Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters.
One of the Networked Neighbourhood researchers who led a study of hyperlocal sites including Brockley Central has blogged about the question of diversity in this sort of digital community. He says:
The founders I've spoken to about this have set their sites up with a vague sense of social purpose but no explicit intention to promote community cohesion. The sites don’t set out to be or claim to be democratically representative or culturally representative or accountable.
Those we've looked at in our London study are clearly dominated by people who are relatively affluent, educated and empowered. These are the people who put energy into helping the site grow, contributing and generating social capital (vaguely defined) and civic involvement to sometimes enviable levels.
Around them and among them live clusters of less affluent people, renters rather than owners perhaps, people from minority groups and with English as a second language, perhaps people who may not have home internet access but who use telecoms shops in the high street to call family in other countries and access websites in their own language.
We're pretty sure this is a fair summation of the situation on Brockley Central and elsewhere, as it is of nearly every type of civic institution. So long as Brockley Central provides a level playing field for all communities and keeps the discourse relatively welcoming, then we can sleep relatively easy. Certainly, for all the accusations that Brockley Central readers are all one thing or another, there is plenty of argument to suggest there is diversity of opinion on here, if nothing else.
We do our best to seek out stories from across the community, but we know that we see Brockley from a certain perspective that is not shared by everyone. Likewise, the rest of the middle-class editorial team. We want more local voices to speak up through Brockley Central, so if you have a suggestion for an article on a topic not covered here, please let us know.
What we found most surprising was the suggestion that the BC community might largely be middle aged. By the standards of most community groups, this site's editorial team is fascistically young.
However, Alexa - the website ranking tool - has some interesting observations on the demographics of our users. Although its findings need to be taken with a pinch of salt, it reckons that you are indeed disproportionately old, educated and (to a lesser extent) male. It suggests we need to quote The Social Network less and Citizen Kane more.
According to Alexa, you're also more likely to use the site while at work and far less likely to have children than the average internet user - which could explain all the moaning about children in the Brockley Mess that takes place during the hours of 9am-5pm.
The full Networked Neighbourhood research is published later this year and we will let you know its finding. Thanks to the reader who sent the article to us - they describe themselves as a 25 year old white, non-British person, who prefers to remain anonymous, natch!