Sources: The Evaporative Cooling Effect in BumblebeeLabs and Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs in LessWrong

”The people who are the most eager to talk are the ones who the least number of people are interested in hearing.”

Evaporative Cooling is the slow decay of a community into mediocrity as its most ‘high energy’ or high value individuals exit.

It is a way to think about communities in terms of the average quality of its members.

When the most high value members realize there isn’t much left for them to gain, they leave (Groucho Marx rule: you stop attending any event which would have you as participant).

This drop the average quality of the community down and the next level notices and then also finds it underwhelming. This continues until you get to a point where the people in the community are so unaware they no longer notice/care.

”If anyone can join your community, then the people most likely to join are those who are below the average quality of your community because they have the most to gain.”

Social Gating

Mechanisms which allow participants to self-select out of the group (vs traditional direct exclusion).


  • nicheness/technicality (high prerequisite knowledge)
  • social stigma
  • high cost (time and money)
  • difficult entry (hazing)

Geeks, MOPs, and sociopaths in subculture evolution

From the article of the same name

  • Creators: riff off of each other, produce examples and variants, and share them for mutual enjoyment, generating positive energy
  • Fanatics: don’t create, but they contribute energy (time, money, adulation, organization, analysis) to support the creators.
  • Creators and fanatics are both geeks. They totally love the New Thing, they’re fascinated with all its esoteric ins and outs, and they spend all available time either doing it or talking about it.
  • Mops: fans, but not rabid fans like the fanatics. They show up to have a good time, and contribute as little as they reasonably can in exchange.