Dunbar’s number for communities

(From the blog post)

Ian Vanagas writes:

Dunbar’s number is the cognitive limit of the number of stable relationships someone can have. It is commonly known as 150, although the practical number for a community is lower because people always have relationships elsewhere. 150 is the max where a large amount of time is being spent on “social grooming….

”Without physical constraints, communities can be created easily and grow rapidly. They can quickly reach and pass Dunbar’s number without realizing it. In-person communities can see and hear problems through overcapacity, noise, and complaints. Internet communities often don’t have these signs. Members leave without a reason, and problems don’t get handled.

I have been managing some communities for over a decade. We find our discussions collegial, made friends and transformed relationships – even though we are separated by time and distance. The success for a community depends on how much value extraction is possible from those who post and clear ground rules. Real life hierarchies don’t work well in the digital era. For most users, they are unable to visualise the way groups interact. Twitter may be “liberating” but your interaction depends on your tone/tenor/algorithmic weighting that pushes “negative tones” more. The visibility on Twitter, for example, happens more for those who conform to the acceptable narrative or agenda.

Either way, I don’t understand the need for “digital currency” because those tweets don’t build ideas or institutional frameworks. As much as I may be a “techno-geek” (which I am not), I can’t follow the onslaught of the rapid responses/like posts during a journal club. It is much better to follow visual indicators (as in Telegram).

This is interesting:

Choosing a platform is important, among many other reasons, because it provides structural solutions to growth. The structure of the platform creates the behavior that happens there. Some platforms have more options and customizability than others. Certain structures allow for better conversation at larger sizes, better overview of activity, or better facilitation of connections. As a community grows past Dunbar’s number, the structure becomes especially important….

Channels might be the right decision if the goal is real-time and create casual conversation. They work well when topic areas split easily. If neither of these is the case, exploring another structure may be a better option. Luckily, there are many platforms and options to explore. Being able to tailor these platforms to specific use-cases is becoming easier, meaning better structures are being found.

The linked write up offers no real insight in a firm conclusion, but leaves it vague around Dunbar number. Nevertheless, I have found success and merit in creating Telegram communities. I find Slack (and Discord) useless for my optimised workflows (including bots with limited APi’s). They are built with a different purpose and Telegram has implemented several UI fixes in recent updates to make it more meaningful.

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