When I think of this question, I think of the old tongue twister: “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” Or to translate; “how many clicks should a fan site have if the “fan” site should have clicks?” I know my version isn’t very clever and doesn’t really twist anyone’s tongue, but the question seems valid.
The point is, controversy and arguing get’s more clicks and comments on a website than straightforward and truthful reporting. This comes as no surprise as most of us know that the mainstream news media outlets all benefit from exploiting this characteristic of human nature; the news is almost universally negative, and sensational stories get more attention.
If you are not aware, we still have the same “lizard brain” we had when we began walking upright.
In fact, the human brain has not changed much in the past 45,000 years or so since we began to look like we do today. You may be aware that 45,000 years is hardly even worth mentioning because in “geological time,” it’s a mere “flash in the pan.” Actually; the universe is some 13.7 Billion years old and the earth is about 4.5 Billion years old and many of the species you see around you today are millions of years old with some, like sharks, being about 400 million years old. Consider a species that has successfully survived for 400 million years? That IS success!
But what’s the point of this “historical overview?” The point is, the amygdala, that pre-historic part of the brain that sits atop the spinal cord at the center of our brains, is the same as it was so many years ago in the paleolithic era, before we began living in communities and farming, and long before the written word or the industrial revolution. We are still chemically subject to the same “instinctive” reactions we had when we were evading dinosaurs and living as hunter-gatherers. The point is our brains (minds) simply do not sense gradual, systemic change, they sense immediate, drastic change that could be potentially dangerous NOW. This is how we are “geared” at an “instinctive” or biochemical level. Thus, things that are dangerous or alarming will catch our attention whereas anything else gets relegated to the background.
This worked to our advantage when we were living in an environment where we were prey or potential prey for a vast number of large predators, but today, this type of sense-perception largely works against us. This phenomenon is aptly depicted in the news outlets and how they present the news to us and what news they chose to present. Ever wonder why the weather is almost universally the linchpin of a local news TV broadcast? They know everyone will wait to see what the weather is going to be because the weather is immediate and potentially dangerous or at least a potential hassle. Maybe a better analysis of this negative slant on the news is the content. Check your average news outlet and count the number of tragic, upsetting stories versus the number of positive, uplifting stories; I bet you’ll see the negative vastly outweighs the positive!
To get back on course, this relates to technology blogs, forums, and news outlets because these outlets get paid advertising revenue to make money. They don’t charge the members to join (potential subject of another post… ), and they get paid commensurate with the number of different eyeballs that see their site. Obviously, there’s some formula the ad agencies use, but as you can imagine, a site with lot’s of activity, particularly lot’s of visits by different people, has a better chance of getting the advertiser’s brand in front of a buyer, so that site get’s paid more.
When you put all this together, you get a swirling vortex of negativity where technology blog sites are financially encouraged to create or at least allow, controversy and conflict in their forums and blog comments. This drives up activity as people get emotionally charged up and get into arguments with each other and this draws even more people into the “discussion.”
Maybe this is obvious to everyone, so what’s the bottom line? I think a site that purports to be a fan site, and that moderates their forums accordingly, may not have the highest levels of activity or have activity that approaches that of the negative/controversial/sensational sites. But this should be OK! People should be OK with a site with a more upbeat, albeit “chill” ambiance, because what you get in return is: 1) a refreshing, and often more objective, look at the news, 2) supportive forums where you’re not afraid to ask a question because you’re not made to feel “dumb,” or where you’re 3) not afraid to participate in because you don’t have to worry about endless arguing with people who may not even be users of your technology, much less “fans,” and a 4) you get a community you actually enjoy engaging on a regular, even daily, basis.
Let’s face it; technology blog sites are not for the primary purpose of delivering technical information. Whether it’s the blogs or the forums, these sites are primarily or substantively, social media sites that people visit regularly because they enjoy the community and rapport they have with other members (more on this in a future post).
So if you’re at a site that gives you objective information about BlackBerry with a “glass is half full” mentality, and there are forums available to ask questions and help others, don’t worry if the site doesn’t have a hundred thousand users or whatever, and don’t be concerned if it doesn’t have a store with lot’s of phone cases, or hundreds of forum threads. Appreciate it for what it is; a diamond in the rough! And by all means get involved with it, it’s only as good as the members!
Now, where could one find a site like this….?