Life cycle of a list/forum

Thought this might interest some.

Brent Chapman, who wrote Majordomo [a mailing list server for newsgroups],
wrote the following essay of interest in 1995.

Essay: The Life Cycle of a List

"Every list seems to go through the same cycle:

  1. Initial enthusiasm (people introduce themselves and gush a lot about how wonderful it is to find kindred souls).

  2. Evangelism (people moan about how few folks are posting to the list and brainstorm recruitment strategies).

  3. Growth (more and more people join, more and more lengthly threads develop, occacional off-topic threads pop up).

  4. Community (lots of threads, some more relevant than others; lots of information and advice is exchanged; experts help other experts as well as less experienced colleagues; friendships develop; people tease each other; newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience; everyone – newbie and expert alike-- feels comfortable asking questions,suggesting answer, and
    sharing opinions).

  5. Discomfort with diversity (the number of messages increase dramatically; not every thread is fascinating to every reader; people start complaining about the signal-to-noice ration; person 1 threatens to quit if other people don’t limit discussion to person 1’s pet topic; person 2 agrees with person 1; person 3 tells 1 and 2 to lighten up; more bandwidth is wasted complaining about off-topic threads tna is used for the threads themselves; everyone gets annoyed).

  6. (a) Smug complancency and stagnation (the pursists flame everyone who asks an “old” question or responds with humor to a serious post; newbies are rebuffed; traffic drops to a doze-producing level of a few minor issues; all interesting discussions happen by private email and are limited to a few participants; the purists spend lots of time self-righteously
    congratulating each other on keeping off-topic threads off the list).


(b) Maturity (a few people quit in a huff; the rest of the participants stay near stage 4, with stage 5 popping up briefly every few weeks; many people wear out their second or third “delete” key, but the list lives contentedly every after)."

Cool post. Thought-provoking.

Interesting indeed.

I would say that this board has moved through stage 6 already and is getting back toward stage 3 and 4. . .


A good way of presenting things indeed.

I’d have to agree with you on that 1 stu

People come and go, so there is always a turnover. Always newbies coming an board and old posters leaving. It keeps things in a sort of balance.

IMHO, Billy

I agree there.

This forum went through it’s “use the #$%#%@ search function” phase a little while ago. I’m certain we all remember the wonderful TEK and his helpful links.

Then there was a fairly recent exodus of many of the senior members of the forum, right around the time the pound got dropped. There were a number of reasons for their exodus, some good some not but. . .

There was the US=GG phase, with all the political arguments those seem to have mostly died off.

Now there’s a flood of newbies arriving again, sounds like many are coming over from the Men’s Health forums.

Ah, what interesting times.