Geeks, Mops, and sociopaths in subculture evolution

  • Subcultures die when they start getting interesting because they are invaded by outsiders who ruin them.
  • Calls the outsiders “muggles”
  • Outsiders are either mops or sociopaths
  • This was influenced by The Gervais Principle
  • Subcultures grow from scenes
  • Scene is a group of creators who invent a New Thing
  • The group of creators riff off of each other in a scene
  • Scenes draw fanatics
  • Fanatics don’t create but contribute energy and resources
  • Creators and fanatics are geeks - they love the thing for the thing’s sake
  • The scene often draws mops
  • Mops are fans who want to get as much out of a scene while contributing as little as possible
  • Mops turn a scene into a subculture
  • Mops dilute a culture
  • Mops can cause fanatics to quit
  • Creators in a subculture generate social capital
  • Sociopaths mimic the creators but better
  • Sociopaths fool the mops and monetize them
  • If a creator can give the New Thing mass appeal they can escape the trap
  • From pure social value the cycles are good because there are many more mops
  • Ways of excluding mops can save the subculture but keeps it niche
  • Optimal mop to geek ratio is 6:1
  • Recognize sociopaths and eject them
  • Subcultural mode died around 2000
  • Geeks need to adopt some sociopathic tendencies





  • Scenes are people producing work aimed at impressing and one-upping each other
  • A minimum viable scene can be created by two people
  • Visa thread on scenes


  • David Chapman


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