A lot of people write a lot of stuff that’s pretty negative about TechCrunch. Since I don’t actually do an ego monitor, we miss most of it. But every once in a while something bubbles up and I see it. Usually I don’t respond because it just encourages more of the same.
But today a weird one popped up by a blogger named Umair Haque. He took it down for some reason, although it wasn’t particularly aggressive. Just odd. Here’s the original post:
2008 + The TechCrunch Effect
Admit it. You’re getting just a wee bit tired of TechCrunch. Erick’s posts are usually pretty cool, and TC UK is interesting. But otherwise…between Mike, Duncan, etc, it’s a bit like mistakenly walking into a room filled with screaming harpies.
I’m gonna make a prediction. TechCrunch (etc) are peaking. Without investing in the community – instead of just endlessly playing the community against itself – further growth (real growth, not just beta) is going to be more and more costly.
I’m gonna call this set of dynamics the TechCrunch Effect. It’s the opposite of building a community. Instead of making a set of people with similar interests better off, you wedge them and divide them.
Yes, you can get attention that way – by tapping the dynamics of competition. No, you can’t sustain it – because the returns to competition are dominated by the returns to cooperation in a world where anyone can compete.
2007 was the year of networks. 2008 is going to be the year of communities.
If we’re lucky, Etsy is gonna start emerging as the next Google. Microcommunities are going to explode. Etc. Why? Because at the edge, love is more powerful than hate – a lot more powerful.
NB – Mike B has a nice and funny response here, which you should read.
I have a feeling I’m gonna take maaajor heat for this post, so let me leave you with three thoughts.
1) When I say love in the context of communities, I don’t mean just giving good reviews. I mean managing the community so everyone’s better off, not arguing all the time.
2) If you wanna comment, no flames for either side please. Bubblegen and TC aren’t competitors, there’s no need for anyone to feel threatened, so let’s focus on constructive criticism.
3) Yes, of course, I could just be wrong.
My quick comments:
First, on the issue of creating controversy – we’ve always done this. Its not new. It’s my personality. But we do lot of community building, too. And for anyone that thinks startups don’t get an advantage by being covered by us should read this.
Second, on the issue of community – I don’t know how to respond to this exactly. The problem isn’t that our community is growing. The problem is that growth, by definition, leads to the degradation of a community. The wingnuts arrive, and the trolls take up residence. Our challenge is to find a way to engage a larger audience while keeping the interest of our core readers. That may be impossible – and someday I may spin myself out of TechCrunch and start a new blog. The topic – new startups.
Third, Etsy isn’t the new Google.
I don’t know if TechCrunch will exist in a year. Or ten years. Remember that I started it as a hobby. But I do know that I have a dream job, that I created myself, and that I’m surfing one really fun wave right now. Whatever happens next, happens.