If you're of a mind to puzzle over questions like these, I highly recommend a recent essay by Clay Shirky, titled A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy. There, Shirky talks about some non-obvious aspects of group dynamics, and then shows how on-line communities either adapt to group dynamics or don't.
Without giving anything away, Perlmonks does a bunch of stuff right.
Go. Read. Ponder. There's some good stuff there that we'll get back to later.