Sanger's Law

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Sanger's Law states that online communities' cultures generally are established quickly and then become very resistant to change, because they are self-selecting.[1] Those users who are attracted to the existing culture join (and may even be given sysop powers) and help reinforce that culture. Those users who are repelled by the culture leave (or are banned) and no longer directly influence the site. This is especially true on sites such as Wikipedia whose policies and leaders are chosen by the community rather than by a corporate or nonprofit CEO and his staff. Some owners, such as Wikimedia Foundation, take a relatively hands-off approach, allowing their communities to operate as they see fit after the initial structure and culture has been established.


  1. Sanger, Larry (2005). "The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir". [P]rovisional 'hands off' management policy had the effect of creating a difficult-to-change tradition . . . I suspect that the cultures of online communities generally are established pretty quickly and then very resistant to change, because they are self-selecting; that was certainly the case with Wikipedia, anyway.