Building communities with software

Excellent Joel Spolsky article about the design decisions to build the Fog Creek tech support forum.
He talks about small touches designed to improve the conversation and the social space:
* a simple design to eliminate impediments to posting. “That’s why there’s no registration and there are literally no features, so there’s nothing to learn.”
* no feature to “email replies to post” — that kills discussion, since users never check back
* no branching, since branching makes discussions confusing
* topics listed based on time of original post– drives a life cycle for conversations
* need to scroll through all the posts before you respond –means users are more likely to respond in context
* no “preview mode” — means users are more likely to be careful before posting
* “reply” doesn’t quote previous post — reduces redundancy
* human moderation — need to remove troublemakers, much less socially and technical complicated than Slashdot

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