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Re: Message Board

At 08:06 AM 4/24/2006, Matthew.Quinn@sunlife.com wrote:

>Just wondering- is there any reason why there is no LD Message Board?

Yes, there is a reason. It has nothing to do with personal preferences. 
Neither mine, nor yours, nor anybody else's. It also has nothing to do 

It has everything to do with community. How communities form, how people 
interact with each other, how communities sustain or fade out.

I started using online networked environments in the 80's. I was 
by the possibilities they offered to allow new communities to form, and 
possibilities for new methods of communication.

Over many years of using these environments, I observed that the interface 
and method for the communication had a huge effect on how people 
interacted, and the type of communities they did or did not form. Bulletin 
boards, group chat, instant messaging, mailing lists, video conferencing, 
newsgroups, etc., all turn out differently. Even subtle things can have a 
significant impact. With mailing lists, for example, factors like 
bounce/digest, moderation, posting rules, even whether the "reply-to" 
is set to the list address or the poster's address, all affect the way 
people communicate in different ways. Some formats turn out ugly, and 
result if a lot of flaming, or trolls, or whatever. But some turn out 
wonderfully, when applied the right way.

So, the reason for choosing one interface or another should really depend 
on the application and the type of communication desired. Is the goal more 
of a friendly community, where people are a little chatty and get to know 
each other over a long time? Is it just for posting announcements or ads? 
Technical question and answers with a minimum of nonsense? Customer 
support? A good place to chat people up and try to get a date? A different 
format will work better in each case. Choosing the wrong format usually 
results in failure.

When I wanted to start a community around looping, my goal was to form a 
community. I hoped people would spend extended time there, and get to know 
one another. I wanted people to share information and collaborate on 
projects together. I wanted people to spend time to teach one another 
looping. I wanted people to have serious, thoughtful, and respectful 
discussions. I wanted it to last. I wanted a community of interested 
to build the whole idea of looping into something much bigger than it was.

I had long observed that mailing lists work very well in forming strong 
communities, and that is what I wanted to do.

So the fundamental format I chose for this nascent looping community is 
mailing list. I set up LD as a bounce list, with the reply-to set to the 
list address. There is no moderation, but you can't post unless you are a 
subscriber. There are no explicit rules about what can be posted. There is 
a web archive that saves all discussion, and makes it freely available to 
the world. (there is also a digest, which I wasn't too thrilled to create 
and still think was a somewhat bad idea.)

All of these choices were made with a lot of thought. Mailing lists have 
continuity. People mostly don't drop in and disappear, they usually stick 
around for a while. Email lists appeal to people's natural inertia. If 
people do nothing, the messages still go to them. So people get to know 
another. Email encourages more thoughtful discussion. Bounce lists are 
active. Lack of moderation encourages more individual sense of ownership 
and responsibility for the community. Reply-to set to the list makes 
a little more chatty and fun. None of these choices were accidents, or 
without purpose. I thought about each one and made the choice in order to 
form the kind of community I envisioned.

And so in 1996 I started Looper's Delight, and a whole bunch of interested 
people showed up and started communicating in a new way, and we all built 
this remarkable community. Looper's Delight is almost 10 years old. We've 
made good friends, we've had numerous great festivals, we've recorded many 
amazing albums, we shared a lot of knowledge, we shared a lot of music, 
we've gone to see one another perform, we guided manufacturers to make 
products for us, we created a huge archive of knowledge, sometimes we've 
argued and disagreed, mostly we've supported each other in all manner of 
ways, and most important, we've developed looping far beyond what any of 
ever thought it could be.

I'm really proud of all that. And I'm really convinced, now more than 
that the choices I made in forming this community were correct. In my 
world, there is no better proof than success.

So no, I'm not at all interested in converting LD into a message board. I 
think that idea is destructive to our community. I also think it is 
to the group when people try to create some separate forum. It always 
like an attempt to split our community up. That's why the reactions from 
many people in the community to these ideas are usually so hostile. People 
like the community we have here. The don't want to see it broken up or 

And by the way, the idea that message boards are somehow more "modern" is 
laughably wrong. As someone else noted, even in the 80's bulletin board 
systems following that approach were very sophisticated. Email was 
relatively primitive at that time, and was little better than a command 
line or unix shell interface. There is not really anything new about 
message boards today other than slicker graphics and php code. Most of 
seem to be actually worse in user interface than the average BBS you could 
have joined 15-20 years ago.


Kim Flint                     | Looper's Delight
kflint@loopers-delight.com    | http://www.loopers-delight.com