Paul Graham: What I’ve learned from HN

Got this via Kottke and Gulfstream – Paul Graham has interesting insights on how to run an online community:

“It’s pretty clear now that the broken windows theory applies to community sites as well. The theory is that minor forms of bad behavior encourage worse ones: that a neighborhood with lots of graffiti and broken windows becomes one where robberies occur. I was living in New York when Giuliani introduced the reforms that made the broken windows theory famous, and the transformation was miraculous. And I was a Reddit user when the opposite happened there, and the transformation was equally dramatic.”

Wow. Using Broken Windows theory for an online community! Now that’s classic Paul Graham.

Here’s a review of that theory:

“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

It’s interesting to note that an approach to urban chaos in communities can be applied to an online community as well.

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