people…
Hi Shana – I signed up to a bunch of groups of interest to me – I then commented a fair bit (but found it a soul destroying echo chamber – like chatting to yourself in the Grand Canyon). Then I started a Groupwell focussed to my personally geeky theme of ” Building Energy Intelligence” Then I blogged and shared on LinkedIn – now I get most comments there and on associated groups. By contrast – my website is lucky to see 100 visitors a day and 6 comments (but I love ’em all ) and the numbers are growing steadily.Just think all this effort to find a BFF 🙂
I don’t care about real time, at least not now. You need to walk before you run. Initially, I’d settle for the comments showing up on my blog.For anyone who has started a b2b blog, you know there is a natural constituency of readers (who may or may not use any other “engagement” platforms). Some of them are clients + users, others are just people interested in the subject matter, and some are just interested in your point of view. Any of these can be the glue/catalyst that starts a community. However, very few people are willing to be the first to post a comment, so until you have a critical mass, you don’t get comments on the blog (unless you artificially seed them).Pulling those comments back from LinkedIn groups both makes your blog the one place where you can see all related comments (encouraging more to participate there rather than on LinkedIn), and encourages people who wouldn’t otherwise start the conversation to respond to what’s already there.Every community needs a firestarter, and the dispersion of comments across platforms puts out the fire before it gets started.And, while the groups where there is community and engagement on LinkedIn may be few relative to how many there are in total, there are still a large number where it exists. I’d like that my contributions to such groups also help me, not just [email protected]:disqus It isn’t a function of using LinkedIn as your first platform. There is a large number of Hubspot users (of which I’m one) who are small b2b bloggers who all experience the same thing. We write a blog on our own site, post it to relevant LinkedIn groups, and all or most of the discussion happens there. As a group, we have been lobbying Hubspot for 3 years to get this functionality added for exactly this reason, but it is far more core functionality to a commenting system, such as Disqus, than it is to an all-in-one marketing platform like Hubspot to prioritize. Disqus would instantly get dozens, maybe hundreds, of new b2b users just from Hubspot if they added this functionality, and I’d help them promote it.
@thinkdisruptive:disqus – This bugs me too so …How about we do something about it – We start a blog called “ComeAndPlayInMyGarden” ?http://comeplayinmygarden.b…Whoops and there it is. Welcome to all and please promote – That means you too please @fredwilson and all you – I don’t blog I comment gurus ( @JLM )
Whoops killed the page – back now !
So so true about LinkedIn.
EVERYTHING IS PEOPLE.OR PHYSICS.
I find it incredible that some of the most guilty parties are newspaper or online articles. I have been commenting a bit on TNW and TechCrunch and rarely does the reporter respond even when some challenges the data in his/her story
Difference between reporting and value-add/engagement?
Difference between reporting and value-add/engagement?
yup. reporters need to followup with their articles and engage with audience. I think it benefits both sides
The problem is that by the time something ‘goes to print’ in the professional writers world, they are done with the story and on to something else…it’s the old-world publishing model, it’s always about “what’s next”…On-line publishing, especially commenting, needs to be more about “what’s right now” and “what’s happened”…because that’s where the people’s/readers heads really are (and their wallets are generally only a few feet lower than their heads)…Very few have found a business model in this reality yet (except for Google of course — and Twitter appears to be on their way to discovering one as well).
Do you think that also becoming an active commentator on other blogs can improve the one’s profile on disqus and drive more commentators to your blog?
I do believe that 100%. especially if you’re on Engagio and the power commentators start to see where yiu’re commenting, they will follow.
I’ve landed in a few new places due to the Engagio emails every morning.
anything particularly interesting?
One in particular is Atlantic Monthly. I notice that @daveinhackensack:disqus hangs out there.Most of the other places are blogs that I read on occasion but probably wouldn’t have visited on that particular day — such as the blogs of other VCs and also those of AVCers.
I don’t know Engagio. I’ll check it out . Thanks
Pls let me know what you think after. I’m the ceo/founder 🙂 thanks
I tried it and it seems pretty powerful . I love the plugin for gmail . great stuff! Congrats
I’ve learned over the last six months that the answer is not only Yes, but that it’s *essential*. The ‘power bloggers’ out there have known this for years.Nielsen recently reported that after [edit: deleted “Facebook”] social networks, blogs are where most of the traffic on the web is going (by a long way). And I’d wager it’s because of commenting, in large part.If you are serious about getting some legs under your blog and creating your online network, sign up for Engagio and rock it.
will follow your advice. thanks!
Do you happen to have a link to those Nielsen findings? Would love to dig into it…
I believe this is the report https://docs.google.com/ope…I should have said “Social networks,” not Facebook. That’s what I get for quoting from what is laughingly known as my memory. I wish they would have broken out the exact %s for social networks and blogs. I’m sure that’s something one has to pay for.Oddly enough, when I tried to get the actual Nielsen link just now, their site appeared to be down!
http://www.nielsen.com/us/e…I wish they would have broken out the actual %s for social networks vs blogs. S’pose one has to pay for that detail.
THIS RULE TRUE SINCE ORIGINAL BBS.ME LOVE HOW INTERNET DISCOVER NEW THINGS EVERYONE KNOW 20 YEARS AGO EVERY DAY.
True? True. (http://sharkytrue.com you may like)
.Not to pander, I have become so familiar and comfortable with Disqus that I will pass up commenting on something because they do not use Disqus.Kind of like renting a small car when you are 6’4″, it just doesn’t fit and it leaves you feeling cramped and uncomfortable..
Totally true. I will harass the blogs I enjoy to install Disqus. My brother in law finally acquiesced. 🙂
We’ve also noticed your power user “JLM dot space hack”, adding a single “.” + carriage return before and after every comment. The electronic equiv of elbow room!
.Oh, shit, my secret’s out..
Yep.I wouldn’t expect every single blog to use Disqus but then again, I do.A turn off when they don’t.
I’m a fan, but they don’t seem to be able to make it work on my blogging platform (Hubspot), despite having a plug in. Have exchanged notes with support a couple of times, but it’s never been resolved.
JLM, agreed. See my point earlier to @thinkdisruptive about Disqus becoming an Uber-commenting and organizing tool for me to use my tagging/indexing to cut across all the silos and distill, organize, retain, and comment much more effectively.
There is a one word answer to that question … Tribe.
The Bartender, The Bouncer and The Tribe …ha … sounds like a movie title.
Or a book title.
The book is already here as blog….
When you say Tribe are you referring to Tribes like the ones in seth godin’s book?
I have not read his book … and to answer you question… yes… I read about it in one of the blogs.
Seth’s books are awesome brain candy…super easy and fun to read (but also lots of deep thoughts and practical advice that can gained if you’re paying attention as well)…most you can read in single sitting or two…and, if you’re like me, most you’ll want to read more than once.Highly recommend them if you’ve got an interest in marketing… 🙂
@falicon:disqus I have no interest in marketing but will read his books because of your reco :-).
“He went back to his vinyl records, photo albums, and hard cover books”. Wow, that gave me a huge pang of nostalgia. You will feel guilty if you tempt him back. Don’t do it Jackson!
But those were formative years for AVC and for Commenting etiquette as a whole. Whereas a bouncer was needed previously, Jackson obsoleted himself because the community is self-policing as you observed.
I do not believe people become obsolete – (roles perhaps).If however, Jackson feels redundant – he could always spend his life rounding up parties for visits to my place – heaven knows it could use it – I would take on roudy’s, ne’er-do-wells, and even AVC asylum seekers and count myself lucky !
Fred – the utopiatic blinders that generally shroud thegrouping of followers – seems to be minimal here at AVC.In mentioning your first Bouncer – you noticed the fatigueprinciple coming to play.. Like facebook, AOL, SOPA, FakeGrimlock, casualencounters at CL – shouldn’t they all bedoomed ? replaced by more “actual &physical” time with our family/loved ones/self, rather than trite andmeaningless drivel typed to a screen meant only as an attempt at trying tobelong to an ethereal grouping?
my brother is a loved one and i get great joy out of seeing him show up here
I don’t know that we are that much different online than in person. Those who type meaningless drivel at an attempt to belong to an ethereal grouping probably do something similar in real life.Some of us come to the social web to engage. And we probably do the same in our off-line interactions as well. Online doesn’t “replace” other interactions.For the people I know both online and off, what I experience of them is pretty consistent.Then, there is this article that I read yesterday… definitely true for me. http://adage.com/article/gu…
.I think one of the most compelling and interesting phenomena of the web and technology in general is the impact on communication skills.Kids are natural communicators and reach a level of communication intimacy at a much younger age. They simply have more opportunities to communicate and to retain their circles of friends. They are learning faster.My Perfect Daughter has several interlocking circles of friends that total thousands of people. It is really amazing to see how many people she knows.On some days, she just works her deal and communicates with scads of them.I think anything that you practice, you become better at doing. I must say personally that I am infinitely more comfortable communicating with seeming strangers having had the experience. And I was not really that shy to start with.The flattening of communication and the ability to interface directly with genuine sources is making the world more informed in real time.When you can see a Russian warship slipping into a Syrian harbor in real time, you don’t need a talking head to interpret the implications for you..
It is informed, but not in a deep way – we’ve gotten rid of the time to really think about implications.I don’t think the federalist papers would have gone viral.
.The Federalist (the correct name actually) should be required reading for every American.One has to remember that these essays were written at the time of the ratification of the Constitution and are the most basic arguments for what the Constitution is intended to accomplish.Anyone who would question what the Founding Fathers intended can find enlightenment in these essays.They were originally serialized and published in the newspapers of the day — sometimes 2-3 per week — and in that manner, they went “viral” in the definition of their day..
Which is why it is an interesting question if the same sort of writing would go viral today. I mean in theory we could start amendingthe constitution to do something, and then have lots of writing on the subject – but would that even happen today.For a living document, we tend to treat it with too much holiness.
.There is some sense in me that it would be interesting to have a Constitutional Convention — which is what the Founding Fathers intended to have happen from time to time.The FFs made it very difficult to amend the Constitution — 2/3s of the States must call for a convention and then 3/4s of the delegates or State legislatures must approve the changes.So, one has to ask oneself — how “living” is this document to start with?It is certainly not easy to change and yet it has been changed 26 times (27 actually but one amendment cancelled an earlier one).I would say that the “life” of the document has been driven by Court interpretations more than anything else.It is a damn good system..
We’ve had perhaps half a dozen constitutional conventions since federation (Wikipedia fails to inform here). Our last was in 1998. It proposed an constitutional amendment that would form a republic with a bi-partisan appointed President. It was defeated by referendum in 1999. It’s unlikely that we’ll have another during the reign of Elizabeth II.Although I’m a republican I voted No primarily because I opposed way the convention was hastily and undemocratically cobbled together. The next convention will almost certainly propose an amendment facilitating a directly elected President, something that I vehemently object to, so I’ll be voting No again.All that aside, it’s a bloody good democratic exercise.
I’ve seen you strike a conversation with the NY taxi driver from Sudan like he was your buddy. Classic JLM.
.True story. Haha.That chap had a very interesting story and we had a quick chat about the status of things in Sudan — from a guy who was from there! Talk about reliable data.That is where I get all my stories from.I love to hear people’s stories. I am just fascinated by from whence people have come and their families and their lives. And their experiences.I also think we are all connected.I remember chatting with you about my Lebanon experience vacationing on the beach in a tent. In that instant, we were connected — forever.Again, life — ain’t it grand? On Earth as it is in ATX..
I shared a similar chat with a fellow from Côte d’Ivoire during the cab ride from IAH (Houston International Airport) into town. I love those conversations. We talked about his wife waiting for a visa to come to the U.S., his brother, etc. But he was very interested in info I shared about taxis and drivers in Bangkok; is tipping common?, etc.I use a lot of taxis in Thailand and almost always chat with the drivers. Great interaction and typically interesting exchange of informations.
Piggybacking off your point JLM… Something I’m adamant about and something I think you and @915ee22847dcafb04dfa9c5466e6fccd:disqus brought up in your recent Blogworld talk is that getting to know someone online first often facilitates IRL meetings, conversations, and friendships.
Very true. Online is a good warm-up for the IRL.
Hi Donna:I don’t think people do behave the same online and offline in general, but they do seem to here, and that’s what makes this feel more authentic and natural to participate in. If the average level of discourse on the web is representative of the way real people are, I don’t want to know most people.Not sure if you were referring specifically to the community of commenters here, or everywhere, but I think that is a big part of what makes commenting here work. There is a level of trust, openness, truthfulness, sincerity, engagement and a sense that you get to know the others here that doesn’t exist elsewhere, and which is like a flywheel that keeps the comments churning, even on slow days. I’m curious whether Fred is correct — that having ‘bouncers’ is what it took to build the flywheel’s momentum — or whether something else organic occurred because of Fred’s style and effort in doing this daily until it took on its own life.
Hi TD,If Facebook is any gauge, the people I interact with there are very close to their offline selves. That’s probably the place where I have interacted with the vast majority of the same people offline at some point — whether it is a childhood playmate or some point beyond. And then of course my family members and they are SO themselves online!I’m not thinking so much how people express themselves, but the character that comes through. I think those inane comments on YouTube are probably truly representative of the people making them at a base level. (I so wish that wasn’t true!)One of the things about this community is that it seems to draw people who are good at articulating their thoughts. Fred has set the bar and the tone for authenticity and transparency. I have actually become a better communicator through my interactions here. Iron sharpens iron.So I think that here at AVC you have a large group of people who like to play by certain rules — or at least are willing to. And you have people who like to communicate and are willing to make the effort. I appreciate this exchange.
Oh, one other thing. I don’t know about the bouncer aspect. By the time I arrived, @kidmercury:disqus was in full swing. And definitely one of the cast of characters I returned to hear more from.
I responded to you — twice — had a P.S. Both comments disappeared and now I’m on the fly and can’t recreate them. Appreciated the exchange even if my half of it didn’t make it. Maybe exceeded my comment quota for the day.Edit: Just found them using my Disqus dashboard — so maybe they will appear later.
I got both of them. Some strange bugs in that Disqus. I guess you and I are the only ones who know what they said.On the assumption that they will appear out of the ether, your remark about people you know on Facebook being the same on and offline is interesting because I think the fact that you know them makes a difference. Generally, people behave better when their identity is known and they perceive having something to lose. Not everyone (me, for example) but most do.My broad experience is that I meet very few trolls offline, but scads of them online. Negative to be negative. No redeeming virtue. Spewing empty, vacuous nonsense that has no purpose but to taunt and test the patience of the recipient. Since I so seldom meet people who present that way offline, I can only assume that most trolls behave differently when they are around real people, or folks they know. And, (I hope) those are people that I don’t know.re: articulation of thoughts. Yes. This is definitely an above average IQ crowd. Lots of entrepreneurs, wanna be entrepreneurs, top notch technical people, VCs. I would expect that type of person to be more interesting to chat with than the average man-on-the-street who can’t name the vice president, and to be able to express themselves and sell their ideas. And, that’s a self-reinforcing virtuous cycle — other intelligent and well-spoken people are attracted to meaningful conversations. Trolls would find this dreadfully boring. So the quality of conversation is what protects the quality of conversation.
On a more serious note: Yes – however I find that being here has helped stabilize my other relationships because I want to reach out to people more.
Bouncers get rid of the riffraff, but they don’t necessarily motivate the good eggs to participate in the conversation. It helps to have them clean up the noise, but positive participation is driven by connecting – striking a chord with your readers and being a part of the conversation; you do that well here.
Big Plus for the term “Good Egg” – something I have always strived for.Somehow a counterpoint to “bad-apple” I feel.
Oh, thanks. Important to distinguish between bad apples and rotten tomatoes with sour grapes. Sorry, if I’m mixing apples and oranges. OK, have a peachy day.#FruitSaladDays
Love the metaphor salad!
And I like that you called it a “metaphor salad.”
LOL! And a little groan.. 😉
My thoughts egg-actly.
You need more than one person being a connector, especially at the scale that is here.I’ve actually seriously thought about writing a book about how to systematically drive people to converse with each other online – I am sure there is a science to what is going on here.
To your point Shana, there’s a lot of contributing factors to a community of this scale. Fred’s personal investment in this community matters, but so does many key contributors here like @JLM:disqus and others that facilitate good conversation.In addition, you have to think about the how platform scales. Disqus provides one of the best (if not the best) commenting system for blogs. It’s ability to seamlessly integrate with Fred’s blog, the level in which it combats spam, community profiles, notification system, etc. — all top notch.There’s absolutely a science to what’s going on, complete with peer reviewed academic papers. In summary, and to simplify what’s actually a relatively complex ecosystem at work, there’s a handful of things that have to work well together.
got the names of some researchers in this area?
I would encourage you to check out Richard Millington’s comprehensive resource here: http://bit.ly/xKOt4NIf you scroll all the way to the bottom there’s a list of academic articles. Hope this helps!
Sorry, can’t agree.There is absolutely not a science nor a formula to create community.There is understanding of behavior certainly.There are aspects of leadership that we can list. But certainly no prescription that will make anyone a leaderThere are components of amazing platforms like Disqus that engender communications.But there is no formula. That is why there are so few communities of substance and advanced dynamics out there.I’ll mollify my stance to say that community design is an amalgam of a little bit of science (tech), behavioral understanding (group psychology) and the ineffable, the art.You manipulate these entities but community at its working best is magic.You can encourage it.You can get everything ‘perfect’. But can never count on it happening.
I do agree with your point above about this not being a scientific processIn my opinion, communities can start with just 2 people and over time build up to 10s or 100s or perhaps it never will. The point I am making is that communities do not need to be large entities to be successful. In fact, I would argue that smaller communities with more engaged audience will bring the most value to its members.
Understand better. Thanks.I agree that size is not a determinant but I’m not certain that small is better actually.I also agree agree that there are components, conceptual ones. What I object to and just don’t believe is that there is a formula for community other than in the vaguest, most general terms.I’ve been building communities for years. They constantly surprise me. They constantly run against grain and logic. That’s why I’m attracted to design them.
I think the advantage to scale in a community is the diversity and activity it allows for.When your community hits a certain scale, it’s easier to keep it going even when a key, active member doesn’t show up for a bit (while in the early days of building the community, a drought from a key member can REALLY kill momentum).I don’t know if it’s a formula per-se, but here are my basic starter rules for building a community:1. The first ‘rule of building community’ should be “show up”.2. The second rule should be, “be consistently active”.3. Be consistently and aggressively pushing and pulling quality people into your community (which generally includes a fair share of marketing, advertising, and also just plain old hustle of getting out there and active in their communities too).Or more simply “Give more than you get” and the odds that your community will grow are GREATLY improved…
Agree with all of these points. We connect at core beliefs Kevin.But…let’s look at this from a different angle.Leadership sets the tone for behavior and its rhythms. The key to life in the comments here is that random, impromptu, circuitous and banter are encouraged.That slamming of ideas let’s exploration go where it goes (like this string), let’s us get to know each other beyond the topic (our interest footprint) and engenders familiarity online that encourages connections off.I think that encouragement, those ground rules of generosity sets the scene for what we have here…and even sometimes I find it on my blog and others.That’s a directed action for community that is tangible that few talk about.
“Leadership sets the tone for behavior and its rhythms.”Couldn’t agree with that more the attitude comes from the top.
You are nailing it, Arnold. This is good!Not sure if I read you correctly, but the spirit of generosity runs deep here and that is an important element. Sets the tone. If there was a secret sauce, that would be a main ingredient.
THERE JUST ONE RULE.FIRE.
I just discovered that one can upvote oneself. That can’t be good. I corrected my mistake.
“I just discovered”That was true with the old disqus as well iir.Munchausenly, one can also downvote.
“Munchausenly” — had to look that one up — almost wish I hadn’t.
“That’s why I’m attracted to design them. “If you ever need a cohort… just sayin.
“Community design is an amalgam of a little bit of science (tech), behavioral understanding (group psychology) and the ineffable, the art.”I love this and I didn’t mean to over-simplify my statement that there’s a science to a community building. I think you absolutely need all of the things you mention above and some serendipity, which you allude to with “magic.”My intent was just that you don’t have to “Fred Wilson caliber” to grow a great community and there are a handful of things that consistently contribute to the success of *many* communities; one of those very well could be a bit of “luck.” Great community managers are worth their weight in gold, but even those won’t get it right all the time if the circumstances aren’t aligned.
Didn’t mean to jump….I’m just a community junkie as you know and have a hot button around the idea of a formulaic approach.I agree…they come in all shapes and sizes. I honestly consider avc truly a corner case…albeit a great one that I’m proud to be a part of.Comm manager and UX designers are superheroes on a good day for certain.
“have a hot button around the idea of a formulaic approach.”I think that’s because you are an artist in the way you think. (I guess I am more of an observer than a creator although I also consider myself artistic I really enjoy studying what others do and trying to come up with the behavior code).
Thanks LEI’ve never thought of myself that way but I do take some pride in trusting my gut and listening hard to the market.
I second that — @domainregistry:disqus called it well.But I think that any good marketer is part scientist, part artist. Finding the right mix is the magic. (She says, thinking out loud.)
“trusting my gut”There was a scene on “Million dollar listing los angeles” that I watched last night with my wife. One of the brokers (Josh Altman) didn’t want to take a listing (he didn’t like the seller) but his girlfriend told him to crawl back in and say he was sorry (he blew out of a meeting with the seller). The seller wanted a certain price. Josh brought an offer and the seller wouldn’t even counter (was insulted). So Josh told the brokers rep “no deal no counter sorry”. He thought the seller should have counted but the seller was stubborn and wouldn’t budge.The buyers crawled back in and came w/i 100k of the listing price and a deal was made.Before the scene was over I said to my wife “Altman was right. His instinct was that the seller was difficult and he was. The fact that the deal happened is an outlier. You can’t win everytime. You have to follow what works for you consistently in deal making (and then I talked about it for another 4 minutes as she fell asleep…oh well).Anyway I restarted the show and Altman says “I’m usually right about this but this was a case where I was wrong” kinda sheepishly. And I’m sure most people probably think he fucked up.But I don’t think he did at all and I don’t think he should have listened to his girlfriend either even though the deal happened in the end (she never met the seller so she didn’t know every nuance of why Josh was spooked). He will mess with his gut and start to question himself which is not a good thing.The bottom line was Josh’s well honed instinct was that he would have trouble with this deal. Had the buyer not caved (could totally have happened) Josh would have sunk so much time into this because the seller was so unreasonable. And that is what Josh sensed from the initial meeting with him which is why he walked out on the getting the listing.As any salesman knows time is the most important resource you have. You can’t spend time on all deals you have to focus on the best prospects. So I thought Josh was right even though the show implied he was wrong. I’m reminded of this every time my Dad meets some noodnik and tells me to contact him “because it will only take a minute what do you have to loose???”Trust your gut if your gut has proven to be right the majority of time.It’s one of the reasons I never discuss deals with anyone while I am working on them. I don’t want to have my thinking clouded by the peanut gallery. (When things start to go wrong of course I will reevaluate that thinking obviously).
Good share. Thanks.Most everything in life is an assumption actually. You just need to sure that your not betting more of the farm than you can afford to loose.
Key cliche that I have found to be true is to focus on the downside in any decision making. To many times people get blinded by the upside and don’t look at what they stand to loose with a particular decision.
yup…never count on the big deal that could change your world.
there is probably a science behind really bad community development and management though…..
Agreed Arnold. You can fan the flames but you cannot design the spark of authenticity (this is not as true where the ‘community’ is not as critically minded).
@ryanstephens:disqus @awaldstein:[email protected] says: “There’s absolutely a science to what’s going on, complete with peer reviewed academic papers.”@awaldstein says: “There is absolutely not a science nor a formula to create community.”Although I don’t know of any peer reviewed academic papers (Ryan, links?) I’m fairly certain that this community could be reversed engineered and duplicated if operated by a person of Fred’s stature and temperament on either the same topic, or, in another industry with similar characteristics and audience.That’s not to take away anything at all that Fred has done here. It is certainly not saying that this place isn’t special (it is. I mean it’s the only place I impart my wisdom. ) Just that the reality is that the secret sauce here is all out in the open and apparent to anyone who is in the community. No guessing involved.”But certainly no prescription that will make anyone a leader “I agree with that. But one thing to keep in mind is that Fred on this blog is not visual or aural. We don’t see him we don’t hear him. He is communicating only in words. As such it’s much easier to duplicate that. Some things that Seinfeld says are funny because of his appearance and his vocal intonation. Certain Generals from WW2 looked the part and commanded respect, not just for their actions and what they said but how they said it. I’m sure @JLM:disqus wouldn’t dispute that nor would anyone who has ever watched old newsreels of the war.Now I don’t know to what degree someone could actually do this but it certainly is within the realm of possibilities for it to happen and for someone to create a community similar to AVC by studying AVC (and, to reiterate they have to have something that creates a clear draw to maintain engagement among regulars.)
People are building the communities of tomorrow every day.Most of us trying to do that have studied and participate in the ones that work today.But and I say this with all sincerity, I learn and truly enjoy participating in this community but i can’t think of any instance where i would want to create another community of similar dynamics.The beauty of communities is that they are unique to their goals.Many VCs have and or are trying to build communities and deal flow through their blogs. The only ones that are succeeding are doing it in their own unique way.All that being said I would quibble with the fact that Fred as leader is not viscerally present. This community more than any other I know is truly a bridge to offline connections. That is true with Fred as well.
Fred is always here.
“it’s the only place I impart my wisdom”Well, then, we are fortunate indeed. 😉 Seriously.I must say that when I find an AVC regular commenting on another blog, even then there is generally something special that person’s contribution. Maybe I’m biased. But it feels a little like spreading the wealth.
totally agree. It’s what makes it all so hard and rewarding
This is such an incredibly fascinating topic.The making of a community.There may not be a formula — I don’t know — but there are elements that serve as guideposts.I don’t know that anyone could or even should try to replicate AVC, but there have to be some take-aways.I appreciate the thinking you bring to this dynamic. If anyone figures it out, it will be you.
You need more than one person to bounce too.Shift work.
Provocateurs also have their place in the ecosystem.
Keeping the level of discourse high is really important though. Look at what happened to youtube! I don’t know about you guys but I’m thoroughly amazed at the IQ vacuum filling those comment sections. People don’t want to waste their time talking to brick walls.. Anyone watch Californication? David Duchovny goes off on a great rant when a girl he’s sleeping with says LOL. I have to quote because it’s just too good: “[… about the internet] You know, it just seems to me it’s just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people at a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King’s English.” That’s true of places like youtube but not this blog! There’s a standard that’s been established here that pushes everybody to be just a little more thoughtful.
It’s a big enough place now that you can have two bouncers.I’m hoping for some good “fights” as the election heats up after labor day.
Funny that you should mention your brother and comments in this post, because just yesterday I discovered that my SISTER has been a stalker at AVC. She commented the first time just to let me know she was here, a few weeks ago. I assumed that was the last time.Tech is pretty foreign to her and she says that at times she feels like she is reading in a different language, but she is drawn to your writing style and your sense of conviction even when she has no idea of what you are talking about. Although there have been topics that captured her interest and she is smart enough to translate the concepts into her own world. Even more than that, she enjoys reading the comments. She is fascinated by AVC and the concept of a blog community.Eventually she will probably gravitate toward a blog more closely related to her world which is urban education and finding ways to nurture and empower under-resourced urban kids. She is a “hacking education” type.But in the meantime, I am glad that she is experiencing this community and will have AVC as a standard as she continues to venture out onto the social web.Oh, and she has been up-voting. She was pretty proud of that.”Hi Alex” if you are reading this. And “Hi Jackson.”
Hey Donna – If you don’t mind sharing – “What’s her handle ?” – so we can say hi where we see her , and does she understand if AVC is her standard – the only way is down ?
Thanks, James. I did tell her that what she is observing here is pretty unique.Alex Brewington — kept her name professionally when she married — she is not yet on Disqus (logs in with FB –we’ll fix that). On twitter she is @lovescitykidz but she hasn’t tweeted for a couple of years. We’ll fix that too.
get her using engagio!! she might like stalking here networks all from one place 🙂
that’s a great story Donna, two Brewingtons on avc, double trouble 😉 hey Alex if you are still lurking!
Thank you, Richard. And you corrected me. By the time I realized I’d used “stalker” instead of “lurker” in error, people had already repeated it in replies so I had to let it stand. Stalking is what my kids call me visiting their FB pages.I can assure you that one of the up-votes received on your comment was from Alex.
I wish my brother stalked me!Tech is foreign by its nature – it is something new, and we’re always adapting to it at different rates. There is definitely technology out there that I have a slow adaption curve too.(fyi, hi alex, I thought the online exchange between the two of you was super cute!)
I’m glad to have my daunter chime in here and there. PantherKitty gets a unique vista of passionate makers, funders and managers. She will call my bluff offline, but not old enough to do so online. Give her a few years.
my daughter sticks to calling me out on FB.
I thought your brother entertained at Bar Mitzvah’s???http://www.youtube.com/watc…
He looks nothing like her!
“Hacking education” … is a better ‘tech’ than what we do :-).
I can 100% guarantee that none of my siblings are AVC stalkers.I think 😉
The great thing about avc is that the discussions here transcend tech. For me it’s about life. The adecdotes, life lessons shared here can be applied to nearly all disciplines/vocations in the offline world.
So true, Flavio. That is part of the charm and why we have such a diverse group and range of viewpoints. But I do think that the tech thread that runs through AVC is an important element of this community and a big part of the draw.
I have been “outed” by my sister Donna, and I am ready. She is right; I am a stalker on this site and have been for several weeks now. I won’t comment much but I will read your words, pray that your endeavors are met with success and applaud your creativity. I will laugh with you. I will also be sad when you are sad, but I will pray and believe that whatever sadness occurs in your life is temporary. I didn’t tell Donna this, but as much as I enjoy reading Fred’s blog and your comments, I LOVE Donna’s words. She’s just so incredibly smart, isn’t she?? She knows so much, so I read to connect with her expertise in business and her suggestions!! Enough. Back to reading your words.
A lovely comment, Alex. Thank you for posting here. I hope we’ll see more of you.
Great to have you chime in Alex…and I agree with you…Donna is ‘wicked smart’…always fun to hear what she’s got to say/share 🙂
Awww… thank you, Kevin.Well, I’m in good company.
Check’s in the mail, sister dear.xoxo
If she needs some tech know how, I give news and tutorials featuring tech stuff, but in very simple easy to know human words.My site is Techman’s World. http://techmansworld.blogsp….
Thanks. I checked it out myself, looks interesting. Will also pass along to Alex.
Thanks. If she wants to recommend what I should cover next, tell her to contact me with my info at the bottom of my page or on the About page.
You say that Jackson would “go right at them”. I always thought it was better to ignore trolls. Which is more effective?
better for me to ignore trolls, but not you
That’s a policy I support.
.I think three of the things that have contributed to the comity of AVC.com:The wide range of topics and the fact that there is something for everyone coupled with a genuine and authentic education opportunity on an almost daily basis.The fact that there is a “behind the curtain” aspect of AVC.com — there is a real VC, a real company, real events, real people and they are accessible. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed having dinner w/ Fred, Arnold, William in NYC after BlogWorld.As Arnold wisely observes: “It ain’t just virtual, baby.” Something like that, I think.The quality of the people, commentary, diversity of opinions and the geographical spread are incredible. Really just incredible.I have met so many different people on line and in person. I have had my eyes opened by so many different views — particularly those with which I am initially inclined not to embrace or agree with.And I have received two invitations — TWO — to visit Chile.AVC.com is really quite extraordinary and its authenticity is beyond reproach. It is thoroughly enjoyable..
“The quality of the people, commentary, diversity of opinions and the geographical spread are incredible. Really just incredible.I have met so many different people on line and in person. I have had my eyes opened by so many different views…”Right back at ya JLM – Your writing and wisdom is inspirational.
I need an invite to visit Chile…South America is really dang high on my list. Aiming to make it down there later this year, but my new travel startup might delay that.
If JLM set the ‘required background to get an invite to Chile’ bar, we are all in big trouble.
well spoken, I echo these strange attractors. AVC is a melting pot of ideas and action.
The “forks” and the ability to deviate from the topic of the day is also key.
I started coming for the “genuine and authentic education”. I now come expecting [and receiving] it every day
I’ve been a stalker/lurker at AVC for about 8 months (first time commenting!). As an avid reader I’m learning continually and I feel as though I know many of you personally. As JLM says it truly is quite extraordinary.
.Nova Scotia? I love Nova Scotia.Welcome, friend, what took you so long, we’ve been waiting for YOU!.
Thanks JLM. Yes Nova Scotia – Cape Breton Island specifically. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood please let me know. Very much appreciate the warm welcome by you and @ShanaC:disqus
😉 just doing my job
Welcome! Don’t be a lurker, we like talking to you all!
Ah. Nostalgia.Nothing like a whiff of it once a while.
Related: I love it so much when Lili or my brother or close friends love a track of mine on exfm or a post of mine on my blog. Silly, but I love my family so much and that validation makes me smile.
Does Jackson DJ? He could parlay his love of vinyl and famous sibling into DJ gigs, like Chloe Sevigny’s brother did.
Ha! Where did that come from?!!
Same place the rest of my comments come from!
OK. Rock on.
Fred, are you saying that the 911 inside job kid is an “inside” on the payroll man?
there is no payroll here at AVC. but he’s on the team
He used to call Fred as ‘boss’ …
Nothing improper about it, then humour of my comment was missed.
Ha! I get the joke 🙂
I can’t believe Jackson got social media burnout 5 years ago – these were still early days for social networks 🙂 I wonder sometimes if this burnout will ever hit mainstream and most people will decide they have had enough of social networks. Probably not but the thought does cross my mind every now and then
he was into blogging and stuff back in 2003. that was social media before social networks
good distinction. Still, I would love to hear what he thinks of all the social networks intensity ongoing at the moment. Would he have lasted 4-5 years if FB and twitter were around? Maybe these comments will draw him out again 🙂
To avoid it I now naturally err towards the mediums most relevant to me and spend very little time on others. In my case I have pretty much totally abandoned Facebook and primarily focus (in SM terms) on Twitter and Instagram* (*pending Facebook screwing it up, that is, possibly…)
Oh, and here, of course 🙂
1. “But one of them was the decision to have a “bouncer.””2. In the previous version of of Disqus – Fred was tagged as the Bartender3. I attended an even Disqus community event @ USV several weeks ago…at which there was an ongoing discussion about AVC – being like a bar, I think Cheers was the establishment that was mentioned4. The other day JLM named this virtual watering hole “Freddie’s Place”It all comes together.
.Freddie’s PlaceFred Wilson is a Fred, a serious guy who does serious things and who is leaving some footprints.But underneath that professional facade is a guy who does not take himself too seriously, is living large with wonderment, rides a freakin’ scooter and who is rubbing his rabbit’s foot every morning when he gets up — that’s Freddie.When you come to AVC.com, you are coming to see what Fred Wilson is up to today but you are also coming to see all of your pals at Freddie’s Place where everyone is just living, trying to reap the whirlwind that is life, where everyone knows your name (OK, pseudonyum) and where you can let your guard down just a bit.At the end of the day, the joint is owned by Fred Wilson but to all of us passersby and tribal members — it’s Freddie’s Place. A place where you feel good to be part of the community.Ain’t life grand? On Earth as it is in ATX..
In the blogosphere as it is on AVC.
This is pretty much the only blog that I read the comments on or even comment myself once in a while. Love the community on it. Its an online frat. Beer pong anyone?
we do need more women here. it can be a bit too much of a frat
the numbers of women who do appear sporadically seems to have gone up significantly (I notice). And the worst of the frat behavior seems to have gone down.What you’re asking for is a “in time” thing.
i’ve noticed too — waaaay more women actively and consistently commenting in the past year. 🙂
role modelsthank you
and @leigh:disqus is a great one…for me too
I moderate an alumnae group on LI. It took about 3 years to get conversation going, and it’s still growing and developing. It will be a while before we reach level of interactivity you have here — maybe a very long time, as the population is far smaller than I imagine your readership here to be.(LI is not a great discussion platform, but that’s another topic.)
LI is dreadful for discussion. Email arrives: “X discussions on LinkedIn”. Click. Log in page. *kills tab*.
Yup. Better moderator tools could help. Those emails work against much of what mods do, too, since they seem to go out completely independent of our actions.
I love it here. And would love for more women. Sometimes I only have time to read. I have not even had time to post to GG’s piece on Having It All. #moretimeplease
Noticed the 2 recent hires at USV were male. What was the proportion of male/female applicants?
they were the best candidates. three of the six finalists were women. we try. but we also will not run our business on a quota
Cristina a great advertisement for ability first, gender second hiring @ AVC. Crackerjack.
I for one appreciate that. The issue is at the source, not the outcome.
Glad I can be of assistance 😉
Speaking of which, where has @Tereza been?I feel like I haven’t seen her around the comments as much these days (hopefully that means HonestlyNow is kicking so much butt she’s just too busy!)…
From what I can tell she is uber busy. And I am loving Honestly Now. But I sorely miss her here.cc: @Tereza:disqus
I replied to you below, but it ended up outside the threadhttp://www.avc.com/a_vc/201…
Me too … The only blog i comment. I read almost all the comments. Many a times it is the comments which supersedes the actual post.
So Mr.Wilson had trolls and riffraffs taken care of by his brother hmm…
I was watching the MLB All Star game last night when a reporter called Derek Jeter, “Mr. Jeter.”He replied, “Don’t call me that – that’s my dad’s name.” 😉
I recall that Jackson is one of the world’s biggest Replacement fans.
yes. and heavy metal.
The Replacements were great. 10 years ago or so, I won free tix from some now-defunt indie radio station to see Paul Westerberg play at some venue halfway out on Long Island, and he played a bunch of Replacements songs.
“Alex Chilton” makes for a cool pseudonym/handle.
Thanks for explaining what happened to Jackson. I had wondered. I’m glad he is enjoying his vinyl.
My older brother (who recently started reading AVC) and I have each other’s backs and call bullshit on each other when we need to. That kind of relationship is a wonderful thing, not much else like it in the world.
That is cool… I had that relation with my dad…. .
The near complete absence of trolls on avc never ceases to amaze me.This place really is like an online version of Cheers. Still wish Disqus would bring back some form of visible like though. #stepbackwards imo
I agree, Richard. “Likes” and “upvotes” are different for me. Even if votes were labeled “agree”/”disagree” they are different than a “Like” for me.
close close business connections are the best bouncers. I have a few of them at geek estate blog and have been a bouncer for many of my close friends when they get attacked unnecessarily online.would be so awesome if trolls would give up without the need for bouncers, but i don’t think that’ll ever be the case 🙁
it was a scary moment in a standup yesterday when some of my team members were updating me on the goings on at avc!there are thousands of stalkers out there…;
Above the bouncer role, I think Kid’s role as chief instigator should be highlighted.Fred’s reputation get’s him an automatic “amen!” from the vast majority of commenters here. Which I guess makes sense as this is his concert, with his fanboys in attendance.But I’d like to give a nod to Kid Mercury, and the other contrarians (not trolls), who aren’t afraid to tell Fred when he’s off his rocker. And also a nod to Fred for being responsive to counter opinions… usually. :o)
Contrarians can be your biggest advocate. They want to help you figure out the root of the problem being discussed.
I totally agree. In fact my biggest detractors have always served to refine my work to a deeper smarter level. All yes is not only dull, but creates an unthinking lull which doesn’t push to next levels.
i’m dying to know who gave you that down vote.actually, i’d rather not know that person.
Yep. On the personal front a person who criticizes actually wants us to better in life…
My first post on here was reacting to some flagrant Kid rant 🙂
Bill Maher likes to say ‘that the problem with the USofA is that we are loyal to the person, not the principles’.In that vein, I am not sure I am a Fred Fanboy but that I am more of a fan of the philosophy, principles and performance that underlie Fred’s Place.
PUNY HUMAN BRAIN REMEMBER FRIEND FIRST, FRIEND PUNCHED YOU IN FACE SECOND.
as it should be
thanks for the nod! i have an unhealthy fondness for mischief, i’m glad it’s at least of some use in this context. 🙂
kid had acted more than a bouncer… he is a annoyingly lovely contrarian.
While we are reminiscing, the volume of comments has skyrocketed in the 7 years I have been hanging around here. It used to be rare we hit 50, now we get several hundred regularly.
” be prepared for an old school bias and a fair bit of cynicism. I hope he sticks around. We could use a bit more of that around.”Love it. From Brahms to ac/dc !!!
a big spiritual lesson in this .. our world is as we are
indeed…..like attracts like…..the law of social media
Indeed. Contrarians included, thankfully; else this would simply become another inane and circular meme echo chamber! ;-)I suspect our commonality here, in its rawest form, is curiosity.The essence of life.
finally, the municipal bond crisis in the US looks like it is starting. this took forever to come around, i was getting worried it was never going to come. anyway, this is the big chance to replace local governments with internet services in the US. there is that one municipality where all local govt employees, including the mayor, are having their salary reduced to minimum wage……pension funds will be raided soon enough. there is an opportunity to offer services once provided by local government and this opportunity will lead to the rise of social networks as legitimate governments. (aka the crap i’ve been talking about over and over again for the past 6 years). looking forward to seeing how this plays out over the next few years.
Not as connected to news as usual Kid….trigger?
in the past 2 weeks we’ve had 3 municipalities in california file for bankruptcy: http://www.bloomberg.com/ne…plus there’s the one in pennsylvania, scranton, that cut everyone’s salary to minimum wage.this will cause interest rates to rise, at which point what is going on in europe will come to the states. as the collapse escalates the opportunity will become more clear as well.
I cant wait for the investment opportunities December will bring 😉
.I agree with you more than you agree with yourself.The size and cost of government at all levels has got to shrink, contract and go on a diet. It is too big, too expensive and lacking flexibility and responsiveness.When local wages are going down, the cost of government has to move in the same direction and steadily.One of the aspects of the muni bond market is that because of its non-taxable status its interest rates are just a smidge below similar creditworthy taxables bonds — problem is that with such low interest rates, there is no room BELOW corp bond rates any more.Plus the investor class has so many capital losses and loss carry forwards, they are not thinking about taxes right now.Defined benefit pension funds are dead meat and have been for 20 years. The stench is just starting to waft to the surface.All the AFSCME and other union toads are going to get right sized and many will lose their jobs.They have all waited too long to react..
While I agree that government services are unaffordable and unworkable as currently constituted, and that it’s highly likely that there will be many defaults, it doesn’t follow either that internet services will replace them or that “social networks” will act as legitimate governments. We will have fighting in the streets before that happens, and a high degree of social unrest that will make the sixties look like a walk in the park.We need to reform how government works, and especially make those who spend the money more accountable + more fiscally responsible, but you can’t dispossess half of society by firing them or reducing their pay to minimum wage. Scranton is walking a tightrope right now, and I wouldn’t put much stock in the future civility in a town that puts cops and firefighters on minimum wage — better they should layoff all the admins and paper pushers at city hall, and cut unnecessary programs completely before putting essential services who risk their lives daily to protect us on minimum wage (potentially costing them their house, ability to keep kids in college, etc.)The outcome of that level of civil unrest is never predictable. Those who demonstrated during the Arab Spring thought they were going to get democracy, but they are getting the Muslim Brotherhood and sharia law. Be careful what you ask for.
civil unrest is coming for sure, which will only fuel an internet/social networks driven revolution even more; the two are complementary. i don’t see how reform of the existing system is possible and i see the entire nation-state system as obsolete in a world characterized by urbanization and internationalization.ultimately there will be a greater number of issues like how fires will get put out, how security services will be provided, etc. all of that will be privatized, and what was put forth in the book snow crash is a great example of things will pan out. the nation-state will wither away because it doesn’t have the money to do anything. instead of taxes, which will increasingly become unenforceable, people will pay private firefighting companies, transportation systems, education systems, etc. all of this will be driven by networking technology and thus constitutes an enormous opportunity for internet entrepreneurs.
If the rest of the world was like the US, then there is a chance, however improbable, that your post-apocalyptic scenario could come to be. Except it isn’t.More than half the world lives under totalinarianism. 1/3 of the world lives under religious extremist rule, and it’s rapidly growing. More than 1/2 the world is still concerned with basic survival, and lives the way our ancestors did 1000 years ago. While it’s likely much of the rest of the world will modernize and use online community tools over the next 30-40 years, that doesn’t mean they’ll reach our state of decadent decay, and expectations that exceed our reach, nor will they share our values or feel compelled to group in a libertarian/anarchist fashion as you describe.Even in the US, where it’s most likely, it wouldn’t happen without a civil war, as at least 1/3 to 1/2 the country disagrees with the other’s point of view. We aren’t yet broken enough that I see catalysts for this eventuality happening in the next 30-40 years (effectively in my lifetime). The people who hold the power positions aren’t simply going to walk away from them, and let your vision occur.If I was going to bet on a post-apocalyptic future, it would be one where the religious extremists have taken over, and where my kids are forced to worship Allah or die. We don’t care enough to stop that from happening, and they are willing to die to make it happen. Passion, conviction and religious fervor will win the day before a utopian community-based internet-enabled society has a chance.
all revolutions start with a very tiny group of people, there is no need to think about billions of people on a global level now as all that is needed is a small group to get things closer to the tipping point. the same arguments regarding impossibility were raised during the civil war and the american revolution. what is important is that the macroeconomies and governments are falling apart so something has to come as a replacement.
Correct. And most revolutions fail as a tiny band of people are either killed or jailed. Are people willing to give their lives for this? I don’t think so. I think you articulated my point in talking about the path to the tipping point. Many are already walking paths to different tipping points.I just don’t see it.
there are enough people willing to give their lives for it already, if you look at all the revolutionary movements already blossoming. more importantly, though, people don’t get courage until they lose money and get desperate. ergo, the gift that is the municipal bond crisis.
And what of all the people who lost their jobs, savings, and houses? They aren’t starting a revolution (and it would be the opposite of the one you’re talking about). 15% fewer people own a house today than 5 years ago. Millions more backlogged foreclosures still waiting to come on the market, suppressing values for 2-5 more years. Still no revolution. Hell, 1/2 the country still thinks Obama has done a good job and should get 4 more years!You over-estimate the willingness of people who aren’t 18-22 to fight and die. Takes a lot more than a salary cut or bond crisis. That’s pretty esoteric stuff for most people.As the song says “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” — not enough “free” people of common mind to start any revolutions.
we’re repeating the same points — as noted, i think only a very small minority is needed to start things off, and i believe that minority is in place and will continue to grow for lack of better options. there is nowhere near a majority but that is not needed because of how tipping points work. first comes .5%, then 1% follow them, then 2% follow that 1%, then 4% follow those latest 2%, etc.it is easier to address this issue by focusing on alternatives. as the municipal bond crisis escalates all the services provided by municipal governments will no longer be provided. so what happens?
Some of the services — hopefully the essential ones — will continue. Taxes will rise. Inflation will catch up to all the money we’ve printed and make the debt less meaningful. Basically, inertia happens, and the status quo doesn’t change much.The likelihood of this scenario is about 80%. The likelihood of your scenario is less than 2% I believe. There is no where near enough momentum or belief in what you suggest for a tipping point in the near future.
if the debt is inflated away, what happens to the price of utilities, food, transportation, and wages?inertia changes quickly because of tipping points, that is the whole underlying idea behind tipping points. though the crisis we are in has a long time to go. the municipal bond crisis will go on for years, just like the euro crisis. as somebody famous once said, people overestimate what can happen in a year and underestimate what can happen in 10.
I understand how tipping points work. You keep raising this as if I should bow down and worship the Tipping Point. I’m neither over or underestimating change or the possibility of it. Everything has a probability. Too many extreme things have to happen, including extreme pain and extreme beliefs for your scenario to occur. I didn’t say it’s impossible, just highly unlikely.Evidently you are too young to remember the 70s. When debt is inflated away, the price of all goods and services also inflates. For a while, it inflates faster than income, but income almost keeps pace (as long as we don’t have Weimar Republic hyperinflation). The currency is devalued (which is a good thing for jobs, exports and balance of trade deficits), interest rates rise more to keep inflation under control, and eventually, if the debt is steadily paid off, things regain stability. Income catches up a few years after things stabilize.This is painful, especially to those on fixed income (seniors especially), and un- or low-skilled labor that who doesn’t have unions fighting for wage indexing, but after a while, it does sort itself out. It’s also beneficial to those who owe long term debt on real assets — e.g. 30 year mortgage on a house. After a decade of inflation, the house price will have escalated, but the debt will have shrunk enormously relative to income, while the mortgage interest rate is miniscule compared with inflation. (That’s why anyone who can should be buying a house or two right now.) This is a repeating pattern that has happened twice in recent memory.Yes, the internet makes technology different. No, the internet doesn’t make people or economic behavior different.
wages have not kept up with prices inflation for the past 40+ years.currency devaluation is not a good thing for an economy running a trade deficit (imports greater than exports). the US has been running trade deficits for over 12 years.this is not the 70s, there is no volcker moment to raise interest rates and make the problem go away. when volcker raised rates he solved the currency problem but set the stage for the deficit problem by causing enormous deficits through the 80s. now we face both problems.housing prices will not escalate in real terms (perhaps nominal, but not real) when interest rates rise. when interest rates rise anything purchased with credit will see its price fall in real terms. this is an important point. this is why housing is a bad idea now, although it will be great opportunity *for those who can pay in all cash* once rates rise. this exact situation is already unfolding in greece/spain and will come to the US as the municipal bond crisis escalates.because of the economics of the situation, as illustrated in this comment, i consider extreme pain the path we are on. the only question is whether or not people accept a bigger, more centralized government — dictators often rise to power in times of extreme pain — or if decentralization will reign supreme. i bet on decentralization, if only out of necessity, because the alternative — a bigger, more centralized goverment — is far worse.
Currency devaluation is a good thing because:a) raises cost of imports (increases likelihood of buying American alternative)b) lowers cost of exports to foreign countries (increases likelihood of selling US exports which are currently priced too high to be affordable in much of the world)c) a+b means manufacturing jobs come back to US (just as they have in Brazil after radical currency devaluation in 1999), which decreases burden on gov’t payouts, UI, debt, etc.d) more people with jobs + confidence solves housing collapse (5 years of deferred demand catches up with us, and people start buying cheap properties at low interest rates, starting to bring normalcy, liquidity, price appreciation to market)e) purchase of houses stimulates demand for household goods, new houses, etc. which puts even more people back to workf) currency is currently overvalued by about 50% based on what we can buy with it vs the value of what we sell to others + how much debt we have. This structural problem must be fixed for trade flows to reverse and equalize.Without currency devaluation, the trade deficit will continue to increase, as it is too cheap to buy foreign goods relative to what we produce. The trade deficit will correct itself quickly when the above happens.Wages have not kept up with inflation for the past 10 years precisely because our currency is too strong (relative to China especially) which makes our labor force too expensive relative to alternatives. When there is low demand for American labor, wages fall. If we were close to full employment, wages would rise quickly. We’ve also had a lot of de-unionization of US workers, which has brought wages that had escalated too quickly from the late 1970s into the 1990s back down. The past 10 years are clearly an anomaly, and getting US workers back to work will restore wages to parity with inflation, or more. Before the last 10 years, wage gains exceeded long term inflation going back to the 1960s, and the price of many goods fell so much that the wages earned purchased much more.Deficits are not caused by raising interest rates. Deficits are caused by spending too much. Tying the hands of congress and requiring a balanced budget, except in demonstrable emergencies (e.g. to pay for a world war), that can only be over-ridden by 75% majority vote, and which must be reapproved each year would kill deficits pretty quickly.Housing is currently priced significantly below the cost to build in most markets. When foreclosures are cleared out and excess inventory is absorbed into the market, prices will rise at least to the level to build within 2-3 years. That alone will represent about 30% price inflation from current levels, regardless of interest rates up to about 7-8% for a long term mortgage. In fact, rising interest rates will stimulate demand as people suddenly realize that they have all-time bargains staring them in the face in terms of property value + carrying cost. You will see a mad rush of pent up demand to the housing market as people try to buy in before it’s “too late”. Keeping rates low now is suppressing demand, in part because people are worried that prices will keep falling. When they start focusing on affordability rather than price, which interest rate rises will cause, demand will explode. The 15% fewer who own houses today than 5 years ago are tired of living in their parents’ basement, and their parents are tired of them living there. And, many of them would like to start families. Housing demand will be like it was post WW2. (i.e. our fiscal policy right now is doing almost everything wrong).Regardless of all the above, I think you are placing the wrong bet. You’re right that we don’t want bigger government, but many will fight it getting significantly smaller. Some (many) services are not suited to privatization — too much conflict of interest. I do agree about dictators — anyone who promises solutions based on hope rather than reality — leveraging crisis. Sometimes good people do too. That’s because it is human nature to look to leaders to lead, not socially-networked communities.
obviously we come from different schools of economics. i agree that if the version of economics you put forth is correct there is nothing to worry about and the nation-state can go on without much of a problem.
I suppose we may, but I don’t think so. Economics tends to view people as rational, all things being equal, and to make calculations holding other variables constant. People aren’t rational, and variables are related (and co-dependent) and any “science” that ignores human behavior and psychology hasn’t got a lot of chance of being right, especially in extraordinary times. I suspect we disagree more on what things are relevant, and which events are likely to occur, than what will happen if they do.There is still plenty to worry about. It’s unlikely that governments will do as they should, in the short or long term. Your scenario could happen too, it just requires a lot of unlikely events to line up. Like shaking double 6s 50 times in a row.
if you think inflating the debt is a solution, there is not much to worry about as that is precisely what is going to happen. if you think inflating the debt only magnifies the problem, the school of thought i come from, then obviously there is a lot to be concerned about. money supply is all that matters in macroeconomics, if you have a differing view of it than your outlook will be entirely different.
Kid, do you follow these guys on Twitter: @umairh and @maxkeiser – if not, I think you’d like their thoughts…
yup they’re both great — i like max a bit more since he is more more of a conspiracist, but both share good info
<uncloak>I’m not as smart as the folks who comment daily, so I usually defer to the more muscular brainpower participation. I do, however, read everyday, absorb it, reflect upon the genius-level activity and try to leverage what I learn in my career and private life. Fred and GG’s blog posts and comment threads should be required reading in every business or engineering curriculum. Dare I say, in all academia, period. Two really awesome people, IMHO.</uncloak>
cool cloaking device 🙂
“I’m not as smart as the folks who comment daily”I beg to differ.I’ve actually become a better communicator by commenting here. Iron sharpens iron.
Speaking of community wanted to see what the AVC community thinks of a web 3.0 blog post I wrote: http://legendarymoves.com/w…
Seems to me AVC has morphed from interest centered (the world of startups & VC) to a significant weight on the social dimension (lot of people been here a long time), whilst still centering around these core interests. It has thereby become largely self regulating community.
The aggregate number of comments per post has certainly risen, a lot. But with that has come a ton of concentration also? Eg, what % of comments come from what % of commenters? How many unique commenters per post? In the bad old days when jackson (and me) were serious lurkers, it usually no more than 1-2 comments per commenter per post. Sorry, not sure this is in any way pertinent, just curious. 😉
spot on. its largely a core group chatting with each other throughout the day. but i really enjoy the banter and learn a lot from it.
@disqus – On edits I still get a 1.5 line edit box. Also if you insert @something in between an existing sentence it wipes out everything you’ve written after the insert. Firefox 13.01 Macintosh. Lastly, consistently hitting post will post but the edit box remains active and doesn’t disappear. The only way to see the post is to load the page again in the browser. This seems to happen after the first post that you do which does work.Note: Edit box was fine on this edit. So I think the 1.5 line is an artifact of an edit on a reply to someone elses post.
ME, GRIMLOCK, NOT BOUNCE!ME THUD.
that sounds very effective
IT VERY MESSY.
Dead Robot Dinosaur Bounce is the new paradigm for Dead Cat Bounce?
Jackson, if you are listening, I for one hope that you will stick around.
A few a years ago, I was very involved in a popular onlne community of passionate book readers. It was diverse, high level and lively: really, an awesome community. Everyone was aware of the value of what we have built and, as a consequence, everyone was trying to leave space to the others by not being too assertive or obnoxious and, on the other hand, with more or less subtlety, letting know who was crossing the line that he was hurting himself. That’s a great and very difficult thing to enable this on this blog.
+1 for old school bias and cynicism!
I wish I could get community regulars at my site. I have a tech site, Techman’s World.If anyone wants to take a look at it, the address is techmansworld.blogspot.com. I’m working on getting my own domain, if I can get a big enough community that is worth spending money on.
I’ve been avid reader of this blog for past 1 year or so. I didn’t comment much because whenever i read any blog here there are already more than 200 comments on that post. There are many a times i feel like adding my opinion on certain posts but then i get skeptical that someone might have already had the same idea/opinion in first 200+ comments and i might be looked upon as just an echo-er of thoughts without adding any value. I can’t read all 200+ comments because of lack of time. I feel that there might be thousands of other people who might be feeling like me. If we can do something to involve those folks sitting on sidelines then we will have more diverse community [email protected]:disqus Your gesture of praising ‘bouncers’ is really sweet. Bouncers/Moderators play a very important role in growing a community. On the other hand you yourself is so much involved (pic attached is testimony to that:) ) in every discussion and people feel really interactive when author comments back. Not many blog author does that. Thanks for that.
Thank you. I would like to hear your opinion even if there are 100+, 200+ comments already. Maybe you can help break out of the echo chamber issues?It is definitely a problem when scaling a community – how do you get people to talk to each other without creating an echo chamber. It is only an issue I’ve partially hacked myself.Any ideas/suggestions welcome at this point!
Hmm. Really? I thought I was re-hashing some old & obvious stuff.Open to your point of view.
jackson and tony alva were more into the posts about music and such. when i stopped doing that here, they were less interested
Good list.There’s a lot to learn from this. But they are not a prescription strictly a way to search for a language to think about what makes community work.
unfortunately, you always lose some of the core indie fans when you go pop. metallica, bob dylan, green day are examples of acts that have gotten widely criticized for their fame and fortune. looks like we can add fred wilson to the list!