Abstract

We present a qualitative analysis of interviews with participants in the NoSleep community within Reddit where millions of fans and writers of horror fiction congregate. We explore how the community handled a massive, sudden, and sustained increase in new members. Although existing theory and stories like Usenet’s infamous “Eternal September” suggest that large influxes of newcomers can hurt online communities, our interviews suggest that NoSleep survived without major incident. We propose that three features of NoSleep allowed it to manage the rapid influx of newcomers gracefully: (1) an active and well-coordinated group of administrators, (2) a shared sense of community which facilitated community moderation, and (3) technological systems that mitigated norm violations. We also point to several important trade-offs and limitations.