Mixing Communities is Like Mixing Groups of Friends

If you’ve ever introduced two groups of friends which you normally don’t hang out with at the same time you may have noticed some awkwardness. One group may think you’re this really outgoing and wild person while the other thinks you’re reserved and quiet, as in mixing your college buddies with your co-worker friends.

I’ve found that this is the same when you try to cross between communities on the Internet. With social interactions in real life there are subtle things that can make a difference, tone of voice, body language, etc. With Internet communities there are still norms but to my observations they’re more codified. In forums, for example, the way threads are created for certain topics and the way threads are commented on can vary from community to community.

I’ve been an active member on a number of enthusiast sites for a long while. I recently got a dose of this awkward interaction when trying to crossover the styles of Android forum posting on XDA to the RC forum RCGroups. On XDA posts about an application or ROM are normally the topic dejur. When posting about your project the first post contains a lengthy description. Generally the author will immediately post two replies to their thread, once for updates and another for changes. Otherwise it is considered rude to double post, when someone posts and then immediately posts another reply. The convention is to edit your previous post. One of the most important things for these development or project threads is that the original post be updated so that information is kept up-to-date in a central location for the topic.

On RCGroups the structure is much less important. From my observations the posts there are more conversational. This is not a problem, just different convention. There is no single post containing the sum of knowledge on the thread. Posts can get wildly off-topic and there is little to no moderator intervention to clean the thread. Sometimes users will post in a stream of thought manner having double or even triple posts. Again, this isn’t a problem just different manner of communicating.

Recently I’ve taken up a project to build an Android application which will read Spektrum telemetry output. I’ve decided to chart my progress on the project on RCGroups until I have a beta testable app. When there is something ready for outside help it will make it to XDA. What really brought me into this thought was that when creating and posting to my thread it has been relatively dormant. I have one outside reply. The need for this app is important. I all to often see people ask why there isn’t an Android app that fits this need. My thought is that bringing the style of posting about a project from XDA to RCGroups is like introducing your college partying buddies to your after work co-worker friends. You can go out and have a beers and a good time with either group, but they see different sides of you so creating an amalgamation of those presented individuals may make it awkward for everyone.

Perhaps there isn’t lack of interest in my app, it’s just that RCGroup members don’t know or understand how to fit into the conversation. I’m not sure. One thing I do know, I don’t like talking to a wall. I’ve kind of accepted the fact with this blog. It’s just too general interest to get anyone’s attention. However, within a niche group of people with the same hobby, RC airplanes, I feel that my topic should hold some sort of weight and therefore not be something so easily dismissed. It’s my cry for attention.

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About Mike

I'm a software engineer. Look into the about page for more information about me.

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