. It is quite interesting to see the different emergent personalities of each board. But then again, I study emergent community discourses for a living.
So, how are we doing with our discourse?
I think it's kind of telling that this particular community has its own lingo to set itself apart from the other ones. Unicorn, Rainbow, the other show that must not be discussed. There's also much more of a (dare I say it) morning radio DJ vibe from people on this forum. I actually find it kind of jarring when I am listening to brewstrong, a reasoned engineering approach to brewing that should appeal to broad demographics and all of a sudden I'm reminded that they're spraying beer radio all over my face. Suck it Tasty is fun and all, but I have some female brewers for friends, and they have a hard enough time at the LHBS (store owners often talk down to female brewers), and I really have a hard time recommending the podcasts to them. It's not precisely offensive, but it's definitely got the drivetime douchebag feel at times.
HBT has acronyms nobody explains (I rarely see SWMBO used on this forum here, or at least far less often). There's more likely to be novices on HBT (owing largely (I imagine) to the google- if you google most terms associated with home brewing, you get hbt and tbn is nowhere to be found). As a result, the HBT community seems to actually be more insular - less likely to know about other forums. On the other hand, there's a pretty strong "you should search first" mentality on HBT that occasionally flares up in some n00b-burning.
TBN is helpful, even though most of the help is likely to be of the form of "do a split batch and figure it out yourself", but seems to talk more about specific issues and seems to get far more authoritative responses. If I were to ask a question about fermentation temperatures here, I'd get some short and concise responses from sources that sound authoritative. On HBT, I'd get about three or four responses from people who have no clue and sound like they're making shit up, two "I'm subscribing to this thread" replies, and maybe an actual response.
I've not gotten a feel for NB or AHA yet; but Denny Conn, Gordon Strong and Todd Schmidlin seem to play a very significant centrality role on AHA. Here, there's less centrality effects- there are people who seem to post a lot, but it is different. It feels like DC ant TS in particular, and GS more recently, surf through the "new posts" listing and chime in to every thread of interest, even the marginally interesting ones. It's a helpful thing to do, but it also seems to deform the community a tad. I predict in six months we'll start seeing threads on the AHA forum analogous to the "blue fishing" you see on the World of Warcraft forums- people will publicly post threads hoping to get a response from one of these Super Star posters. I say it's a deformation, because it ends up turning the forum into something more like fifteen or fifty parallel people talking past each other instead of a community of people talking *to* each other.
Oddly, in no case is there really a distinguishing discursive norm that actually applies to beer or brewing. People aren't yet talking about brewing in settled forms, there's little agreed-upon standards for authority or decision making processes, and actually very little discussion of what counts as "good" beer.
I will say that HBT is less suffering of people who break the discursive mold. If you post a thread in the "wrong" forum, it'll get moved and likely won't be responded to. Also, the HBT owners seem to be really pushing the membership / other projects pretty hard. I got a PM from them about how if I upgraded, I could have more space for PMs. Ironically, that PM filled my inbox to full; the other four PMs were adverts about their new city-local forum. Which is a bad idea for a forum, I could have told them earlier. But that's neither here nor there. I'm starting to get all analytic.
Oh wait. I bet you were being rhetorical.