Aristotle argues that the simple ability to keep discourse going produces a natural limit to the size of democracy: it cannot grow beyond the voice of a Stentor. Slashdot blew through this barrier, providing a structure in which good ideas could float to the top. This early experiment has made its way into the lifeblood of modern social media platforms like Facebook.
Learning Mass Interaction
Alex Halavais
39

Aristotle also argued in Politics that “the greater the number of owners, the less the respect for common property. People are much more careful of their personal possessions than of those owned communally; they exercise care over common property only in so far as they are personally affected.” Insofar as we can see knowledge and ideas as “property” I think this holds true in the mass interactions we see today. On platforms like Facebook where people are more easily personally affected, they tend to take more care with their comments (though the recent election has revealed a number of very careless individuals indeed). On platforms like Reddit, I often find that the default subreddits with extremely large populations have some of the loosest moderation and discussions most prone to devolving into circlejerk jokes, memes, and trolling. Specialized subreddits with smaller populations often have tighter moderation, and greater care is taken with the exchange of information that constitutes communal property. /r/AskHistorians is a terrific example of this, a smallish community with extremely high standards for posting and commenting.

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