It’s occurred to be today that there may be something missing in the rush to conquer the hot new social side of the internet. When I think of community, I think of a group of people all working together, unified in a common goal or purpose. One of the major features of a successful community is that people tend to contribute in a variety of ways. For instance, there would be a blacksmith, baker, teacher, trash collector, general store owner, etc… Not everyone is a blacksmith, not everyone is a teacher.
Similarly, in the case of the social content sites I generally cover here, Digg and Netscape, there is little of this going on. Here is the breakdown of each site:
At Digg, the fragmenting of the community into different jobs probably exists, though on a small scale. Basically, you can choose whatever job you want and try your best at it. In my estimations, not everyone does what is best for the community. Some people submit spam stories, some people bury things inappropriately, some people trash up the comments area, and the majority of people just pass on through Digg just to look.
For Netscape, the story is a bit different. As with Digg, you can choose whatever job you want, though there are a smaller number of duties carried out by the general population. Any user can submit, but there are specific users designated to keep the place tidy. The Navigators and Anchors keep the place clean from spam, duplicate stories, and trashy comments.
Given the ~2 year history of the social news arena, it seems as if Netscape has moved toward the traditional community model. This is not to say that Netscape is superior to Digg or anything, because I enjoy both sites, and they obviously appeal to different types of people. What I am saying is that social news seems to be progressing toward a more traditional idea of community.
However, the majority of the population seems to be rather apathetic to helping the common good. When this happens it is necessary to give the individual increased control and more powerful tools for personal use. Hopefully the next generation of sites will give this to us.