Thursday, April 21, 2011

Practicum #4- Michael

Hello, blog. It’s been a while. I’m so sorry I’ve neglected you. A lot has gone on since we last spoke. But the biggest story of the year and the thing that I want to focus on in this particular post is the Knicks’ midseason acquisition of superstar Carmelo Anthony and its effect on the social networking sites I’ve been using throughout this semester.

To give some context, the Knicks haven’t had a legitimate superstar on the roster since Patrick Ewing was traded in 2000 and haven’t won a championship since the 1972-1973 season. New York is known to many as the mecca of basketball, and after enduring the last decade of misery, the fans are bloodthirsty for a winning team.This summer was the first step in the right direction with the signing of superstar forward Amare Stoudemire, but to bring an even more prolific star like Carmelo Anthony on board midseason to a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2004 set Knicks Nation on fire. Instantly after his acquisition became public news, all of the social network sites I’ve been following throughout this semester became flooded with new users.

On the Knicks message forum on RealGM, there were a combination of new posters who were strictly Carmelo Anthony fans and followed him wherever he went, posters who were Knicks fans but just felt a desire to start posting now that the team became relevant again, and posters who were fans of other teams that wanted to discuss the move on the most populated and active message forum on RealGM. The cool thing about the Knicks RealGM message forum is that we already have such an established community and the website has such a distinct means of denoting social hierarchy that the community was generally able to maintain its structure and order. While much of this came from the fact that the real consistent users know who each other are and most new users spring up and die down after a little while, a lot of it also came from a sort of mob mentality from the community towards new users that was somewhat new to see. Generally, whenever new posters introduce themselves to the board they are greeted with sarcastic “STFU & GTFO”, but those are just posters twisted way of saying "Welcome". No one actually usually minds new posters introducing themselves. However, since the Knicks were finally on track to make the playoffs and they finally got themselves a couple of legitimate superstars, the community holds a lot of animosity against new posters for coming across as being bandwagon fans. Many posters feel threatened by the encroachment on their online social grounds by someone who they feel most likely doesn’t have the same degree of commitment. So for better or for worse, RealGM seemed to fend off a good deal of potential new comers largely because of the degree of solidarity among the legitimate community members.

As for and the Knicks Facebook Page, it seems that due to the lack of stability and unity within the “communities” of each site, exactly what many posters feared would happen to RealGM happened to TKB and the Knicks Facebook Page. Suddenly every time a blog was posted on or an update was posted on the Knicks Facebook Fan Page, there were double or triple the amount of comments than you would normally see. What’s worse, though you know the nuances of each new poster that comes along on a fully functioning community like RealGM, there’s no real method of introduction for many of the new posters/commenters who join in to TKB or the Knicks Facebook Page. People just jump on the wagon and there is no basis for other, more established members to question the newcomers’ presence or maintain unity among long-standing members. I think this is because neither of these websites make much use of individual topics like a message forum does.

On, the most order you can find within the comments section is the indented nature of a comment in direct reference to another comment, which can get confusing to follow sometimes. On Facebook, there is a “Discussion” tab for users to start a discussion by creating individual topics, and since Facebook links in so many more fans (albeit more casual fans), there are usually a couple of responses to topics created. However, the tab itself is so buried on the main page that unless you were actively looking for it, you wouldn’t be find your way there. On, the one way community was maintained was through original and consistent members actively commenting on posts by other original and consistent members. As members recognized each other among the chaos of all the newcomers, they seemed to make it a point to maintain contact (either consciously or not) probably as a means of sticking together and not being phased out. On Facebook there was no hope, as the comments sections just went wild with newcomers. There was no order whatsoever and no means of community other than in this very broad, superficial sense that the Facebook page seems to harbor.

Overall, the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony caused a huge effect on all of the social network sites I’m following. However, as expected, the one that was able to maintain its community the most effectively seemed to be RealGM. Of course I’m a bit bias being that I’m much more of an integrated member of the community there, but I feel as though I’m doing all I can to become a member of the other communities and something about their makeup is not allowing there to be much of a community presence in general and therefore not allowing me to insert myself into them. This Carmelo news made the process of becoming apart of whatever sense of community there is on those sites much harder than before. Luckily, as the season progressed, many of the bandwagon newcomers fell off and the sites were able to generally get back to form. But what happened after/what is still happening now that that fiasco has passed, I will save for my next post. Until then...

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