Has there been anything written, any threads here, any more broadly 'published' articles about the nature of forums that are 'successful'? What would successful mean generally?

I don't know the territory very well.

IMO, IPMS has been successful in various ways. ILC has also been, in different and similar ways.

What affects longevity; is longevity important?

What are the common earmarks, what are common and particular factors that may be contextually dependent.

Anyone know anything about this? Any more generally known factoids about forum continuity, morphings, endings?

Gooday.

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Good questions, Ambo.  As an early adopter of internet forums from the early '90s (from Prodigy, AOL, etc. onwards), and as someone who has created websites with online forums...

Generally, I have not seen much in the way of longevity. People generally follow what's trendy, and they seem to easily move on, even from forums that have been very successful and where (seemingly) deep bonds have been created. 

On the Prodigy Jazz BBS that I originally joined, we did have a small community where we were actually able to move a few times to a few different forum hosts, but eventually participation in the forum gradually declined and then disappeared. However, a number of us are still in contact with occasional email exchanges, and I understand some of them connect a fair amount through that new service - I forget what it's called...  But I drew the line - why move to yet another trendy provider that's just going to eventually start charging money, and then fade away? Oh, I now remember what it's called - MyFace, or Spacebook or something like that.

Hi David.

This sounds like such a huge topic. I'm thinking immediately that there are at least several factors and several approaches to forums' 'success', longevity maybe being one indicator, and not. There are the experiences of the general participants and of the creators, leaders, facilitators, moderators. Some have intentions of varying sorts, purposes, missions, agendas, goals - some more openly exploratory, experimental, generally psychosocial, and such.

How much control is needed and asserted would be somewhat related to closed or open membership, specificity of the above mentioned intentions, the personalities and qualities of the population drawn from, the personalities and qualities of the creator(s).

Behaviors and other perceptions about the forums could be seen of course with integral complexity and through developmental lenses. This would maybe explain some of the seeming and variable character of the forum at any moment. People maybe change and grow, and the forum's container shape and character also. Then the bigger perspectives might be landed upon from time to time referencing the larger societies and cultures and kosmic situations in which a forum rests and writhes.

Though I've riffed around a bit here, with these and more variables, what impressions have you come up with from your own experience of creating these? :)




DavidM58 said:

Good questions, Ambo.  As an early adopter of internet forums from the early '90s (from Prodigy, AOL, etc. onwards), and as someone who has created websites with online forums...

Generally, I have not seen much in the way of longevity. People generally follow what's trendy, and they seem to easily move on, even from forums that have been very successful and where (seemingly) deep bonds have been created. 

On the Prodigy Jazz BBS that I originally joined, we did have a small community where we were actually able to move a few times to a few different forum hosts, but eventually participation in the forum gradually declined and then disappeared. However, a number of us are still in contact with occasional email exchanges, and I understand some of them connect a fair amount through that new service - I forget what it's called...  But I drew the line - why move to yet another trendy provider that's just going to eventually start charging money, and then fade away? Oh, I now remember what it's called - MyFace, or Spacebook or something like that.

Ambo,

Two things come to mind. The first task is to gather a critical mass of participants of enough like mind that they are drawn to engage with one another. I guess that is done by creating attractive content in an attractive format, and doing a good job with promotion.

Secondly, It's always good to have a few parameters and ground rules for how to deal quickly and effectively with "assholes, yahoos, spoilers, whining neurotics and police agents" (Hakim Bey reference).

For my Transition group Ning site, I adopted and adapted the Beams & Struts commenting policy.

Ambo, great questions.  As the "admin" here, I'm definitely interested in hearing what members of IPS look for and what they feel makes a successful forum.  This forum has seen more active days, for certain; the number of active members is way down, and my own participation here has been wanting as well.  The FB IPS sister forum has become so active that it is stealing a lot of my attention.  (I really wish I could get people to move over here to Ning, but it doesn't look like it is going to happen...)  What seems to have kept IPS going is a consistent core of posters (not always the same people), an atmosphere (I hope) where respectful free expression is welcome and ongoing inquiry is valued, a space which can encourage a number of different modes of interaction (both in terms of media and content), and a topic that is rich, nuanced, and relevant enough that it can sustain a number of ongoing inquiries and discussions.  But there may be other factors that are not occurring to me at the moment, or that I've missed...

Hi David - what you suggest sounds to me like a very logical way that forums can be brought into being and maintained. And, it seems to me, depending on how a forum may be constructed or more organically coalesce from existing mutual interests, existing threads of connection and communication, the sort and intensity of organizing and self-protective rules, guidelines, structural beams & struts, may vary.

Maybe later, playing off of your experience and comments here, I'll try to bring in some details that come to mind for me.

DavidM58 said:

Ambo,

Two things come to mind. The first task is to gather a critical mass of participants of enough like mind that they are drawn to engage with one another. I guess that is done by creating attractive content in an attractive format, and doing a good job with promotion.

Secondly, It's always good to have a few parameters and ground rules for how to deal quickly and effectively with "assholes, yahoos, spoilers, whining neurotics and police agents" (Hakim Bey reference).

For my Transition group Ning site, I adopted and adapted the Beams & Struts commenting policy.

Hi Bruce - I can understand you on the Facebook pull on your attention and energy. You are following the action, and, without really knowing the facebook world first hand, there may be something about that techamegalopolis of Facebook that swirls interested and engaging people through your forum(s).

I wonder reoccurringly how best, in a moment of engagement with the topic, to enter the questions and issues and phenomena of an online forum.

There are many metaphors from past, precyber human social grouping, gathering, and interacting. There are almost eons of bio-human nature and tendency that inform what happens in groups. This human nature can and has been analyzed in integral and AQAL ways, though maybe not so much that we have seen specifically about social and purposeful gathering in online forums. It could turn out that the academic disciplines of non-cyber sociology and psychology have already gotten myriad pieces and even extant theories that bear on this, but haven't been harvested and organized in an integral way for this intention of knowing the 'science' of online forums and a 'success'/'failure' value spectrum.

Of course there has been a lot of study around 'leadership', a popular and partly economics motivated topic, and if one were to study extensively its principles, one could maybe design 'forum management strategies." At a glance, that focused purposiveness doesn't sound very appealing to me as I write it. Yet ...

Not to mention, any 'art' of forum nurturing and participation.

There are probably some features and dynamics that are not so different between cyber and 3D flesh worlds, and there are of course some distinctions. As McLuhan brought to prominance, the media is (at least partly) the message. I can imagine that the speed/immediacy at distances, and the reach of the cyber world changes the dynamics a lot.

In this ginormous subject area, I think I'll mention a couple of themes that come forefront, at this moment of writing.

AQAL's right upper quadrant alone, with the zones of interior experience and appraised from outside more as object, brings so much complexity to the question of how forums work. Of the mind-activity-hungry hordes roaming the steppes of facebook (whoa, that got away from me), what are the many impulses, drives, motives, intentions, missions, agendas, goals that propel participation. I guess I should have asked first if there is a membership gate that people must pass through for vetting, to remove the raw wildness of horders.

Whatever the final population, as even on this relatively mature and serious Ning IPMS, there is perhaps a hopping mix of what impels and propels members in their responses. At least, in myself, I sometimes can feel a lively cluster of egoic needs, values, and intentions, as well as masks and obfuscations among the multiple sub-personalities. 

I can feel and imagine in myself affection, aversion, defensiveness, competitiveness, collaboration, hidden rage, opportunism, compassion and generosity - all this personal bio-human beige and infrared and red (and higher) caprices and features. I wonder sometimes about other people, too, and what dynamics hold them in repeating patterns or release them to sorties into new territory. For me, this often invisible landscape, beneath, as Joseph Conrad wrote, something like, "the thin veneer of civilization." Ok, Heart of Darkness was much darker than the landscapes that we and Integral and spiritual forum participants probably inhabit. Ehem. Whoops.

It seems that you have co-created, "an atmosphere (I hope) where respectful free expression is welcome and ongoing inquiry is valued, a space which can encourage a number of different modes of interaction (both in terms of media and content), and a topic that is rich, nuanced, and relevant enough that it can sustain a number of ongoing inquiries and discussions."

Within the population of RUQ possibilities that I have mentioned, there arises, there apparently co-arises with the other quadrants of the whole, drives for "novelty", for completions, for cognitive coherence and consonances, and daring-do's. People get bored. People learn subject areas, object areas, and they are no longer so interested in examining, reexamining, and discussing these. Upper-classmen and upper-classwomen graduate and move on.

This is where the educational and learning theory metaphors kick in for me. People move on when they are full or complete or frustrated, and maybe new people enter. I think I have seen some of this in waves at IPMS and ILC. It is seeming to me, unless a forum creator or unusual participant is desiring to educate, wanting to help the world in this way, for no remuneration, feeling great loyalty and other strong and steady qualities, like patience and perseverance, their interests will wane as well. If they did want to contribute in this way amidst the whirls of their busy lives, they may find ways to keep a forum going. Maybe churches, schools, and intentionally benevolent organizations would be the places that would maintain forums over long times with the comings and leavings, the curious and the sated, the, in a sense, needy and fulfilled, or needy and the frustrated still-needy who move on. I have seen myself in all of these descriptions over the years.

Bruce, David, and all, I'll release this riff and ramble for the moment. Maybe more later.

Any additions, corrections, thoughts?


Balder said:

Ambo, great questions.  As the "admin" here, I'm definitely interested in hearing what members of IPS look for and what they feel makes a successful forum.  This forum has seen more active days, for certain; the number of active members is way down, and my own participation here has been wanting as well.  The FB IPS sister forum has become so active that it is stealing a lot of my attention.  (I really wish I could get people to move over here to Ning, but it doesn't look like it is going to happen...)  What seems to have kept IPS going is a consistent core of posters (not always the same people), an atmosphere (I hope) where respectful free expression is welcome and ongoing inquiry is valued, a space which can encourage a number of different modes of interaction (both in terms of media and content), and a topic that is rich, nuanced, and relevant enough that it can sustain a number of ongoing inquiries and discussions.  But there may be other factors that are not occurring to me at the moment, or that I've missed...

I wonder if I'm a bit dyslexic in a right/left way. Sheesh. I see in my mind Left upper quadrant and I write Right upper quadrant. This is not the first time. Sheesh!



Ambo Suno said:

Hi Bruce - I can understand you on the Facebook pull on your attention and energy. You are following the action, and, without really knowing the facebook world first hand, there may be something about that techamegalopolis of Facebook that swirls interested and engaging people through your forum(s).

I wonder reoccurringly how best, in a moment of engagement with the topic, to enter the questions and issues and phenomena of an online forum.

There are many metaphors from past, precyber human social grouping, gathering, and interacting. There are almost eons of bio-human nature and tendency that inform what happens in groups. This human nature can and has been analyzed in integral and AQAL ways, though maybe not so much that we have seen specifically about social and purposeful gathering in online forums. It could turn out that the academic disciplines of non-cyber sociology and psychology have already gotten myriad pieces and even extant theories that bear on this, but haven't been harvested and organized in an integral way for this intention of knowing the 'science' of online forums and a 'success'/'failure' value spectrum.

Of course there has been a lot of study around 'leadership', a popular and partly economics motivated topic, and if one were to study extensively its principles, one could maybe design 'forum management strategies." At a glance, that focused purposiveness doesn't sound very appealing to me as I write it. Yet ...

Not to mention, any 'art' of forum nurturing and participation.

There are probably some features and dynamics that are not so different between cyber and 3D flesh worlds, and there are of course some distinctions. As McLuhan brought to prominance, the media is (at least partly) the message. I can imagine that the speed/immediacy at distances, and the reach of the cyber world changes the dynamics a lot.

In this ginormous subject area, I think I'll mention a couple of themes that come forefront, at this moment of writing.

AQAL's right upper quadrant alone, with the zones of interior experience and appraised from outside more as object, brings so much complexity to the question of how forums work. Of the mind-activity-hungry hordes roaming the steppes of facebook (whoa, that got away from me), what are the many impulses, drives, motives, intentions, missions, agendas, goals that propel participation. I guess I should have asked first if there is a membership gate that people must pass through for vetting, to remove the raw wildness of horders.

Whatever the final population, as even on this relatively mature and serious Ning IPMS, there is perhaps a hopping mix of what impels and propels members in their responses. At least, in myself, I sometimes can feel a lively cluster of egoic needs, values, and intentions, as well as masks and obfuscations among the multiple sub-personalities. 

I can feel and imagine in myself affection, aversion, defensiveness, competitiveness, collaboration, hidden rage, opportunism, compassion and generosity - all this personal bio-human beige and infrared and red (and higher) caprices and features. I wonder sometimes about other people, too, and what dynamics hold them in repeating patterns or release them to sorties into new territory. For me, this often invisible landscape, beneath, as Joseph Conrad wrote, something like, "the thin veneer of civilization." Ok, Heart of Darkness was much darker than the landscapes that we and Integral and spiritual forum participants probably inhabit. Ehem. Whoops.

It seems that you have co-created, "an atmosphere (I hope) where respectful free expression is welcome and ongoing inquiry is valued, a space which can encourage a number of different modes of interaction (both in terms of media and content), and a topic that is rich, nuanced, and relevant enough that it can sustain a number of ongoing inquiries and discussions."

Within the population of RUQ possibilities that I have mentioned, there arises, there apparently co-arises with the other quadrants of the whole, drives for "novelty", for completions, for cognitive coherence and consonances, and daring-do's. People get bored. People learn subject areas, object areas, and they are no longer so interested in examining, reexamining, and discussing these. Upper-classmen and upper-classwomen graduate and move on.

This is where the educational and learning theory metaphors kick in for me. People move on when they are full or complete or frustrated, and maybe new people enter. I think I have seen some of this in waves at IPMS and ILC. It is seeming to me, unless a forum creator or unusual participant is desiring to educate, wanting to help the world in this way, for no remuneration, feeling great loyalty and other strong and steady qualities, like patience and perseverance, their interests will wane as well. If they did want to contribute in this way amidst the whirls of their busy lives, they may find ways to keep a forum going. Maybe churches, schools, and intentionally benevolent organizations would be the places that would maintain forums over long times with the comings and leavings, the curious and the sated, the, in a sense, needy and fulfilled, or needy and the frustrated still-needy who move on. I have seen myself in all of these descriptions over the years.

Bruce, David, and all, I'll release this riff and ramble for the moment. Maybe more later.

Any additions, corrections, thoughts?


Balder said:

Ambo, great questions.  As the "admin" here, I'm definitely interested in hearing what members of IPS look for and what they feel makes a successful forum.  This forum has seen more active days, for certain; the number of active members is way down, and my own participation here has been wanting as well.  The FB IPS sister forum has become so active that it is stealing a lot of my attention.  (I really wish I could get people to move over here to Ning, but it doesn't look like it is going to happen...)  What seems to have kept IPS going is a consistent core of posters (not always the same people), an atmosphere (I hope) where respectful free expression is welcome and ongoing inquiry is valued, a space which can encourage a number of different modes of interaction (both in terms of media and content), and a topic that is rich, nuanced, and relevant enough that it can sustain a number of ongoing inquiries and discussions.  But there may be other factors that are not occurring to me at the moment, or that I've missed...

Question for theurj:

T - I am glad you are on this forum (you could be called a pillar of the forum), and I have been enriched by the knowledge and inquiring form that you personally, interrelationally, and of course intersubjectively have expressed.

I am aware of the huge content that you have contributed, and not infrequently it could be said, and you have said, that a particular topic has been covered in various ways and to be found on various threads. You have quite often brought these diverging and converging threads together onto a new thread for the organizational pertintinence to the new thread. I wouldn't be surprised to imagine that most relevant topics extant on integral, post-metaphysical, and spirituality, plus plenty more, have been identified, significantly cracked open, conversationally cocreated, and often come to sufficient momentary completion.

You obviously are aware of plenty that I am saying now, in preface to what I think is a well-intentioned question by me.

I am wondering why you are still here posting things?

Any terseness in this question does not feel loaded in any particular direction to me, though I inevitably have my generic and specific speculations on why you would be and are.

I could be asking others here similarly.

It seems to me that an answer could be huge like all integrally complex situations.

Any personal and more distant or more intimate reflections on this?

I'm still here because as I said in my response to your death inquiry, I want to leave a mark. This forum is a main source for that mark.

Within the stream of human time we notice change. Things change, conditions change, circumstances change. It was commented on that we can't step in the same watery stream twice - though the name "stream" may be the same, and though the acuity of our discernment may be dialed back to the range where yesterday I stepped in this stream here beyond the great rock and here I am in the same spot stepping in it again, the water particles and the bits of nature in suspension and solution that make up the stream are actually newer.

Unless our perception and thinking has cast a broader lasso of understanding around a circumstance where the many things seem to be as one.

Or unless temporal flow and spatial distinction seem to have gone mute, and the experience is a less typical human one.

This writing has simply been a somewhat playful preface to and framing of coming back to the changes and potentially imagined life-span of a cyber social forum, in particular Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality.

When I was casually studying the stock market, before high tech had wildly surged and before as much of a cowboy-in-town-for-a-Saturday-night mentality came to be the norm for so many private investors and traders in the 1990s, I'll say, there was a concept and perhaps image schema that was an indicator of how corporate fertility for lively upward change could be speculated upon. It was called the S-shaped curve. On a graph with the horizontal axis ticking off time in months and certainly years, with the dollar value of shares of stock on the vertical axis, growth potential was often perceived or determined to be a reflection of the points and therefore line on the graph. When a company was new, the idea behind the generalizing theory was that growth would be slow as business gained momentum. Then value would rise, often enough in a typical upward curve. Eventually, the growth would level off, plateau, and maybe even begin to decline. The design would look roughly like an S.

Apparently, various technical analysis systems could be applied to graphs to determine with more nuance and more depiction of the complexity of this graphed reality, so that investors and traders could find the sweet spots to "go long", or eventually gaining in popularity, "short". As people learned these patterns and systems of analysis it has gotten progressively more challenging to compete against the increased knowledge base of a more technically educated and computer-assisted public and professional field.

However, returning to the basic S-shaped curve, keeping the image and idea simple for a while, this typical curve may give some sense that we needn't be too surprised that a social structure, a forum in this case, might gain momentum, flourish, and then go flat or decline. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the third reich, US world dominance, an erotically charged relationship going through cycles from incipient romance to marital blossoming to divorce, the vitality of a human embodied life from conception to death. Well, apparently, again, when perceived through a bio culturally calibrated lens, all living things come and go.

Yet, as in the stock market, S-shaped curves can be sometimes connected with prior ones, especially if one is calibrated to such awareness, and there are what could be in retrospect interpreted plunges, re-organizations, mergings, morphings, and atypical expressions of life as can happen between conception and demise.

Seen through some lenses, maybe a mushroom is seen to die and another mushroom pushes out of the ground, close enough to the 'dead' one to make one wonder about whether the graph's activity has flatlined or not.

These large images, perhaps dynamic energetic schemas that may appear repeatedly in human life and the cosmos, these expansive framings, these root metaphors, these ideas, simple and complex, are simply part of where my mind, and perhaps others' minds go when wondering about the vitality, character, and potential longevity of IPMS.

For now.

The S-curve is a good, evocative symbol for the life/activity cycle here -- or the lemniscate of the panarchy cycle.  I'm not certain if this Ning forum is just entering a fallow period, as it has before, or if it is surrendering itself finally to the pull of entropy.  It has given birth to another little mushroom, over on FB, and now that baby towers over its parent in terms of activity and membership (1,172 members there versus 150 here).  So maybe life has "moved on."  But I'm not ready to give up on Ning yet -- and am hoping that she'll flower again with time (and possibly when I have money to invest in a better "package" for the forum, with more features and room for a bigger membership).

Yes, I was also going to bring up the panarchy lemniscate - C.S. Holling's 4 phase entropic cycle.  Boiled down to "what goes up must come down" or "Wash, rinse, repeat." I've come to believe the "law of the earth" refers to the ever present polarity of expansion and contraction. Impermanence by any other name.  

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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