I've been thinking about what it means for a community to flourish. It's a deep topic, probably infinitely deep. In my experience, though, it seems minimally considered by the people who are part of a community -- like most things, I guess, the default is to show up at the bar or the cafe or the restaurant, enjoy the vibe, and not think too much what it is, exactly, that you're enjoying. Maybe in certain particulars (they have the best local beer) but in the aggregate? It usually goes unexamined.
In SN terms, there's been some recent sturm und drang around territories, and are they the worst or are they great, and are they even sustainable, and what is their value, actually. And earlier discussions about how durable interactions here should be -- should they last forever, or disappear like fruit flies? People have written impressive long-form works about a variety of topics and some interesting meta-roundups and even poetry and quasi-biography and real-time experiments in human resourcing.
Anyway, point is, SN is eclectic and interesting in a bunch of ways. To me, these are key elements of what it means to flourish, and it's so exciting to be a part of it! But I know other people have quite distinct opinions about what a functional definition ought to be, either in general for an online community, or for SN in particular.
(And somebody, way back when I was first here, even disputed whether it was a community at all -- to him, it was just a news site, and so it was no bigs if someone figured out how to drain the wallet. I guess I've been rolling this question around in my mind ever since then.)