“MUSINGS ON THE COMMUNITY OF MGoBlog"
Several threads and occurrences in the last several months here started to get me thinking about just how advanced a cyber-community MGoBlog actually is ,and this seemed even semi-appropriate with the holidays now upon us to reflect a little bit on what we collectively bring to this place.
Some may disagree, but to me, this place has both preserved its initial intent as being a premiere source for information and discussion of Michigan athletics, but it seems as if it has evolved into something far more than that. It is a combination of various items, I believe, ranging from the general parameters of the site to things as simple (or complex, depending on your view) as the sort of people we generally are as fans of the University of Michigan.
It is a virtual space, but a well-developed one. Our usernames are associated with particular styles of commentary, certain opinions and even specialty content. Whether it is karma or the soon-to-be returned voting system, our perceived credibility is judged on a daily basis. Indeed, being one of the most visible Michigan fan sites if not the most visible, the system of feedback is vital to maintaining the quality of the site and its content by showing newcomers to the community what the shared expectations tend to be.
Sometimes, we miss the mark, sometimes we hit upon something humorous or insightful, but in watching comments attain ratings, you gain visibility into community norms, some of which Brian laid out in the beginning, but many of which have developed above and beyond the basic tenets of the site. Some of them are humorous, but some are not - Muppets, for example, after a big victory are humorous and deserved, but someone posting a link to one of Bleacher Report’s slide shows is not.
It is a moderated space, so in a sense, it is a governed one, both through site moderation and the community at large. As if you were speaking at work, you don’t necessarily have the right to say whatever without consequence, and this alone strengthens the sense of community around here. We do an excellent job of looking out for one another, but this is a group also unafraid to let people know in some fashion when lines (both external and internal to the blog) have been crossed, either deliberately or by definition as in the odd Kate Upton GIF. To safeguard against this, we can see posts and threads labeled as “NSFW”, for example, or indeed, when things get ugly, threads or posts are locked and/or deleted. People may quibble about the amount of moderation, but it is undeniable that without it, this would not be a close-knit group.
We’ve donated to and even taken on the causes of other site members, some of which include former players at Michigan, which I think is one of the most apparent pieces of evidence that ours is a fairly advanced community as cyber-cultures go. We’re also a connected group with some influence on affairs in the physical world and group with diverse areas of expertise, so when we aren’t talking plays and strategy, we sometimes find ourselves helping people in this community accomplish real world things or resolve real world issues. To me, that is evidence that we collectively care about each other’s well-being, so there are shared values that have arisen from this thing called MGoBlog.
The core element, of course, is our devotion to University Of Michigan athletics as well as to the school itself. Whether we are alums or not, students there or not, it is the one institution which has, above others, made the deepest impression on all of us. The Wolverines are that team (whether it is football, basketball, hockey and so on through the varsity sports) to which we feel the deepest connection. Deep enough, as a matter of fact, that many of us digest almost every single bit of minutia, as evidenced by threads on travel itineraries for the team and posts obviously made while in line at the Spring Auction. From this center, through the years, a viable community – albeit virtual – has sprung, in my opinion.
Indeed, all this is why I come here, not just to be part of a group that shares my obsession with sports and the University Of Michigan, but to be part of the community that has developed around it.