Skip to comments.Internet Forums and Social Dynamics, Part III: Getting Back to Basics, or, Donít Be So Acidic
Posted on 01/08/2012 8:47:40 AM PST by grey_whiskers
In Internet Forums and Social Dynamics: Part I: Everybody is someone elses weirdo, I dealt with the issue of self-selection on internet discussion groups, using Free Republic as an example. I explained that people who share values tend to evaluate newcomers to see if they are truly members of the group or not, by analogy to well-known statistical methods, before deciding whether to accept them or not. In Internet Forums and Social Dynamics: Part II: Snapbacks, I discussed the often humorous process by which people sound one another out, and the fireworks which oftentimes result when a person is suddenly perceived -- and for good -- to have violated core beliefs of a dominant group. In pictorial form, it can be summarized as follows:
The current piece again considers the issue of dominance of chat rooms and or internet forums, but this time, the problem is not one of ideological blinders getting in the way of communication, but a more fundamental aspect of assemblies of people in general -- that of shared culture, assumptions, and language. Incidentally, just as Part I borrowed a page from Statistics, this piece borrows a page from Chemistry. (And oddly enough, one of the comments in the discussion from Part I will act as both a segue and an example of the current topic). In Part I, I introduced the concept of Students t-test: a formal methodology by which one can examine two disparate sets of data, and decide (with 95% confidence, or 99%, or whatever) that the quantity measured in each of two different data sets must really be measuring the same thing, that is, that the overlap of the curves drawn by the datasets is not due to blind luck. Now the fact that I mentioned this led to two interesting results: first, a FReeper named APatientMan asked me about the F-test which I used to segue into the F-bomb Test in Part II; and then the FReepers who_would_fardels_bear and bvw began asking me about homoskedacity and haranguing me on the overuse of the bell curve. Second, in the meantime, some of the other posters devolved into a Food Fight, exhibiting the very snapbacks mentioned in Part II. And it is the juxtaposition of these two types of responses which I wish to consider.
In the field of Chemistry, when one is considering the behaviour of acids and bases when dissolving in another substance. To take the example of a strong acid (hydrochloric acid) in water:
HCl + H2O --> A- + H3O+
or for a strong base (sodium amide) in water:
H2O + NH2- --> OH- + NH3
No acid can be stronger than H3O+ in water (instead of the H+ you would expect of a strong acid, you only get the H3O+); nor can a base be stronger than OH- in water (instead of the NH2- acting as a base, the OH- is the base in the products.)
The point of this is, in any discussion group, there is a more or less common level of sophistication, of knowledge, of background. Posters who enter a thread and are considerably less sophisticated than the mainstream generally either come up to speed quickly, or run away, trying to find someone their own level. Similarly, if a thread is very light-hearted or unsophisticated, someone who comes in with far more background than most posters, or using far more sophisticated language, is either cut down to size -- or leaves to find people he can relate to.
And so it was illustrated on the earlier threads -- even though a couple of very-well informed FReepers tried to bring up germane topics, the level at which they wished to discuss was far above the general level of the thread, so the topic petered out. It is also interesting that in a particular forum, there is a general level of education, sophistication, what have you, in common, and the threads which do not hold to the common characteristics are shunted off to a side forum, or die out from lack of interest and participation. This feature or characteristic of groups of people can be used to differentiate groups of different interests as well as erudition, even though these two items are not the same; not only that, but specialists within a field, or of different political persusasions, may willingly mistake or confuse the two, so that reading (say) The New York Slimes is proof of higher intellect than reading Iowahawk. (A good refutation of this is Iowahawks takedown of statistics in Longhorns 17, Badgers 1, Badgering the Witless, and Fables of the Reconstruction.)
Oh, and just to be repetitively redundant -- one of the main causes of snapbacks is when someone on a thread or discussion groups adopts the mannerisms or sophistication of the main group for a time, and then lets their mask slip; or, even worse, they do that at the same time that they admit some of their core values are different than what had been assumed by their initial cultural fit.
In that case, let the snapbacks begin, and watch out for highly exothermic reactions!
*PING* (told you it was coming back up soon).
A rabbit out of the hat!
LOLOL! Thank you so much for the ping, dear grey_whiskers!
I’m sorry. I laughed at the little black and white cat getting pounced on. As far as statistics go, you know what they say.
“Figures lie and liars figure and if you lie down with figures, you’ll get fleas or at least the norm and what does Norm have to do with this?”
I don’t have to worry about being acidic.....I’m a bass player.
I saw this earlier — do I get credit next time for being IB4TP like DUmmie FUnnies?
None of us is as smart as all of us.
I read and learn, sometimes I pass along wit/wisdom/experience from my own field.
Sometimes I keep my head down and my mouth shut.
It’s always interesting.
Thanks for this!
As a noob, I’ve found that some FReepers are very nice about posting links when I indicate cluelessness. Unfortunately, one of the most supportive FReepers was suspended/banned. :(