Surviving an "eternal September" how an online community managed a surge of newcomers

Charles Kiene, Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Benjamin Mako Hill

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present a qualitative analysis of interviews with participants in the NoSleep community within Reddit where millions of fans and writers of horror fiction congregate. We explore how the community handled a massive, sudden, and sustained increase in new members. Although existing theory and stories like Usenet's infamous "Eternal September" suggest that large influxes of newcomers can hurt online communities, our interviews suggest that NoSleep survived without major incident. We propose that three features of NoSleep allowed it to manage the rapid influx of newcomers gracefully: (1) an active and well-coordinated group of administrators, (2) a shared sense of community which facilitated community moderation, and (3) technological systems that mitigated norm violations. We also point to several important trade-offs and limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2016 - Proceedings, 34th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages1152-1156
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781450333627
DOIs
StatePublished - May 7 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event34th Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2016 - San Jose, United States
Duration: May 7 2016May 12 2016

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Other

Other34th Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose
Period5/7/165/12/16

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

Keywords

  • Newcomers
  • Norms and governance
  • Online communities
  • Peer production
  • Qualitative methods

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