Build­ing Com­mu­ni­ties with Soft­ware is an old arti­cle of Joel ‘on Soft­ware’ Spolsky’s that deals with social ‘third places’:

The social sci­en­tist Ray Old­en­burg talks about how humans need a third place, besides work and home, to meet with friends, have a beer, dis­cuss the events of the day, and enjoy some human interaction.

These were the inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops and the quiet, smoky bars of the nineties. Now we have online social net­works. Joel’s pri­mary axiom of devel­op­ing a thriv­ing online community:

Small soft­ware imple­men­ta­tion details result in big dif­fer­ences in the way the com­mu­nity devel­ops, behaves, and feels.