At some point in the early 2000s I pretty much lost interest in trying to be part of the "webcomics community." I was never really a big part of it to begin with, because when I started in 1996 there WAS no community, and most of the people in that community (as it formed) were people who either had serious artistic skills or who were interested in developing them. I wasn't -- for me, the comic was a means to an end. (I always considered Help Desk a political comic with a very narrow focus -- the computer industry -- and it was my platform to rant about the idiocies that plagued it). But I joined Keenspot shortly after it formed, so I did actually get to meet (and develop some friendships with) other cartoonists.
But it pretty much stopped there.
At some point, in the early 2000s, cartoonists began to get very concerned about their "respectability." It's understandable, in hindsight, because that was when there were a wave of success stories, including Penny Arcade and PvP, and when syndicated cartoonists started to notice... a little bit. And their reactions were dismissive. Generally the way a part of the traditionally published crowd is now, actually. And there was a movement within the webcomicosphere to try to purge the ranks of webcomics of the "undesirable" cartoonists -- the ones who were just trying it for a laugh, or who weren't talented, or who were clearly not serious about improving themselves, and taking themselves seriously. It created some very entertaining flame wars (and attacking other artists was one way to gather publicity back in those days. Scott Kurtz was pretty good at it. I actually benefited from one of his rants when he decided to open up on User Friendly and used me as a "better" example. My site crashed from all the new traffic on that day).
Honestly? I really hated that whole scene. But that "scene" became a pretty big thing, and I started ignoring most of the webcomic community as a result. There are individual webcomics I read and artists I like and admire, but I don't consider it my home. My webcomic is something I do because I do it, and that's pretty much the extent of my identity as a "webcomic person."
Around the same time I started doing Help Desk I was also involved in the online music community at MP3.com. It was a pretty different experience. I was horribly unsuccessful at it to a great extent, but I was part of that community, because that community wound up being inclusive even when it really didn't want to be. I mean, before MP3.com I didn't pay attention to other genres. I was a punk musician and my interests were: punk rock (and associated genres -- oi, ska, etc.), industrial music, Lyle Lovett, and Johnny Cash. After MP3.com I started listening to more rap, country, jazz, big band, R&B, etc. because I was introduced to all these people and I got to read about them and the process they used to actual build their music. I'm still mostly a punk and industrial guy but the exposure to a community that was open to different things helped me appreciate those things.
What was the difference? Well I think the difference was that music has a strong tradition of indie music to begin with, and punk rock has always had a DIY ("Do it yourself") ethos which was adopted by indie musicians of all stripes to varying degrees. There were indie comics, but they were thought of as "other" from mainstream comics. That's just my theory. It could be wrong.
The music community disintegrated, eventually, because of money. MP3.com went public, then instituted Payback for Playback, which offered a limited pool of money to a very large pool of musicians, and that started teeth-and-elbows competition that tore MP3.com apart. Then they got sued out of existence, and musicians drifted to a number of different sites that tried to fix those problems in different ways. But they didn't. I've lost touch with all those musicians. I still play their music, though. Damn, there was some good music.
Anyway, I'm starting to get that webcomic vibe in the world of writing these days. I've been slowly scaling back the writing sites I lurk in, and I'm pretty much down to three places now. I think very soon this will be the only site left. I really can't tolerate the vibe at the Passive Voice any more. I occasionally go to other writer sites because the writers themselves are entertaining, but I have no patience for closed communities and cliques and I can't be bothered.
Which is a shame, because I don't know a lot of people who do what I do except for on the internet. And while I'm not a particularly social person, it does help to know and hear from and read posts from people who are going through the same things, and struggling through the same things. But there's too much exclusionary, sniping, self-congratulatory bullshit going on, in both the self-publishing and traditionally published worlds, and I just don't care. None of the people engaging in this behavior has impressed me enough to give a damn what they think the rest of the world should be like.
Part of this is because I am an unbelievably arrogant human being. But most of it, I think, is because I think there's too much of a "we got to take advantage of this unique level of accessibility, and now we're trying to close the door behind us and not let anyone else in" mentality that inevitably seems to set in when a community that was traditionally exclusive is broken wide open. The first few waves in "invaders" get successful enough that they want the world to be exclusive again. They want to be the new star-bellied Sneetches.
Anyway. I'm posting this here because this is one of the few places where DON'T see this mentality. For which I am eternally grateful. Maybe it's because webfiction has been around long enough that everyone got past it? I don't know. At any rate, the way things are going this will be the only community where I lurk, and that time is coming pretty soon. I don't know if there's a word for "sort of like misanthropy, but not that acute and not that generally applied, focused only on artistic communities" but I'm headed there quick.