Goncharov and a community building masterclass

The past few weeks as the Twitter drama was unfolding, I saw some tweets about moving to Tumblr. I was curious to check if I would spend more time on my Tumblr account if I downloaded the app on my phone.

That worked! I now do spend a lot of time on it. You can follow me on Tumblr at tumblr.com/adityakane.

On it I came across several thousands of post on “Goncharov. 1973” a fictional made up movie.

Poster of the fictional movie "Goncharov"
via tumblr.com/20smthn

This sort of humour and fake fandom is something long time Tumblr users are quite familiar with. It is afterall a website full of fan fiction, legend and myth building.

But as this NYTimes article points out it can be frustrating for outsiders peeking in to make sense of the joke. It can make someone peeking in not getting the joke feel like they are now part of the joke and being laughed at.

And that Tumblr users are avoiding really well, they are breaking character (or so to speak) informing onlookers that this is obviously about a made up fake movie and is just fun myth building, and then they get back into character.

This allows the audience to become participants and joining in the fun. This is really a masterclass at community building.

Freely accessible software should have freely accessible culture

Within open-source communities – community managers and leaders can often find themselves becoming too serious. Their language can become too specific, they in some way become bureaucratic. And let me say that this is not entirely a bad thing.

Every community that is healthy and welcoming, has a lot of invisible work that happens in private. Also a lot of this sort of work requires privacy and people feeling safe.

That said, FOSS communities often have their inside jokes, their traditions and lore that we call culture. And any open-source community should have a culture that like its software is open, hackable and shareable – so new and old friends alike can all be called in.


One response to “Goncharov and a community building masterclass”

  1. I loved how you drew parallels with Goncharov and community management! I agree that some community aspects being “hidden” is a feature not a bug. But the fact that they are hidden, makes you curious as a new user, to find out more. The best open source projects (or communities) make it fun (like what’s happening with Tumblr), thus inviting you in. It’s a fun way to bring more users!

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