14 Sep 2000 eskimoses   » (Journeyer)

A number of people have commented lately that they don't feel like they deserve their certification. I'm not quite as concerned about this as some have expressed, for these reasons:

  • I think there's room here at Advogato for more than just active contributors to OSS. I say this somewhat selfishly, since I don't participate actively in OSS design, development, or testing. I think, however, that there is scope for open-source "philosophers", into which category I'd place myself -- people able and willing to speak at length on open-source (and contribute to it through their participation in Advogato discussions), but who in general don't participate otherwise.
  • A community is what the community defines itself to be, not what it has been decreed to be by its founder(s). I've been continuing to ponder the notion of online communities and technological controls on the communities. I think what I wanted most to avoid was the degradation of a community into spam, trolling, etc. But what I failed to consider is that communities are vibrant, dynamic entities with a personality of their own that is independent of the personalities participating in it. The more restrictions and conditions that are imposed on a community, the more it will chafe under those restrictions. I think growth and death are key elements of any community. At least, "death" in the sense that it shifts from the founding intent, perhaps to the extent that the founders jump ship. What I'm saying is that if the community decides on a particular attitude towards certification, that is not inherently "wrong". (Note: I would argue that perhaps stronger preconditions should be used to justify the metric's bumping people to a higher level. However, I wouldn't argue with any individual's choice to certify any other individual.)

I would speculate that someday, Advogato will become too big for its britches (some people probably already are starting to feel this way). Yes, there will probably be stop-gap measures, like a diary "favorites" list to only show you the diary entries you want to see (someday the diary list will be completely recycled in a matter of hours, I'd bet). But enough people will become dissatisfied that they set up additional communities elsewhere, and life goes on. I don't think that's bad -- I think it's a good and healthy progression in the life of communities and their participants. It's necessary to keep the flow of new and exciting ideas going.

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