Please provide a short (approximately 100 word) summary of the following web Content, written in the voice of the original author. If there is anything controversial please highlight the controversy. If there is something surprising, unique, or clever, please highlight that as well. Content: Title: Attacked from Within (2009) Site: 1 — Community, society, diversity and stasis According to the mythology we've received from the neckbeards we find squirreled away in server rooms, Eternal September turned the Internet from a place of constructive conversation and engagement into an endless and unwinnable war against trolls, griefers, crapflooders, spammers, and the 13-15-year-old demographic. Antediluvian John Allen (in the linked video above) makes what are now risible claims about "Internet": There's an interesting kind of restraint that you find. There's not a lot of cursing or swearing. There's not a lot of personal cuts. There's not a lot of put-downs that one would expect to find. There's not screenfulls of "go to hell." It's surprising. The kind of liberation is mixed . It's interesting because one would think, if you're anonymous, you'd do anything you want . But people in a group have their own sense of community and what we can do. The thing that I'm always left with, when I leave, is this overwhelming desire for people to be rooted, and the only way they feel rooted is through another person . And if this is the way, the only way maybe, that they can talk to somebody, this is how they'll do it. The problem that Eternal September presented to this command-line Eden was one of growth and socialization . When it was just the yearly influx of freshman gaining Internet access for the first time, the socialization task was manageable. But with the flick of a switch, AOL unleashed millions of their internet-with-training-wheels subscribers on Usenet. The flood of new users ran roughshod over sys-admins' individual moderation capabilities in disregard for their established notions of civil vs. rude behavior. More significantly, AOL users overran the ability of the communities themselves to socialize newcomers by example, hints, rebuke, and frustrated injunctions to " lurk moar !" Clay Shirky , dubious internet commentator who has somehow scammed a job at NYU teaching "new media," calls this an " attack from within ": [A]ttack from within is what matters. Communitree wasn't shut down by people trying to crash or syn-flood the server. It was shut down by people logging in and posting, which is what the system was designed to allow. The technological pattern of normal use and attack were identical at the machine level, so there was no way to specify technologically what should and shouldn't happen. Some of the users wanted the system to continue to exist and to provide a forum for discussion. And other of the users, the high school boys, either didn't care or were actively inimical. And the system provided no way for the former group to defend itself from the latter. The problem faced by online forums in a post-Eternal September world was not a technological problem, because the system was working as designed. It was a social problem. Community disintegrated as the scope of their world widened following the technological baptism of the television-classes. German, pragmatist , neo-Marxist, critical theorist, and possessor of a rather large nose , Jürgen Habermas is most famous for his concept of the 'public sphere.' Like John Allen's Usenet Eden, and the fall from grace represented in the Eternal September , Habermas described the fall from grace experienced by the liberal public sphere of the Enlightenment . The public sphere was a space within which people of varying backgrounds could come together to discuss the issues, problems, and culture of the commonweal. It was a space for reason and public criticality. But, significantly, it was also a place in which bourgeois and aristocrats came together as if they did not have social class differences and therefore different personal interests in the public problems under debate. Their ability to come together as if they did not have class or social interests was premised on the exclusion of the vast majority of society: women, workers, peasants, conservative nobles, slaves, etc. The pre-September 1993 Usenet can be seen as such a public sphere, before the baptism of the lower classes. Sixteen years hence, the 'as if' problem still remains: how do we organize ourselves civilly if we let just anybody join in? German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies first investigated the difference between 'community' and 'society' (respectively, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft ). Small groups can exist in a sense of organic community, not requiring formal rules because a sense of common mores or norms unite them. Personal relationships can be cultivated and are quite strong, and there is little need for external enforcement. John Allen's quaint description of early Usenet illustrates Tönnies' idea of community. Larger groups find community hard to sustain. Individual interest rules behavior rather than common mores. Society, as opposed to community, is based on explicit rules that require enforcement. Society possesses greater flexibility and potentially more capability, but individuals are subject to greater anomie and anti-social behavior. Internal factional conflicts occur more frequently, despite the greater modularity of individuals' function in society. The internet is still dealing with the problem of community collapse. Each site that attempts to build community and grow in size inevitably reaches this tipping point in which socialization into community is no longer possible. Community mores and identity breaks down into society, conflicts between old and new users increase. Those committed to the identity of the site follow two options: form an oligarchy or flounce . Slashdot used moderation and 'karma' in order to defeat trolling, but ended up creating insufferable groupthink magnified by braindead editor -controlled story selection. Kuro5hin quickly gave up on effective moderation, 'mojo,' and trusted users , ending up in a trollocaust flameout and extended undeath. 4chan's /b/ has suffered from uncontrollable, metastasizing, cancerous newfags . Digg's owners have deliberately expanded from a tech 'community' to a general interest 'society,' and abetted the continued existence of 'power users' and 'bury brigades' gaming the system in order to control the front page. Dunbar's number is one anthropologist's attempt to define the threshold beyond which community is no longer cognitively possible. Various numbers are proposed—150, 230, 290—but the key point is that the capabilities of a community's members to sustain social relationships determines its ultimate size. Face-to-face relationships obviously have different requirements for their maintenance than do online relationships. As such, Dunbar's number (if indeed the concept is itself valid) ought to face different hurdles in scaling online than in the Pleistocene societies that Robin Dunbar studied—notwithstanding The Economist 's recent defense of Dunbar-on-the-web . (An interesting side note, trolltrack notes that monthly diary usage for the last two years on k5 has been between 120 and 150 users, lending some credence to Dunbar's number.) Our own LilDebbie asserts that community doesn't scale . It's painful to admit that, to a limited degree, he's right. But his absolute statement should be qualified: community doesn't scale easily or rapidly . In between taking bong hits, griefing Scifags , and running for Senate, Debs realized that k5 has reduced in scale from society to community, whereas Slashdot remained a society in which "Community doesn't matter [because] the comment and article volume is too great for any single voice to carry over the wave." Society scales easily because users are interchangeable, community scales with difficulty because relationships and identity are not interchangeable. 2 — Shii contra Shirky Thinking about the community and society problems faced by online forums, we run into two opposing conceptions of identity: persistent identity and anonymity. Although there are a number of advocates for either position, on many different grounds, I'm going to choose two different representatives here to stand in: Clay Shirky and Shii . Most respectable forums implement an identity system. Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Advogato, Wikipedia, Digg and so on down the line. The thinking is twofold: People prefer having an identity, keeping track of their comments and friends, and adorning their userpages with links and avatar pictures; and, Persistent identities allow for effective control through moderation rewards and penalties. Localroger and Delirium argued over Shirky's article before, but I think a brief recapitulation of its central points are in order. Shirky argues that three things must be accepted when building a successful, long-term community: "You cannot completely separate technical and social issues." "Members are different than users." "The core group has rights that trump individual rights in some situations." So, to a degree, the community structure is reducible to the technological structure. However, behaviors and uses that cannot be accounted for or 'solved' by changes to that technological base will always emerge. Shirky's formula is weighted toward preserving the community rather than embracing the society conception of online forums. His advice is to choose preserving existing forms of interaction even if it means suppressing new forms. The technological base that he advocates is a strong system of persistent identity (although he prefers saying 'handle' instead of 'identity'). There are four components: "Handles the user can invest in... It's pretty widely understood that anonymity doesn't work well in group settings, because 'who said what when' is the minimum requirement for having a conversation... There has to be a penalty for switching handles. The penalty for switching doesn't have to be total... I have to lose some kind of reputation or some kind of context." "You have to design a way for there to be members in good standing. Have to design some way in which good works get recognized... You can do more sophisticated things like having formal karma or 'member since.'" "You need barriers to participation. This is one of the things that killed Usenet. You have to have some cost to either join or participate, if not at the lowest level, then at higher levels. There needs to be some kind of segmentation of capabilities." "Spare the group from scale. Scale alone kills conversations, because conversations require dense two-way conversations. In conversational contexts, Metcalfe's law is a drag." The political science terms for what Shirky is trying to say are ' asset specificity ' and ' selective incentives .' Users need to earn non-portable assets on an individual basis as a reward for constructive contributions to the community. Unfortunately for Shirky, most of these suggestions have already been implemented in traditional forums and have been found wanting. First, handles do not prevent any negative, community-destroying behavior. Nor do rewards for good behavior. This is due to the possibilities for multiple identity syndrome inherent in interacting online. We here at k5 represent a malignant example of duplicate accounts engaging in trolling, griefing, crapflooding, shitposting and all other forms of destructive behavior. Dupe accounts, much like the shady accounting practices that allowed Enron to shift all its losses onto the balance sheets of fictive subsidiary corporations , allow the user's principal account to retain any specific incentives for constructive behavior while shifting all of the negative moderation and other penalties off onto the dupes. Second, barriers to participation, even relatively minor ones like requiring an account, prevent community growth (and maybe even $300 million in sales ). This is, of course, their designed function. Ever since k5 became a gated dysfunctional community we've experienced the slow communal constriction that effective barriers to participation create. While the barrier has solved problematic dupes for the most part (since no one seems to want to waste $5 on an account that will rapidly be banned), it hasn't solved the existing self-destructive behavior that drives away both new users and disaffected old users, see for example: [1] [2] [3] [4] . Once given over to griefers and trolls, it's unclear that normal users will ever return— bad money drives out good . Shirky's final point on scale is similar to the difference between community and society, discussed above. Once too many people are involved, the ability to have unenforced norms and communal links between users breaks down. As users become interchangeable in their interactions with one another, 'community' collapses into 'society.' He lauds LiveJournal 's clustering of users into soft groups, gives a hat tip to Rusty's favorite site which just closes the gates at arbitrary intervals, and notes that IRC and mailing lists are self-regulating insofar as people come and go as they please (a truly profound insight into scaling problems). Kuro5hin has been through the " should we form sub-communities " question before, and never seriously considered it (another option presented in that article, killfiles, has been implemented independently by j1mmy). Shii takes the polar opposite approach to identity and participation in online forums. As the ideological mastermind behind the era of forced anonymity that