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When creating a community, it is most often the case that no one knows anyone from before, or if they do, they are already friends. Each person enters as a peer and thus each person is treated equally, with equal amounts of respect (more or less). Friendships are made through the interactions with one another, and thus emotional bonds are formed in the process of BarnRaising.

However, as much as the OpenProcess of OnlineCommunities are PerformanceArt, the LifeInText of the members is visible to outside parties for perusal. Thus, the reputation of the membership is spread not just by word of mouth, but often through reading and linking. This means that each contributor will become a PublicPersonality. Since many people privilege the written word as more authoritative (qua TheAuthor --> authoritative), and many people overreact to the emotional timbre of the written word (cf. DampenEmotions), an outsider's general impression of the online community may grow disproportionate with reality.

Thus, a person outside the circle and awareness of the community may become emotionally bonded with the reputation of the community before having introduced him or herself. Note that this is different than being merely interested with the community (cf. UsAndThem); they are already attached to it. Yet the outsider only has an impression of and attachment to the people in that community based on artifacts left behind from the community's process of interaction, rather than the interaction itself. Even if the outsider spends the appropriate amount of time to LurkBeforeYouLeap?, they will still have become bonded with the community before the community has bonded with them. This creates a difference in emotional attachment between one party and another--called a PreferentialAttachment.

If your community maintains a strong separation between TheAuthor and TheAudience, building a large fanbase through PreferentialAttachment can work to your advantage. SlashDot panders to their fans, even creating things like their "Geeks in Space" radio program for consumption by them. Creating a large fanbase increases traffic and thus can help you generate revenue. However, if you have to interact with your fans, then you run the risk of invalidating their emotional bond, and thus generating animosity.

Note that one of the advantages of the Internet (the collapse of social hierarchy)--fans can talk to their celebrated. The attraction of interacting with the community may become overwhelming for the AdoringFan. The tension of witnessing the internal interaction of the community (through its OpenProcess) and yet not participating or having a voice may rise to the point where the fan jumps in--overexuberantly.

If the AdoringFan does not get along with the community, which is likely the case indeed, they will feel jilted when rejected by the community. The community most likely does not understand the extent of the emotional attachment the AdoringFan has already formed with the community, and will be blindsided by the ensuing FlameWar. This will further dissociate the AdoringFan from the community.

Otherwise, if the AdoringFan is tolerable and even pleasant, the community may include him or her. Quite often then the AdoringFan becomes a sycophant, which endears him or her to certain CommunityMembers who are vulnerable to praise. For the most part, though, constant reassurance disrupts the process of BarnRaising. Further, it feels uncomfortable to receive praise that isn't deserved or appropriate for the discussion at hand.

Either flaming or kissing up, an AdoringFan disables and disrupts communication, whilst being a NonContributor himself. An AdoringFan may oscillate between the two, in fact, and thus HighLowPump? the community. This may make the AdoringFan look like a troll when he or she isn't nearly as sophisticated to pull this off.

One solution to avoid AdoringFans is to create an InviteOnly? or FishBowled GatedCommunity, thus limiting the ability of outsiders to intrude on the happenings of the community. However, this can also backfire since they may still create a bond with the community, but yet be denied a voice there. It may be better to know about them as well, rather than be surprised by a secret fan. In particular, it is often the case online that an AdoringFan turns into a stalker (WhatIsaStalker); sometimes it's better to know about them than not.

The best thing for an outsider to do is not care so much about the reputations of the people. People are people too. Maintain some irreverence, since they are not to be ReveredLeaders. There are no net.famous people. All of us are sitting here in front of our computers online instead of maintain a healthy life for some reason or another. We all have our reasons for being online.

Often in the InternetTechnologyLifeCycle, AdoringFans are those who want to jump on your bandwagon, trying to ride the coattails of the community they are interested in. They may not themselves have the appropriate level of skills or knowledge to be interesting to the community that created the ideas. For example, Linux zealots often have no clue what they are talking about, they are just repeating mantras in an attempt to place themselves within the bright shining glare of the Linux star. These bandwagon jumpers are wankers, often coming in trying to take credit for others' work. They often offer unworkable ideas that miss the point of what made the community successful, and then get angry that their ideas are rejected by the authoritative PeerReviewers since rejection will PunishReputation--the reputation they are trying construct for themselves off the community's work. This is counterproductive, and against BarnRaising, as it is egoful.

The problem may be that the community does not have a wide range of skillsets and temperaments. It may be more talented or more professional than the AdoringFans. In more self-aggrandizing terms, it may be "out of their league". In reality, they most likely are at different stages in life or come from different backgrounds. Most people know when they are out of place, but some people are impervious or apathetic that they are not engendering the same level of respect as others in the community. But, again, it is a great strength of the Internet that one can interact with people that you fear might be out of your league. It is also a great burden that everyone must learn to cope with people of varying backgrounds, including AdoringFans.

See also


First, DissuadeReputation--your own reputation that is. PostAnonymously as individuals, and remain humble as a community. Avoid talk about WorldDomination? and power. LimitTemptation. Also, provide ways of bringing AdoringFans "into our league", create a CommonContext: make CommunityLore explicit, create a FrequentlyAskedQuestions? page, keep up OpenProcess. Alternatively, DissuadeInteraction. Make your community a GatedCommunity and private. FishBowl the community and then make it InviteOnly?, as mentioned above.

For most AdoringFans, if you must interact with them (unlike SlashDot), you must integrate AdoringFans as quickly as possible. Practice RadicalInclusiveness. Be humble when dealing with them. Play down their reverence. Make silly jokes. Treat them as peers. Undoubtedly, you will do this anyway, and people will stop being fans and become CommunityMembers. Make it clear you find reverent speech uncomfortable and inappropriate if they continue. However, don't pander to them. Maintain your integrity. You don't have to like them or be interested in them, you just can't be snotty towards them. If you don't form a strong relationship, they are invited to consider their RightToLeave.

Wankers and stalkers are different however. You want to DissuadeInteraction with them as they are acting in bad faith and often hostile. That is, they won't exercise their RightToLeave even when they should.

You can drive me away from your house, but you won't be able to drive me away from your grave. -- Proverb from Sierra Leone

CategoryDifficultPerson CategoryConflict


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