Originally Posted by topos
This is really a corollary of the law of internet forums (most of them; I can think of a single exception from my experience): everyone talks, nobody listens. Do you really think people actually read AND understand the posts of others? Most internet forums are, for worse, about people listening to themselves talk. It's going to be worse on a forum like this one, because any thread promoting a look is sure to attract the masses who seek validation for their own look (look at me!!!) as opposed to an honest attempt to engage in an intellectual exercise of following an idea.
The internet is not inherently "social," despite Mark Zuckerberg's insistence to the contrary. Most internet users fluctuate between two behavioral modes: 1) validation-seeking, and 2) information-seeking.
Validation-seeking behavior is, as Topos puts it, "people listening to themselves talk" and hoping for others to give them kudos in some fashion -- be it in the form of agreement, +1, "like," or any other of the numerous forms of noncommittal affirmations that have cropped up in recent years. To someone in this behavioral mode, the other forum members are little more than props, or sounding boards, or laugh tracks.
Information-seeking should not be confused with a desire to learn. Information-seeking is really about looking for ideas and inspiration. Cool pictures, interesting outfits, recommendations, etc., that can be appropriated and put to use, intangibly or tangibly. (Information-seeking is to learning what fast food is to nourishment).
My point is that a thread on SF -- like a thread on any other forum -- is going to cater, in mixed ratio, to #1 and #2. What Manton is describing is really just the fact that the proportion of people in #1 mode tends to outweigh the proportion of #2s over time. And this is an intrinsic pattern of internet forums. I'd encounter the same trend if I went to, say, a car forum and started a "Post classic cars here" thread, detailing very specifically the velvet rope with which we cordon off "classic" from "contemporary." That rope would be breached in short order, and those doing the breaching would insist that "classic" is a subjective term, i.e., they were born in 1990, therefore, a tricked-out 1996 Accord is "classic."