AOC Chapter 4

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Ch 4: Concerns and challenges

(Suggested Vignette – Jimmy Wales, someone else with issues)

Challenges include the ability to sustain a vibrant, active community and motivate community members to participate. Herding the cats and how much control to maintain are additional concerns.

Examples & Remediation Strategies:

Section calling out common on-line community problems and suggesting fixes

  • *Excess of Control:* While there may be communities that thrive on tight control, in general participation is a voluntary act and participants choose to linger where it feels good. There are plenty of examples of thriving on-line communities dying back when leadership decided to exert excess control. Possible remediations: 3-Day Rule. Distribute Leadership
  • *Heckling, SPAM and Hostile Language:* This is a classic issue that nearly every community faces. Email and online Forae are lousy at conveying subtle emotional content. Misunderstandings abound when what you actually want is measured self-expression and communication. Technology has created a new type of "junk mail" that is proving a problem for some on-line communities. Poor impulse control afflicts some community members and archives last forever. Remediations: Moderation, Instant Feedback (on and offline), Assisted Apology and Desired Behavior Modelling, Filters
  • *Appropriate Discussion:* Another sort of problem is off-topic discussion threads (include examples). Need to balance remediation efforts with natural affinity such topics represent (if taken up by the community). Remediations: Start or suggest a spin-off community, gentle reminders to stay on-topic.
  • *Alpha Personalities & Competing Opinions:* Encouraging equal participation can be difficult if you have a few very vocal community members. Remediations: Switch to another tool (IRC may work better than mail list). Allow both opinions in a way that ends the argument (Wikipedia example)
  • *Illegal Behaviors:* Section about potential legal liabilities implicit and explicit.
    • Copyright and Trademark violations
    • Trade Secrets
    • DMCA
    • Government monitoring
Additional Concerns:
  • Rate of Growth
    • Resisting temptation to spawn single-topic discussions
    • Dealing with too much traffic
    • Pointer to more on scaling in subsequent chapters
  • Co-opetition
    • Imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.
    • Dealing with mass-defections
    • Cross-posting
    • Differentiating
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