How many forum members to change a lightbulb?


15 Sep 2004
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A view from across the pond....

and in a similar sort of vein...

Every online discussion group seems to go through the same cycle. Below are the six stages in the life cycle of an online discussion group, with a fateful fork in the road at level six. Also included are typical posts for each stage from the online "Pizza Forum" (mythical):
1. Initial enthusiasm: People introduce themselves and gush a lot about how wonderful it is to find kindred souls.
Pizza Forum: "You like pizza?! I like pizza, TOO! This is so great."
2. Evangelism: People moan about how few folks are posting messages and brainstorm recruitment strategies.
Pizza Forum: "We could make this the best place for discussing pizza on the whole Internet. I bet there are lots of people like us who love pizza!"
3. Growth: More and more people join. More and more lengthy threads develop. Occasional off-topic threads pop up.
Pizza Forum: "I just can't believe how many people love pizza. I had no idea that Richard Nixon liked garlic pizza. And I'm not sure I needed to know that."
4. Community: Lots of threads, some more relevant than others. Lots of information and advice are exchanged. Experts help other experts as well as less experienced colleagues. Friendships develop. People tease each other. Newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience. Everyone --newbie and expert alike-- feels comfortable asking questions, suggesting answers, and sharing opinions.
Pizza Forum: "I have never loved pizza so much in my life. Thank you so much for that terrific recipe for thin crust! That story about the historical origins of mozzarella cheese was fascinating."
5. Discomfort with diversity: The number of messages increases dramatically. Not every thread is fascinating to every reader. People start complaining about the signal-to-noise ratio. Person X threatens to quit if *other* people don't limit discussion to person X's pet topic. Person Y agrees with person X. Person Z tells X and Y to lighten up. More bandwidth is wasted complaining about off-topic threads than is used for the threads themselves. Everyone gets annoyed.
Pizza Forum: "I really could not care less about the historical origins of mozzarella cheese. I am sick and tired of these self-important 'pizza geeks'. This group is supposed to be about loving pizza, and now I'm starting to hate pizza. What happened??"
6a.Smug complacency and stagnation: The purists flame everyone who asks an "old" question or responds with humor to a serious post. Newbies are rebuffed. Traffic drops to a doze-producing level limited to a few minor issues; all interesting discussions happen by private email and are limited to a few participants. The purists spend lots of time self-righteously congratulating each other for suppressing off-topic threads...
Pizza Forum: "Again? Look, we have already reached a group consensus on the mozzarella question. Please consult the archives. Can we get back to the history of dough-shaping please..."
6b.Maturity: A few people quit in a huff. The rest of the participants stay near stage 4, with stage 5 popping up briefly every few weeks. Long-term members may find that they ignore more messages than they read. But the community lives contentedly ever after.
Pizza Forum: "I still like pizza."
(with thanks to the original author of the "Life Cycle of a List")


Whiskey Bravo

New member
17 Jan 2010
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Surely the original poster forgot to add the number of forumites who'd want to discuss the effects of lighting on seahorses and where's the nearest place to buy them from when anchored in Studland Bay.:D


14 Sep 2004
in my world
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1 to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been changed
14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently
7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs
1 to move it to the Lighting section
2 to argue then move it to the Electricals section
7 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing light bulbs
5 to flame the spell checkers
3 to correct spelling/grammar flames
6 to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb" ... another 6 to condemn those 6 as stupid
2 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is "lamp"
15 know-it-alls who claim they were in the industry, and that "light bulb" is perfectly correct
19 to post that this forum is not about light bulbs and to please take this discussion to a lightbulb forum
11 to defend the posting to this forum saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant to this forum
36 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique and what brands are faulty
7 to post URL's where one can see examples of different light bulbs
4 to post that the URL's were posted incorrectly and then post the corrected URL's
3 to post about links they found from the URL's that are relevant to this group which makes light bulbs relevant to this group
13 to link all posts to date, quote them in their entirety including all headers and signatures, and add "Me too"
5 to post to the group that they will no longer post because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy
4 to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"
13 to say "do a Google search on light bulbs before posting questions about light bulbs"
1 forum lurker to respond to the original post 6 months from now and start it all over again

shouldn't this be in the lounge?

guess that covers the 4th one on the list then!


Well-known member
6 Apr 2004
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or what about the jokes.....

Why does it take 5 female crew members with PMT, to change that lightbulb?