I was initially very excited about what hubski brought to the table.
I've been around for a little over a month (lurking at first), and I've had some very interesting discussions and seen a lot of thought-provoking material. But the longer I stay here, the more I feel apathetic to the cause.
I'm not sure why that is, but I'll try to explain as best I can. Take it for what it's worth.
I think that hubski shows some real potential, mostly because it allows good content to get to the right people. What I think it does "wrong", or at least not as I would hope is that discussion becomes somewhat of a back-burner part of hubski. (this is my disclaimer - I am mostly referring to new users' experiences) Sure, just like any other website, IRL group or team, sometimes awesome discussions and experiences are had. But the more I look, the less I see it. While I was first impressed by the community aspect of hubski, I now start to question what this really means. The most popular users (thenewgreen, mk, kleinbl00, etc) are almost given a VIP pass to popularity. I think that the way it is set up, the people who are already popular are given a much higher chance at gaining new followers, and rarely because of the actual content they post. If I were to best describe it, hubski is whirlpool where the superusers gain momentum from followers, and continue to suck up all of the users and fill up the userspace, leaving little room for new and less popular users to gain a following. I certainly don't discredit hubski from making gaining popularity possible, but I see it as less and less likely, especially with more users coming in. I might be overstating the problem, but I think it will become more and more apparent as hubski becomes more popular.
Your 2 questions: 1. Why would this hamper discussion? 2. If you don't want to see them, don't follow them. Why is it a big deal?
1. I don't think this inherently hampers discussion. What I do think is that hubski is becoming more "link/content-oriented" versus "discussion-oriented". Now this is where I have to make a disclaimer that I don't do this often enough, but I think that comments should be where hubski is centred around. Without an active dialogue about what you just read, what was the real point in going to hubski in the first place, instead of just going through your RSS feed or something? It might feel better to go on hubski, but eventually that feeling will become dull. Hubski should be a place where you just know that the comments on a post add to the content in a meaningful and insightful way. And I have got to say that it doesn't happen very often. The thing is, it does. But on first glance at my feed, and the global feel while logged out, there are 2 posts with comments that add anything to the content of the submission. I guess this is my call to arms, which includes me, to start commenting more, and with more effort. If you don't have enough time, or don't know enough about the subject, whatever. I'm sure there are enough people at this point to at least have meaningful discussions in every 1/5 to 1/10 posts. It is hubski, so the posts should be interesting enough to have something to say about it. I don't want hubski to turn into a link aggregator, and I don't want it to turn into a wall of 2 sentence witty replies that add nothing. There is a balance to be found.
2. It is a big deal. Powerusers have been proven to wreck websites, look at digg. No matter if the users can ignore them, at some point their backing becomes too strong to avoid their influence on the site. This is a big warning sign, just to say "watch out!", because just by the fact that users have followers, hubski is prone to a big problem of group-think and mob-mentality.
So after writing that, it occurred to me that I've provided very little constructive advice. Complaining doesn't really help. So here are some suggestions, take them with a grain of salt:
For users: - Be careful what you share. Be sure that you are sharing content because you found it interesting and think your followers would too. - If you have something to add to the conversation, please do. It's typically better to comment than share. (do both!) - Instead of spending 2 minutes on 10 posts without adding anything to the discussion, spend 10 minutes on 2 posts and add insight into the discussion. Choose posts that you have an interest in. - Play devil's advocate more.
For admins / powerusers: - Post what you'd like hubski to look like. (interesting articles, insightful opinions, whatever your ideal is) - Understand how many people are affected by your decisions.
One last point that I had (and yes, I am a hypocrite) - hubski promotes posts about hubski a lot. Maybe this is a good thing. And sure, ignore #hubski. But I just find it really interesting that we like posts about our own community so much. Maybe it's pretentious, maybe it's cautious, maybe it's just interesting. I can't really say. Just thought I'd put that out there.
I realized that a lot of #hubski posts are very positive-natured, and rarely is the site criticized for things in its own community. I don't mean to say huski is in any way going in the wrong direction, as a matter of fact I love the place. It is very cool. Just thought we should be cautious about exclaiming that it's perfect and flawless already - there's still work to be done. (and we're all happy to be part of that work) Hopefully this didn't come across as mean or anything of the like, I only want self-improvement. The user base has a lot to do with this. (this is one of the things mk can't do himself :))
Alright, enough rambling, am I off base or no? Any other suggestions to improve?