The life cycle of a list
December 10, 2001 6:31 AM   Subscribe

The life cycle of a list - this isn't new, but i was wondering if anyone agrees with it. From my limited experience, i would have to say it holds true for any lists i have been on.
posted by semper (10 comments total)
It's very true of MemePool groupies. I don't visit the site anymore but twice a month but still stay on the list to kill time on slow days at the office.
posted by revbrian at 6:41 AM on December 10, 2001

That's one pattern. It seems that some lists create the desire in people to meet in person; I think they often follow a slightly different pattern:

1. List created around specific, locally rare interest.

2. People find List, project onto other members all the things they miss in the people they already know but who don't happen to share that interest.

3. People share stories, head-shaking, LOLs; and express how wonderful to have found List.

4. First offline meeting planned. Much hand-wringing over difficulty to find a time everyone can attend. Finally compromise is reached; one or more active List members can't make it.

5. After first offline meeting, List dies out. People not in attendance wait for updates/reports back from people who did attend. People who did attend, disillusioned to discover that other Listers aren't cats' pajamas after all (but only humans), don't have anything good to report back.

6. Occasionally List experiences flurries of discussion around specific, relevant topics.
posted by mattpfeff at 6:45 AM on December 10, 2001

"Smug complacency" versus "Maturity"? There's a much broader spectrum of end results for mailing lists.

A couple (dozen at most) mailing lists that an individual has participated in over the years is not a good sampling, and since he most probably participated in all of these mailing lists himself he was in fact affecting them and so objective observation is impossible.

To do this properly one would need to read literally hundreds of mailing lists, not participate in any, and regularly interview a cross-section of participants off-list in order to gauge their opinions of the lists over time. It would be a massive undertaking. Probably something good for a sociologist to do, or perhaps a historian for documentative purposes. This Michael Forster's findings are flippant at best.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:02 AM on December 10, 2001

mattpfeff, you forgot

7. Active member of list stalked over a period of months, years later found shaken, confused and incoherent in lurker's crawlspace.
posted by Kafkaesque at 8:46 AM on December 10, 2001

dammit Kafka, when will you ever forgive me for that? I swear if you'd only given me back my signed, 1st edition of The Crying of Lot 49 I would have left you alone!
posted by mattpfeff at 9:30 AM on December 10, 2001

posted by kilroy at 10:34 AM on December 10, 2001

this isn't new

semper: MetaFilter tries to be about new, fresh links. This post would probably belong more in metatalk, under metafilter-related, than in metafilter proper (though, given that we've discussed this exact post before on metatalk, it might be a little iffy even there.)
posted by gd779 at 11:04 AM on December 10, 2001

While I've seen several lists follow these types of patterns, I've also belonged to lists that did not. I also admin several large lists which have never degenerated along these lines. The key difference I find is the involvement of the administrator. Weak admins who claim 'this is your list not mine' will often allow the list to meander all over the place rather than stay focused on its chosen topic. A strong (but not tyranical) admin can keep a list both focused and interesting.
posted by EmergencyPenguin at 11:14 AM on December 10, 2001

posted by feelinglistless at 12:16 PM on December 10, 2001

One other conclusion I have often seen: List owner tires of extinguishing flame wars and pulls the plug.
posted by mischief at 12:59 PM on December 10, 2001

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