I always find Clay Shirky’s writing insightful.
The posting on his site called Broadcast Institutions, Community Values talks about the problems that publishers can get into when they start hosting communities. Communities look like natural extensions of what publishers do, but they live by different rules, and this is what Shirky points out.
Media people often criticize the content on the internet for being unedited, because everywhere one looks, there is low quality — bad writing, ugly images, poor design. What they fail to understand is that the internet is strongly edited, but the editorial judgment is applied at the edges, not the center, and it is applied after the fact, not in advance. Google edits web pages by aggregating user judgment about them, Slashdot edits posts by letting readers rate them, and of course users edit all the time, by choosing what (and who) to read.
This also applies to blogs which seem to be to be like online communities without an organizing body or software of any sort.