|There's more than one way to do things|
Let's Make It Happen!by nysus (Curate)
|on Jun 28, 2001 at 06:55 UTC||Need Help??|
Community Sites Make a Comeback
November 20, 2002
As large companies and users continue the struggle to find value in their million-dollar internet ventures, a small but rapidly growing number of web entrepeneurs are discovering that there is real gold in the virtual hills. No one is getting rich but some are unearthing nuggets with the electronic equivalent of a pix axe and a pan---the community web site. Over the past year, there has been a resurgence in community sites, one of the oldest forms of internet communication used on the world wide web, and it seems netizens are even willing to pay for it. "We're getting back to what the internet is all about," states vroom, a software engineer and web developer who designs community site software. "The internet was built primarily to support human transactions, to help us swap ideas and thoughts with our peers. We're proud to make the technology that can help make that happen."
vroom's first site, www.perlmonks.org, is seen as one of the perfectors of "peer reviewed posting" systems, where members of the community can vote on messages posted by other members. Authors of messages of great interest and value to the community gain rank and status while those who misbehave or add little to the discussion are swiftly punished. "We think our voting system is a big reason behind the success of PerlMonks," says vroom. "Like democracy, it isn't perfect but it basically works and keeps most users happy." PerlMonk's caters to programmers interested in using Perl, a programming language used mostly for internet applications and with which PerlMonk's is written.
Other sites employing such peer review systems report similar success. Indeed, many experts say it is the sole reason they've been able to thrive. To the chagrin of early internet adoptors, the popularity of the internet in the 90s brought about the demise of online communities as the signal to noise ratio of good posts to bad posts became intolerable for many users. Discussions quickly disintegrated into dehumanizing name-calling, and random ramblings of users who felt little connection to other readers. But if trends continue, online communities may once again thrive---and make a profit, too.
PerlMonks, for instance, uses a voluntary donation to help cover bandwidth costs and makes enough to keep vroom satisfied. "I haven't been able to quit my day job, but it's nice not to have to worry about overtime. The site pretty much runs itself now so it's definitely worth keeping it around."
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I think we can all agree that PerlMonks is a special place. It is the best damn thing I have ever found on the internet. So as of now, I'm installing a link in my sig to take visitors directly to the Offering Plate. I encourage you to do the same (do try to be more creative). You may make vroom famous. If not, he'll at least get a couple six packs out of the deal.
$PM = "Perl Monk's";