Healthy Size

Too big is noisy. Too small is useless.

First of all, I am very pleasantly surprised with how many people have subscribed to reading my random thoughts, the open rate, and the click-through rates on what I hyperlink in each issue.

Thank you very much!

I am still unsure what the best time to shoot you all the issue is. That’s going to require a fair bit of experimentation on my part.

Alright, let’s get to today’s topic.

I am not in the camp that thinks Facebook is evil. Imagine a very very big town hall. Picture yourself being one of the thousands of people in it. It is scary, chaotic and noisy. You can’t really force everyone to behave a certain way or talk about only a few topics that you find acceptable in a fashion that you think is acceptable. Now, imagine millions of people. Facebook has two billion of us. Twitter has three hundred million of us. Having such a massive town hall is simply unprecedented.

It is pretty simple to understand why a lot of conversations are moving either offline or to private channels. If you have ever tried to build an online community, you would know how it gets extremely difficult to make sure you don’t hit a point of diminishing returns with every new member.

Sar Haribhakti@sarthakgh

Over time, I have grown to increasingly appreciate these 3 posts & have struggled w finding a balance.

The Sound of Silence by @jesslivingston https://t.co/O1NzXsXHFy

Keep Your Identity Small by @paulghttps://t.co/9vmno47WIG

Nobody Cares by @Altimor https://t.co/uQmn51NYOE

August 4, 2018
I increasingly think the problems of massive social networks are human problems. Not tech problems. It is simpler to be an asshole online than offline. I bet most of those people with egg head profile pictures on Twitter are fairly decent people in real life. Being online imposes very little cost to us when we hate on others.

How do we increase the cost of being an asshole online? That’s seems like at interesting design problem. But, I don’t think that’s the only question we should be exploring. The more important question seems to be whether it is time to optimize for something other than number of people on a network when it comes to growing social networks online. A large part of having social networks online is to discover people we otherwise wouldn’t. If that’s not one of the main goals, social networks could just be group texts with people we already know in real life. But, that seems very limiting in this day and age. So, how do we balance meeting new people with not making it easy for folks to be assholes?

Smaller networks like StackOverflow enable strangers to connect with each other over shared interests. One is less likely to be a jerk online if he or she knows that the person on the other side is interested in the same thing as him or her. Is the future of social networks strictly based on shared interests? If yes, that would be very limiting because how would we explore new things that we never thought we would be interested in?

I honestly have no great answer. What I strongly believe in is that blaming teams running major social networks is not the answer. That is very counterproductive. I also think that being able to enforce the social norms online is part of the solution.

Let me know if you have any ideas or resources in this regard.