Nice article from Dalton Caldwell’s post on critical mass vs network effects. In it, he talks about the “growth above all else” dogma and how that can actually hurt the sustainability of your platforms (or company’s) community’s growth.
I particularly liked this part:
The power of the asymmetric model + global feed
Twitter’s growth model is a nice blueprint for getting a critical mass and then growing to global scale. Specifically, if you launch with a small, dedicated group of interesting people that can asymmetrically follow each other, along with a global feed of all content posted, you can feel like you are the member of an interesting and vibrant community.
As the site starts to scale, the early userbase will depend less and less on the global feed, and use their own feed/following list to crank up or down the amount of information they are presented with.
The asymmetric follow model also takes care of some of the strange things that happen on Orkut, Facebook, Google+ etc. Strangers can choose to follow you, and @-reply to you, but it doesn’t feel like they are “putting” their troubling messages on your content.
It should also come as no surprise that Pinterest and Instagram followed the Twitter blueprint of asymmetric follows + global feed to scale from a small critical mass of interesting people into a massive, global community. Those sites were fun and useful to early adopters on a small userbase, and have managed to keep their community mostly solid throughout massive growth.