The devaluation of social networks

According to Metcalfe’s Law, a network’s value increases exponentially with every additional member. I would argue that not every member of the network helps to increase its value.  Some people purposefully try to make things difficult for others.

Some people do not add value to a network. For example, on Youtube lots of people create their own videos and even more people leave comments. If you notice, most of these comments are asinine at best. Most of these comments actually detract from the value of the network because the information presented isn’t accurate, nor does it help anyone. It’s just additional text you have to slog through.

I watch DJ Qbert’s Youtube channel and occasionally scan the comments. Someone wrote something along the lines of “Who does this new guy think he is? DJ Spooky is much better. This guy will never amount to anything.” If someone wasn’t familiar with DJ Qbert, they might take the comment at face value. To set the record straight, DJ Qbert has been providing aural pleasure since 1990, won four DMC World DJ championships, released a bunch of CDs and is arguably the best scratch DJ in the world. So comments provided by people not qualified to respond the videos are detrimental to the network’s value. Without someone vetting detractors, misinformation spreads.

If one person starts to spread rumors or misinformation, they devalue the network. Every incorrect comment left in a network requires someone to rectify the information. The person correcting the error only serves to cancel out the detractor because that time would have otherwise been used to provide additional commentary or benefits to other parts of the network.  Because of this, the effort needed to maintain the value of a network becomes burdensome and some networks will eventually collapse if the detractors out number the producers.

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