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tsunami: technical problems vs. social problems

Luke Breuer
2008-12-22 01:26 UTC

There is worry that I am attempting to solve social problems with technical solutions. In particular, I have noted that I want tsunami to foster a community.

I think you're missing the big issue here is that communities are hard, and no amount of software makes this significantly easier. If you want a coherent vision for tsunami, you need to focus on the feasable and obvious improvements.

I definitely see that SA, to the extent that it does work (and it worked pretty well in the past), was due to moderation and draconian forum rules (like no AOL-speak).

I'm not sure I agree about there being no ways to make X significantly easier through technology. One of the biggest problems I have with every form of electronic communication is that the end product of discussions is painful to read. There is a lot of noise*, and refinement that happened over the course of the discussion can only be attained by re-reading the whole discussion, even if some of it is obsolete.

* By "noise", I mean anything that distracts from someone attempting to understand what they're reading. Common forms:
  • excessive quoting
  • extraneous junk that has no informational content, such as avatars

A lot of technical writing available on the web is just plain crap. I preformed an experiment in writing five tutorials. If you look at my search term analysis, you will see that these five tutorials are in the top 6 pages on my website referred to by search engines. You can test this out yourself by looking at the most common searches and trying some of them.

My point here is not to brag. It is to say with a bit of concerted effort, I was able to make web pages that are now in the top 10 results of the major search engines — a few in the #1 spot. What I did with those tutorials was to aggregate useful information and present it in a useful manner. I think a community could be formed around the idea of generating spectacular content, and I think I can create technical tools that will greatly aid the process of generating said quality of content.