Do you think new websites like this are ever going to break people's reliance on the big players like FB/Twitter or are they always destined for smaller and niche communities?
I'd bet on "smaller than Facebook" but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Small communities can be nicer, plus, every small community taking away from the big names is a tiny blow against them. They may never be killed and replaced by any one competitor, but pulled down and devoured by a horde.
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I couldn't agree more. I used to think small websites stood no chance, but that's completely missing the point: it's the websites that grow too large that lose. Look at facebook or reddit, there's no feeling of community whatsoever. It's just too big to feel relevant. Therefore, I posit that Dunbar's number is applicable to online communities as well: