Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Makes People Leave Communities in Second Life?

Why do people come to the conclusion that a community, of which they have been a part for a long time, suddenly is not the right one for them? Does it have to do with changed rules, aims or goals, with friends leaving, or simply boredom? I would be really happy if anyone reading this blog, who might have been in this position or know of developments or decisions like these, would post their comments or leave some contact information enabling me to get in touch with you.


Bryan's workshop blog said...

I've been thinking about this all winter, Mia, as I cut back on one community. Several reasons came up there, which might be of use:

1) Decreased learning content. The place used to be more useful for me to find new stuff, and to explore my thinking. The former declined, and the latter seemed to have done so as well.

2) Increased "light" conversation. Participants focused more on humor, non-major incidents in daily life, light entertainment. Often this was described as deliberate, as in "this is the place I go to relax."

3) A sense that the number of other communities and venues had grown enormously, with the explosion in social media.

I'd be happy to say more later, if this is of use.

Mia said...

Thank you, Bryan! I'd really like to talk to you more about this. Why did the learning content decrease for instance? Perhaps we could talk on Skype or so at some point?

Bryan's workshop blog said...

Learning decreasing: competition with other venues for news was one powerful reason, I think. The enormous, growing number of blogs, plus lighter tools (Twitter, Facebook, etc) outcompeted this one site.

Let's keep an eye (or ear) out for each other on Skype.

jeffreybardzell said...

I have a different perspective than Bryan's, which seemed very cognitively oriented. If I understand his perspective correctly, he's arguing that as cognitive content goes down, he's likely to leave. Surely that is true for some, but I would describe much of my social life as "light" in the terms he describes, and I don't walk away from that.

I have left online communities when key members of them also left, or there was a sudden shift in community "feel." Perhaps it got suddenly more--or less--serious (as Bryan suggests), but may also be that participants changed the type/frequency of activities that make up the community's daily life. Perhaps the community split into two communities or a significant faction within the community quit.

In short, whenever there is a critical mass combining habitual social activities and social personas, I experience a community as stable. When that becomes disrupted, there is great risk of departures--mine or those of others.

Mia said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Jeff! I think it's really interesting to see the difference between how you and Bryan approach communities and groups inworld, and your reasons for joining them. I have seen a few similar responses and I think it points to the varying reasons people might have to join and stay in communities, but perhaps also to how they view Second Life — as a social platform or medium — and for what purpose they are "using" it.

Bryan's workshop blog said...

"cognitive"... that wasn't how I thought of my approach, Jeffrey, but is does cover some of the ground. I focus on learning, both formal (within institutions) and informal. Think of getting news from social sources, for example; I treat many communities as news sources.

I like the light level, too, which is something I get (among other things!) from Twitter and Facebook.

Stability... not something I'm after. It's easy to think of communities which are durable, but decreasing in quality.