Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Riding the Failure Cascade

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the wreck-you-with-maths dept.

Math 195

An anonymous reader writes "The Escapist has up an article looking at a curve that represents the dissolution of large social groups, like online guilds. Called the Failure Cascade, it's essentially a way of examining the dissociation of members of an organization predicated on a culture of success. They primarily explore this phenomenon using descriptions of EVE corporate alliances. 'These are the two forces at work in [an] alliance's failure cascade: the individual and the guild ... This happens because the failure cascade is the inverse of a network effect. Websites like MySpace define their value by the people that use the service just as guilds define their quality by their members. As bad events cause players to leave or become inactive, the quality drop leads others to do the same in a spiral that rarely stabilizes, until no one is left.'"

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Hello? Hello? (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704060)

Anyone here? Where did you all go?

Re:Hello? Hello? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704192)

Arguing about Math and Maths a couple of articles down

Re:Hello? Hello? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704236)

> Anyone here? Where did you all go?

Dude, this is Slashdot, not SWG. Even on a Friday night, we're all still here!

Re:Hello? Hello? (0, Flamebait)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704358)

Yes, the failure cascade hit slash years ago, fortunately by catering to losers, the site simply found a market so desperate that they would not leave, even on a friday night (not lug night though, that's for my real friends).

Re:Hello? Hello? (1)

innerweb (721995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704638)

Being unable to go out on a Friday night for fun would imply one of three things to me. My Friday nights ended with marriage. I was married before slashdot was born. But, the repetition of activities led me to slashdot. Being married to a beautiful woman might seem like something nice to so many without a relationship, but a mind is the most beautiful of things. And she rarely wants to study, discuss or have anything to do with anything beyond cosmetics, jewelry and clothes. She is great at all three. She can sell them, and she can help people clear up their skin even when their docs can not. But, that just does not hold the same thrill to me as a flux capacitor in my new Matrix (I said I was married).


Re:Hello? Hello? (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704996)


Re:Hello? Hello? (3, Funny)

innerweb (721995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705174)

It is just a regular silver/gray matrix. Nothing special.


Re:Hello? Hello? (4, Funny)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705460)

Dude, this is Slashdot, we don't give a shit about the car, we want pics of the goddamn flux capacitor.


Re:Hello? Hello? (1)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705484)

and we MUST know:
does it run Linux?

Re:Hello? Hello? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704596)

I'm in your base, killing your dudes.

Re:Hello? Hello? (1)

m4g02 (541882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704652)

Anyone here? Where did you all go?

I remember how the downfall happened; it involved a catastrophic event of huge dimensions, huge and expanded dimensions, painful ones, the goatse was called and when "they" started posting this horror it just became a matter of time until the collapse.

Re:Hello? Hello? (1)

GeoSlash (411814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705378)

The parallel in the software world is known as the "Vista" effect

Pointless (3, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704064)

The article could be summarised as so:

People leave guilds.

More people leave guilds.

No one is left in guild.

Guild dies.

Re:Pointless (2, Insightful)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704120)

The article could be summarised as:

People leave guilds. -> More people leave guilds. -> No one is left in guild. -> Guild dies.

I dunno, this is actually pretty interesting. I think it's the first time I've heard of this subject being formally studied...and as a big MMOG player I can use information like this.

It would be nice to see others doing studies like these.

Re:Pointless (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705370)

People leave guilds. -> More people leave guilds. -> No one is left in guild. -> Guild dies.

Counter-example: People join guild. -> Guild can has success -> More people join guild. -> Guild p0wnz.


Re:Pointless (5, Informative)

gnarlyhotep (872433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704160)

Indeed, the summary paints a glowing portrait of an article which does not exist. Nothing is explored, and there's certainly nothing even remotely relating the pseudo-scientific terms of "probility curve" within the article itself.

It all breaks down to a statement of the events which occurred, without any actual insights into the particular motivations (there's some pure speculation, but no actual information).

Cultures of success breaking down when encountering failure is nothing new, and doesn't need vague exploration. Actual exploration of the problem, with statistical models to help understand and, possibly, predict the curve would be helpful. Too bad this article offers none of that.

Re:Pointless (2, Informative)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704374)

Couldn't have said it better myself. I was hoping that the article was a scientific analysis, but I don't care about "guilds" or MySpace. If the article had substance it would be useful. From a corporate point of view being able to predict the things that the summary alludes to would be important (not that I care too much for corporations, but it interests me). The inverse would be where there is growth and, again, if TFA had substance, this could have been explored if there was any real statistical substance in the "study".

Re:Pointless (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704908)

There wasn't any substance in the Guilds either. The decision to stay or go is a triviality because it's nothing but mindless entertainment that achieves nothing. So, conclusions from this study wouldn't really mean anything anyways.

Kind of a waste of time if you ask me. Don't they have anything better to do? If they don't, their education was a waste of time.

It would be a particularly shallow summary (2, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704332)

The article could be summarised as so:
It's an application of catastrophe theory. It applies to many things, explains why change rarely happens slowly. Games like EVE allow sociologists to watch what causes the change...

Or ... it's just "people leave guilds".

Life, as shallow as you like.


Re:It would be a particularly shallow summary (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705416)

No, you are just putting to much into that story.
Its just a single case of a dying alliance presented there.
And even that case doesnt give an point towards some kind of "failure cascade".
It just tells that if one corp is losing battles, its getting weaker, and thus likely to lose more battles if it doesnt stop. Somebody call captain obvious...

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704468)

I don't get it.

When explained in a less complicated manner I begin to doubt this stories relevance to anything.


Re:Pointless (1)

Funkcikle (630170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704522)

A very basic "article" which reads like someone is currently really enjoying the word "cascade"...

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704578)

You're right; the article was deluged with it.

Re:Pointless (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704590)

You forgot the step: People leave the game.

I know I lost interest in EVE after the corp I was in dissolved. I canceled my account about two months after the corp crashed.

Re:Pointless (1)

pravuil (975319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704694)

From old guilds come new guilds. Some old guilds adapt and maintain power. All in all, power shifts. It happens and there are exceptions to the rule.

Yes, short-sided and pointless. Like it says in the article:

Why stick around a guild where your leader can't inspire, your friends are becoming enemies and the people you grew up with are leaving to play World of Warcraft?

People have to go somewhere.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704984)

in list form:
1.) People leave guilds
2.) More people leave guilds
3.) No one is left in guild
4.) ????
5.) Anti-profit!!

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21705102)

Boy meets guild.

Boy loses guild.

Slashdot: Your Source for Old News (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704070)

November 20th, meet December 14th.

Re:Slashdot: Your Source for Old News (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704276)

November 20th, meet December 14th.

Sheesh you are right that's old, you would think that this article would have burned with the library in Alexandria..

Re:Slashdot: Your Source for Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704330)

Damn skippy.

The cascading decline and DRM (2, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704078)

I wonder if the RIAA and MPAA will figure out that DRM and huge lawsuits with huge awards simply results in a cascading decline of their products as customers become upset and leave.

Failure Cascade? (5, Funny)

ettusyphax (1155197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704082)

I never thought I'd see a failure cascade, let alone create one!

Re:Failure Cascade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704234)

Gordon, get away from the beams!

All good things end (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704092)

Unless you're talking about being able to predict the rate of failure reliably, what's the point? I don't think that's possible because you'd need to be able to predict specific events that lead to a significant improvement or drop in quality.

Associations, cultures, empires all come and go. That's not something that's new or poorly understood. People have been applying empirical measures of success to all of the above for quite some time.

Re:All good things end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704182)

The study itself is useful because it suggests that rather then just focusing on a single defining ideal for the guild, it should focus on being more then just that. So when bad times happen in say the pvp area, the people won't all leave because there are other aspects that keep them tied to the guild.

Microsoft's Failure Cascade (4, Insightful)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704126)

I feel so topical and current! I just wrote the same thing about Microsoft, detailing the spiral pattern affecting the company's entire consumer product lineup, from Zune to Windows to Office to Xbox to WinCE/Windows Mobile. Will the last person left please turn off the lights?

Soviet Microsoft: How Resistance to Free Markets and Open Ideas Will the Unravel the Software Superpower []

Somewhat ironically, one of the most financially successful capitalist companies of the 90s has positioned itself as a modern counterpart to the old communist Soviet Union. Microsoft's ideological contempt for and resistance to free markets and the open expression and propagation of fresh ideas and technologies is not only a close parallel of the old USSR, but also a clear reflection of why Microsoft is currently failing and why its troubles have only just begun. Here's a comprehensive look at why this is the case.

No!!!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704284)

You Fool!

Don't alert them to their faults!! They might actually pay attention! Then they won't shrivel up and die and go away!

Your words make baby Tux cry!

Demonstration of failure cascade in action (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704494)

Awaiting moderation in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... And you're outta here!

Re:Microsoft's Failure Cascade (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704572)

Uh, a article? Hmmm, there's absolutely no MS bias, no siree.

Re:Microsoft's Failure Cascade (3, Insightful)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704642)

The problem is that reality is biased against Microsoft as well.

Take your pic on the data you'd like to take issue with: slagging sales, stock market indifference, consumer market share in any product that has any competition, consumer perception, forward looking sales projections, historical inability to ship, outrageous inability to make money on any product not supported by a monopoly position.

And please, drop an occasional detail why you think I'm wrong. All this weak ad hominem criticism just makes me more likely to get sloppy. I really need the competition, just like Microsoft.

Apple TV Digital Disruption at Work: iTunes Takes 91% of Video Download Market []

This quarter's NPD report on video downloads flies in the face of claims made by certain analysts claiming to have the answers required to turn around the supposed "failure" of Apple TV. Echoing his earlier claims that iTunes faced a dire future, Forrester Research's James McQuivey recently took Apple TV to task, fretting that his guesstimate of sales didn't match his earlier sales prediction. Based on McQuivey's guesswork, Silicon Alley Insider's Dan Frommer offered suggestions for "fixing" it.
While it has become fashionable to mimic the complaints of others when talking about Apple TV, the more shocking reality is that the product is actually working as intended to strengthen Apple's plans for the digital disruption of television. Here's why.

Re:Microsoft's Failure Cascade (2, Informative)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704704)

Take your pic on the data you'd like to take issue with: slagging sales, stock market indifference, consumer market share in any product that has any competition, consumer perception, forward looking sales projections, historical inability to ship, outrageous inability to make money on any product not supported by a monopoly position.

I agree with all of the above points, save two: lagging sales and stock market indifference. If you look at sales of personal computers, you'll see that Vista is taking hold despite all of the negative attention that it has attracted. Simply put, the mainstream media haven't covered the disadvantages of Vista to nearly the same extent as the tech press, with the result that consumers are largely uninformed. Those banner ads saying "Dell recommends Windows Vista" work, because consumers by and large don't realize that Microsoft is paying Dell to put up those ads, and that Dell sales representatives will more than happily recommend XP when asked personally.

As for stock price, Microsoft is doing rather well. They aren't flying at their record height of $50 a share, but the trend has been upward of late, with MSFT [] hitting a 52 week high last month.

Re:Microsoft's Failure Cascade (0, Offtopic)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704606)

As long as we're discussing Soviet Irony, how about the Permanent Republican Majority attempt to turn the U.S. into a single-party system? This from the same folks who claim credit for taking down the USSR in the first place!

Re:Microsoft's Failure Cascade (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704648)

To be quite honest, that was one of the most poorly written rants I've seen in a while. What was that essay about, the imminent failure of Microsoft, the downfall of hippie culture, or the downfall of Marxism/Leninism? There's three different threads of thought in that article, and not enough has been done to draw them together or draw parallels between them.

Re:Microsoft's Failure Cascade (1)

LarsG (31008) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705150)

That article is about par for the course for roughlydrafted. To keep your sanity, add the following to your userContent.css:

A[HREF*=""]:after { content: " [IDIOT WARNING]"!important ; color: red }

Re:Microsoft's Failure Cascade (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705440)

"In Soviet Microsoft, gates control the commerce."

It fits... it really fits. How appropriate.

Ref: This post []

Political Parties (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704130)

What happens when Republicans lose the White House in 2008? As a brand [] , Democrats didn't decline in popularity after their 2004 defeat (or after 2000). But Republicans did decline after their 2006 losses - though they'd started after their 2004 victories, and regained some shortly after the 2006 upsets. Maybe political parties act different.

Re:Political Parties (1)

creativeHavoc (1052138) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704196)

Poker is a fair game, unless one person in the group is able to count cards. Maybe polical parties can "count cards" while we all play on ignorantly.

Count cards in poker. Tell us how you do. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704742)


Re:Political Parties (2, Funny)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704874)

There are 52 cards. Give me your money.

Re:Political Parties (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704702)

Well, if "Democrat" is a brand, then its fatal moment came a long time ago, when Ronald Reagan ridiculed their core ideologies into political oblivion. And thus founded the politics of Nya Nya Na Nya Nya, probably his biggest contribution to posterity.

But if the Democratic brand is defunct, how is it that the DP has been in and out of power since then? Because not everything is about brands. When people go to the polls they vote for a person, not a party. Thus the Demos held on to the House of Representative during the 80s, even as a resoundingly popular Republican occupied the White House. Then during the 90s the Demos recaptured the White House and lost Congress.

2006 is the exception that proves the rule. People who voted party line didn't vote for the Democrats, they voted against the Republicans. Not because they didn't believe in the politics of the GOP anymore, but because they felt the need to send a nasty message.

Re:Political Parties (4, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704788)

I'd say that 2006 was a combination of the dislike for the republicans as a party and as individuals. Many of the incumbants that lost were voted in during the 94 republican revolution when they all said they wanted smaller government, less pork,more accountability and term limits. In 2006 these idiots record was one of bridges to nowhere, huge deficits, major ethical lapses, and never left office when they said they would. Also, people didn't much care for the Iraq war. Politicians are like diapers, you really should change them often. I wish they would have been able to get some term limits written into the law books. We'd be a better country without the 50 years of strom thrumand or 30+ of Ted Kennedy.

He forgot to add ideals (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704176)

We have formed a player association (the equivalent of guild in star wars galaxies) in 2003, just 1.5 month into the game.

despite it starting up with only 2 members in rebel side, and many mishaps and failures, went on to grow to 120 members (a major number for the bigges server in the game) and established one of the biggest player cities on the server. the group still continues today by hopping from game to game.

the idea is that it was a democratic pa with a solid constitution after the fashion of the republic, now in rebel alliance. was built on the idea of freedom, and all members had been recruited on these ideals and nothing more.

Re:He forgot to add ideals (4, Informative)

NialScorva (213763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704644)

It's interesting that in EvE, the most vulnerable alliances are the ones that are most democratic.

The article is a really horrible description of what happened. The goons launched a combination of raw propoganda as well as propoganda targetted to specific events. Defeats for the goons were absorbed and made part of the culture. Wins were beaten into the ground as a failing on the part of the enemy. An impressive spy and saboture network was fully exploited in terms of economic and military assistance, as well as in the propoganda.

"Failure Cascade" was a term coined by The Mittani, the leader of the Goon Intelligence Agency (GIA). It seems to apply mostly to the application of public opinion and propoganda to widen rifts and blame games within an enemy organization. If the logistics people make a mistake, any military victories are met with comments on the pointlessness of fighting when the territory-holding infrastructure won't hold. Same thing applies to military losses in the face of stout infrastructure. Pretty soon the fighters and logisticians are distrustful and burnt out, not trusting the others to do their jobs.

Enemy command structures are infiltrated and often the goon populace knows as much or more about internal workings as the rank and file members. After the fighters begin got get more confirmed leaks from their leadership on public boards than they do on private boards, a rift is formed and further exploited. At some point, these rifts become self sustaining -- a "failure cascade". It's not unrecoverable.

Democratic alliances are more vulnerable because there are more rifts. People bring up and participate and lose in the democratic process, causing a LOT of "I told you so"s and "If you'd only gone my way..." to exploit. An alliance with ideals presents a target for showing hypocracy within the leadership. The best defense seems to be playing in a largely amoral, berserker-don't-give-a-damn-about-loses style.

Re:He forgot to add ideals (2, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705566)

Considering that I first heard the term "failure cascade" at least as early 1995, it seems unlikely that the term was first coined by someone playing a game that was introduced in 2003. I am pretty sure the term is older than that. The term is based on cascade failures of electrical systems which is a concept that goes back to at least 1965. I would guess that the term was first applied to organizations in the 1970's by one of the many management consultants or motivational speakers who made a name for themselves then.

I remember... (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704178)

When the internet gaming wasn't mainstream yet, there were alot of people theorizing in EDGE about how game play can work when anyone can just disconnect at anytime. This is basically the same thing just at a massive scale what happens if key persons in your web of trust[1] just leaves, or if things get boring.

So the question is what keeps people go, from my own experience nationality is very important, and web site communities. But that's all in the article too.. ;-)

[1] miss use of buzz words bingo

Re:I remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704354)

there were alot of people theorizing in EDGE about how game play can work when anyone can just disconnect at anytime

*twitches* You mean I can just disconnect?

Re:I remember... (5, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704372)

Sometimes friendship.

It wasn't a clan per se, but there was once a group of players I regularly hung out with when the ex was at work (I had no real responsibilities back then, and it beat hitting the bars with the buddies). Everyone would hit a Quake 2 WF server in the wee hours, hang out in observation mode, chat, and play... it was like hanging out with friends at a public pool - you blather on w/ each other a lot, and occasionally jump in the pool and goof off - with the added dimension of giving each other a ration of shit when they were playing and did something dumb (which we would all laugh our asses off at - including the one who goofed).

It wasn't about scores, or standings - most of us in there were fairly solid players who could easily hold our own on nearly any public server (lag permitting). It was about hanging out in something that was new and unfamiliar to most of us in there. It was about a female player (she lived in Utah) blurting poetry in rhythmic time to the goofball sounds that would come out of the screen. It was about telling dirty jokes to distract a flag runner while he was trying to hold off three pursuing defenders. It was about seeing who could stick a sentry gun in the most weird-assed place on a map (you could get them to 'stick' to ceilings if you knew how), or getting a flag without ever touching the ground (or flying - grapple only, please). It was about seeing who could make a flag run as the weakest character, with only that shitty no-damage blaster, and with no help doing it... and everyone (including the defending players) cheering like mad when someone pulled it off.

It's things like that you simply cannot fully analyze, but its things like that which are vital to making and keeping a coherent group of players involved and happy.


Re:I remember... (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705208)

... there was once a group of players I regularly hung out with when the ex was at work (...) Everyone would hit a Quake 2 WF server in the wee hours,

If you still have doubts as to why that relationship ended, I might have a few pointers for you. ;)

The MC (3, Interesting)

jpedlow (1154099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704224)

Mercenary Coalition: "If you cant play with us for 16 hours a day, you're kicked out." I played in eve for 3 years (since beta 6 for those keeping score) and went with the same group of people from failed corp to failed corp, alliances that rose and broke (the OLLDDD Stain Alliance, before the MC existed) and the into the MC which had its own people who left (TC), the problem is that its hard to draw a solid line between "hardcore" gaming for people who have the time to do so, and "casual" gaming for people who play when they have time to do so and want to do so. That being said, both mindsets usually collide at some point and the "hardcore" people go one way, and the "casuals" go the other. You keep seeing these splits as peoples lives/jobs/relationships change. Some group that is good for several years will all of the sudden change when for example, someone gets a new job, or a leader almost loses his family, or school. That being said, it will probably always keep happening. History repeats.

Re:The MC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21705062)

The MC is missing the point: The game should be fun. People should have fun. The MC is not fun.

The MC is doomed to fail.

There are many reasons for guild dissolution (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704262)

Sometimes it's due to some guild members joining a guild early on, specifically to loot it, and then /gkick out members after they loot it, out of some twisted desire to create problems and be a jerk.

Sometimes it's because the guild leader - who usually is someone who invests a large fraction of time making sure it runs smoothly, and probably bankrolls many important events (guild tabard, guild bank vault, special items), getting sick of all the time demands.

Sometimes it's because recent guild members seem to think it's fun to spam guild chat with useless comments and childish sex talk.

Sometimes key officers who were part of the glue that kept it together no longer think the guild serves their purposes.

Sometimes large groups (usually calling themselves Army of ....) become too unwieldy, or guild members start feeling they are operated unfairly.

All these things are risks.

Tempest in a Teacup (1)

Evil Poot Cat (69870) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704264)

I used to describe the discovery, advent, blowoff, collapse, rebirth (elsewhere) of online communities (from BBS forward) as the Online Cycle of Life, or similar phrases that indicate cycles...It looks like Failure Cascade would cover the blowoff/collapse phases. This would apply to just about any socially-oriented group nowadays, whether we're talking websites (/.,, etc.) or MMO groups (as mentioned in the article).

I figure, it's at least a matter of group basis (what is everyone doing/coming here for?), and triggering effects (mutual distrust, site sellouts, etc.) that determine the angle and likelihood of descent.

apples and oranges (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704288)

  I disagree. Social networking tools aren't within a competitive environment, where a collective can "attack" and "disband". People can subscribe to multiple, and often do. For the most part, social networking sites are slipping from the "ease of contacting friends afar" to the "amass a myriad channels to communicate". We will arrive at saturation quite quickly I believe. Face-To-Face, hand-passed-notes, letter-through-post writing, telephone calls, cell phone, voice-chat, text-chat, email, Forums, Usenet, IM, SMS, ICQ and now Social networking "links". Whew!

  There are certain aspects to each type of communication that are interesting (voice inflection, record-keeping, time-delayed, etc) - but there is no one method to rule them all, for telepathy.

Yeah, I knew you were thinking that.

Not much different than Clans... (5, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704294)

I saw a lot of clans in Quake 1/2/3 (and weapons factory for 2&#) rise and fall much the same way. It's cool that it has been articulated, though.

The 'culture of success' is no simple analogy, and can have adverse effects as well. There was a Weapons Factory clan that was founded on success at all costs (they went by the symbol "$"), and they managed to claw their way to the top (mostly through questionable and 'slight' game modifications that weren't exactly botting, but weren't exactly fair play, either - e.g. setting the client binds so that a normally silent cloaked spy player would have nice, loud footsteps to the defending player's ears... meaning they're much easier to locate. Just one of a mountain of examples).

This eventually killed off the entire MOD... folks didn't want to have to deal with outright cheaters (not bot-users, just cheaters), so the clans died off one by one, since most of them were only in it for the fun. Once the clans left, the cascade took down a lot of public servers with it (it didn't help that the Quake 3 MOD's main coder eventually became a member of that same clan, and actively implemented changes as suggested by same...) It had been bad enough that the shift from Quake 2 to Quake 3 had done quite a bit of damage to the MOD's player base, but the clan's modus operandi were eventually too much for the community - they still survive as a small shadow group, and occasionally play on a part-time server. Compared to the days when literally thousands of players could be found on hundreds of servers? Just a faint shadow.

Nowadays, most games are fairly cheat and bot-proof (I said fairly, not mostly or certainly). But the same dynamics are at play - a clan/guild/whatever that makes success their only goal will invariably attract the kinds of players you don't want on any server/world/etc, and tends to ruin the gameplay for everyone else while they're at it. While yes they do set themselves up for failure more readily than those who form just for fun, they also tend to start getting desperate when normal gameplay doesn't offer them the success they need to stay alive. This means they may start looking at 'alternatives' to try and keep the mojo going.

IMHO, the best organizations are those who simply do it for fun, and have a cadre of players who are really into the game. Again at the Weapons Factory example, the Quake2 version had a clan that were the friendliest and most respected guys in town... Population Control Incorporated (PCI). These guys had ISDN connections when the vast majority of players were on modems, but they always played fair, and the matches (at that time) were tightly regulated and fair. The funny thing is, this particular clan did it just for the fun of it. They'd go out of their way to mentor new players on a public server, and to make it fun for the whole pile playing (for instance, if more than one were playing on the same public server and it was full of unknowns or newbies, they'd automatically split themselves among the two teams). They were a stand-up group of people, and it showed in their playing style. It's still a pity they disbanded during the Quake 2/3 shift, but as they themselves said - they held the top slot for too long, many members got burned out from playing the game for literally years, and they pretty much came together and decided that it was time. Most stayed played on for fun (but never joined a clan again) in the Quake 2 version with the occasional fun meet-up matches, until the Q2 version of the MOD finally died a quiet death around 2002 or so... 3 years after Quake 3 came out.

I believe that all organizations begin, they (might) rise, and they (certainly) fall. Some do it short, some take awhile. Some end by mutual agreement. Most are benign, some are poisonous. A precious few even shift from one game to another together.

It's a complex dynamic in any organization, but I kinda like how TFA articulated at least one aspect of it...


Good math potential (2, Insightful)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704322)

The mathematical study of this process could be potentially quite interesting, analogous to the study of critical points and phase transitions in statistical physics. By systematically studying the rise and decline of stable structures in online communities like guilds it could give some insight into a real life version of psychohistory. Indeed, these online groups are microcosms for the real world, but where certain parameters could be controlled and studied. Unfortunately, this article has nothing to do with that and simply seems to be a personal lament about how sometimes online guilds fall apart. It is a bummer for many-a-gamer, but not exactly groundbreaking stuff here.

Re:Good math potential (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704394)

I've sometimes thought of trying to model aggregate human behavior as a collection of gas molecules in containers, or as harmonic oscillators. Think of eg. masses of people trying to move as viscous fluids, or of the stock market as driven by a vast number of superimposed oscillators.

Oh, and +1 for the Foundation reference.

Re:Good math potential (1)

Fallen Seraph4 (1186821) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705088)

Uh, isn't the stock market fractal? Good luck trying to find a fourier series for that...

Re:Good math potential (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705514)

Why don't you try it?

Although, I suspect that if it's something you can do with built-in Matlab functions on the vast readily available financial data (you can get historical data in CSV from yahoo, google, et. all for free last I checked. I'm not sure about intraday though) that there are plenty of firms already doing it and it's already priced-in.

Exactly why BSD failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704386)

All the infighting and divisiveness caused talented people to leave. Further fighting caused fragmentation and duplication of effort among dozens of competing kernels. When the talent like Mike Smith and Jordan Hubbard finally departed, all which remained were 2nd and 3rd tier wannabees.

With a power vacuum, oddballs like Theo De Rat became defacto "spokesmen" and embarrassed what was left of the legitamate BSD community. Inevitably, this scared away what little remained of bona fide skills. It's a damn shame.

Re:Exactly why BSD failed (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704574)

BSD failed 'cause Netcraft said it would.

<The Failure Cascade> (3, Funny)

DdJ (10790) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704402)

Okay, does anyone else think <The Failure Cascade> would be an awesome guild name?

Also known as (4, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704530)

"An SAP implementation."

Re:Also known as (1) (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705376)

Dude, you don't "implement" SAP. There's only a never ending process of "implementing" SAP. It's kinda like a bad rock band that refuses to retire; the hits just keep on rolling, along with the heads of anyone who dares question the project's merit.

Wikipedia? (5, Insightful)

CowardX10 (521665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704404)

I think Wikipedia is a prominent example of this. Assholes(deletionists) are driving away the people who made it great in the first place(content creators) with their elitism and petty power grabs. And now, Wikimedia is only able to achieve 1/4 of their fundraising goal [] because a lot of the content creators were probably money contributors as well.

Congratulations asshole deletionists. You may finally achieve the ultimate deletion-the entire encyclopedia.

Re:Wikipedia? (1)

wev162 (721318) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704818)

I'm afraid wikipdia is going to fade into obscurity with their push to view themselves as more professional. I always found the home grown flavor of wiki interesting, now they are claiming that having a trivia section in an article is beneath them. I feel like having a group trying to shape the growth of wikipedia is completely counter to what it was founded as.

Re:Wikipedia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21705428)

I was under the assumption that Wikipedia was founded as an encyclopedia, not a collection of references to Die Hard. I must be wrong.

Re:Wikipedia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704920)

Agreed with parent. Watching wikipedia implode is not fun. I'm just a user, not a content creator, but I did donate money on an occasional basis. There are a group of people who have got control and are ruining it for everyone now :(

Re:Wikipedia? (1)

CowardX10 (521665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705160)

The worst part is that Jimbo Whales himself was hit by a speedy delete [] for the article Mzoli's Meats [] . But rather than make a change of policy, editors added material to this non-notable butcher shop, and Jimbo is saved from feeling the bitterness of having work you invested a lot of time in get trashed.

Here's the big question. When exactly did these policies about deleting based on notability, trivia, plot synopses, fair use images, come about, and how much work was done before said policies were implemented with such force? Because if a lot of people put in a lot of work only to lose it in the great content razing of 2005-2007, then Wikipedia acted in ABSOLUTE BAD FAITH based on what their starting principals were, and former editors justifiably feel betrayed for having their time wasted.

Re:Wikipedia? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705190)

Wikipedia sucks for other reasons
- refusal to acknowledge certain facts, such as popular musicians (Mehdi) even though they are established (he has an 8 volume CD set out!)
- bone-headed policies of not allowing trivia. One man's dis-interest is another man's interest!
- censoring criticism, i.e. WOW, etc.

Re:Wikipedia? (1)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705372)

While I agree, I must say that Wikimedia Foundation has set its goal as 3 Million USD, while earlier it was only 1 Million USD. It is natural for ratios to be skewed.

Not a Wiki-fanboi here.

Re:Wikipedia? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705434)

Sorry, the people that get articles created nowadays arent creators.
Most of them are just self-serving wankers, add-shills and crackpots that are better off gone.

man'kind' failing the human race (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704416)

in the end, the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the of gaining yOUR release from the hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in.

some 'races' we'll wish we lost;

for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it?

we're intending for the nazis to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather'. []

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continues on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US;

gov. bush denies health care for the little ones []

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids []

all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

whilst (yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles; []

still making his views known worldwide, whilst many of US keep yOUR heads firmly lodged up yOUR infactdead.asp(s) hoping (against overwhelming information to the contrary) that the party LIEn scriptdead pr ?firm? fairytail hypenosys scenario will never end.

for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available after the big flash occurs.

'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

Re:man'kind' failing the human race (1)

pravuil (975319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704738)

I'm sensing a foreigner trying to pretend he cares about the US.

yeah, maybe an alien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704824)

why does anyone have to think in terms of who's side you're on. results of that mindphuking hypenosys distributed by the fauxking life0cidal execrable no doubt. do we even have a clue whois yOUR real 'enemies'?

it will become much clearer to all when the lights come up again. see you there?

Re:yeah, maybe an alien (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704970)

You are trying too hard.

What is 'life0cidal'?

And please keep the lights down. I'm trying to sleep.

oh goons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704466)

you are so goony.

Stocks -- the prime example (2, Interesting)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704474)

Watch highly touted stocks when they hit a wall. A lot of stocks are bouyed by the push to love them and nothing else. Once the push stops, the bottom falls out.

Re:Stocks -- the prime example (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704832)

It makes sense, though. Reactionary idiots (buy/sell) the stock because it looks like it's going to [skyrocket/tank]. Smart people do as well because they know the effect that reactionary idiots can have on the price, and that someone will be left [out in the cold/holding the bag] when the mass of idiotry drives the costs and returns [up/down]. Basically, everybody's fighting to steer the same boat, so nobody has the individual power to take it anywhere but where everyone else is pushing.

Re:Stocks -- the prime example (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704982)

I don't mean just in terms of the rational/irrational market. Also I mean in terms of the fact that stocks aren't dissimilar from MMORPGs in that a core of people recruit new buyers, and once the success gives out they fall apart along similar lines.

Its called Attrition -- Cultural war for everybody (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704490)

I think cultural groups only last 10 years on average before braking up normally or changing into something else, but with a global war on culture going on this process of attrition is accelerated... until nobody breeds above ground.

That's it, guys (1)

Chris Daniel (807289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704668)

I'm leaving!

cool read (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704686)

kind of applies to a lot of groups.

In other words sometimes forums become unpopular (2, Funny)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704688)

People just get tired of them and when a few most vocal persons leave or are kicked out everyone else leaves too. Woow.

Shallow article, unsupported by facts (2, Interesting)

Fall01 (1203458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704858)

The idea that membership will generally grow or decline in spurts is nothing new. While this subject could be grounds for an interesting analysis in the context of an MMO social organization and how it affects the community of a specific game, but when no specific examples are given with supporting data, why exactly would someone write an article, or more importantly, why would anyone want to read it? The Escapist has long suffered from filler articles, written by people who claim to be game designers, but in reality many of the contributors have only plotted out a D&D dungeon back on graph paper. This article is no exception. By reading the article, it's fairly clear the author is a member of this so-called "Great" organization, the Goon Fleet, and like most of the kids who bounce around in the Something Awful crowd, they seek attention without really justifying it. Come on Escapist, get some quality control. You need to fill a set amount of pages each week, but please avoid publishing articles that don't offer an interesting subject or conclusion.

New Definition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704886)

Gee, I always figured the "Failure Cascade" referred to Internet Explorer's interpretation of the Acid2 test.

Reminds me of SW dev teams (4, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704946)

I've had the pleasure of working on two "dream teams" in my career -- not really just software development teams, but entire organizations including management and marketing. Both eventually collapsed. In both cases, team members gained a lot of experience and were ripe to move out anyway, but hung on to the team longer than if there were no sense of belonging. Then, some catalyst enters from the outside. It's just as the article describes: The catalyst causes one person to leave, and then another person leaves because the team isn't as valuable anymore, and then everyone leaves because the team isn't worth anything anymore.

In one case, the catalyst was the company being sold. In the other case, it was near-criminal behavior of a newly added team member.

Re:Reminds me of SW dev teams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21705558)

Oh yeah? I worked at Enron, Worldcom, and SCO! I'm starting to think I'm the catalyst.

Within Tolerance. (1)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705050)

Nevermind, I thought it said 'Resonance Cascade'.

Risk takers versus responsible followers (4, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705128)

I've seen this often in real life, going back as far as 21 years ago.

Personally, I'm a risk-taker, but not a long term responsible individual. My failures in business or projects have generally come from a lack of finding responsible people who can carry the long term needs after the risk I take starts earnings its rewards. I ran a succssful BBS 2 decades ago, and I saw many failures due to there being a risk taker who took off, leaving the responsible ones with no "leader."

I think the same is true in social groups, although maybe it isn't the factor of having a risk-taker, but having a natural leader who others look to for support even if it is purely "spiritual" in nature.

I run a not-for-profit that works with hundreds of churches, and I see the same thing. The leader leaves, retires, dies, whatever: the church falls apart. Recently a large client of mine went under after 25 years of being in business. The boss left, leaving his responsible managers but no leader/risk-taker.

There's nothing to see here. These are proven truths over millenia that have surfaced in every area of life: politics, businesses, faiths, even families. If there isn't a new leader to move the group in a direction away from complacency, the group will fail. Sometimes a responsible individual finds a natural tendency to lead/take new risks in new directions, but I'm not sure its a matter of nurturing those skills. I do believe firmly that there is a natural propensity to either being responsible, or being risky. A very rare few have both talents, although I personally have never met anyone like that. It's either one or the other, generally.

The majority, though, seem to have neither. They want to follow in hopes that some day they will lead, but in the end they're driven to neither. They follow long enough until it is obvious that they'll never lead (because they don't push to become an obvious leader/risk-taker), so they fall away from the project. In this case, though, I don't see many failures, because a natural leader has a tendency to attract others to the project. When that risk taker gets bored, runs out of money, or gets caught up in something else, the project fails.

Every project I've worked on that has failed has been my fault, and no one else's. Usually it boiled down to getting bored, but sometimes it was pure irresponsibility. Sometimes it was a lack of trusting another person to take over for me, at which point I put too much burden on the future leader, and they left. Life lessons.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?