Scott M. Fulton, II of ReadWriteWeb wrote earlier this week (care of my friend Jared W. Smith) about the debate in technology media circles about the value of device specs in tech reviews.

The discussion is centered around this question: when it comes to reviewing a device, just how important are the specs to a potential buyer?

Devices with good specs can have poor performance. Devices with seemingly inferior specs can perform better. And now, with some of the heavy lifting being offloaded to the web through cloud services and more, the specs inside of the box you are holding or looking at have, potentially, become less important.

One of the devices that has spurned this debate is Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet (which my parents gave me last night as a birthday gift). Many are billing it as the iPad’s first legitimate competitor. But, the reason they are doing that isn’t on specs. The iPad 2 is clearly superior in that metric. No, that claim is based on three things.

First, for the things that it does do (no camera, no microphone, etc.), it seems to do them at least reasonably well. Second, it is priced $300 less than the iPad 2’s lowest model. Finally, it is well tied into Amazon’s exhaustive content library, which includes books, movies, television shows, apps and much more.

Though the first item is tied partially to specs, it isn’t fully dependent on specs. And the second and third items aren’t really tied to specs at all. So, some feel that reviews should be made based upon the performance of the product for it’s intended audience and not based strictly on what is listed on paper.

To me, this has direct significance for online communities.

It is important that your community be functional and that it has features that people generally expect. But, the building of community is not really based on you having the best spec list, the most features or the best hosting. It is based on proficiency in those areas, with good execution and management.

It’s about people. It’s about you, the manager, and your drive and will to create a good experience for your members. It is about how you appreciate them and the benefit that they receive, which means that they come back and that they tell others.

I don’t believe specs are dead or meaningless. I believe they do have meaning, but that meaning must correlate with the value that the device, or the community, provides to people who would benefit from it.

You don’t want to ignore specs, but you want to reconcile them against the overall experience that you offer because a good experience is what drives sales and what grows communities.