Talk:AOC Managing Communities

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In the passion section, I would appreciate seeing something about a number of communities that have evolved around "making a difference" about a passion cause. Razoo, Zaadz, Care2, etc all focus on making change in our world and get quite a few people contributing and then going into the world to DO things. --Nurture Girl 10:59, 4 November 2007 (PST)

The writing on this is very laborous, every sentence outlining each and every logical step. What about more story as examples? --Nurture Girl 10:59, 4 November 2007 (PST)

It is quite clear where the author stands on particular groups (inside or outside), which can be a great way to be transparent...or not. Stylisic choice to consider. :-) --Nurture Girl 11:06, 4 November 2007 (PST)

Gift Culture or the Gift Economy is a PRIMARY component of community--online or off. If it doesn't have a gift economy, then it is NOT a community. I would like to see this section fleshed out significantly. --Nurture Girl 11:12, 4 November 2007 (PST)

I agree that gift culture is important, but it's a mushy concept, and I think it should be analyzed into its constituent motivations--which Dawn seems to here--which are easier to grasp. I'll mention more about that in a longer posting below.Andyo 15:14, 12 November 2007 (PST)

A note about trolling would be very useful, I suspect. I have had to walk lots of new community members through the whole "what is a troll and what can we do about that" question.

In my research on community-generated online documentation, I've found it convenient to divide the needs and goals into three sections

  • Availability. This is the most basic: if the material doesn't exist, nobody can use it. And motivation is key to this goal.
  • Quality. This can be enhanced by reputation and rating systems.
  • Findability. This can be facilitated by tools (specialized searches) and by people explicitly adding links to documents to suggest that

people read something else before or afterward.

Intellectual and Skills Building: it may be interesting to note that many people contribute to free documentation in order to discipline themselves enough to find out more about the topic themselves. They know what every teacher has found out: that by teaching something you learn it much more thoroughly yourself.

It seems that researchers identify three big reasons for participating:

  • Career advancement. This is also known as job signaling, a stupid phrase in my opinion, but very popular in economics circles.
  • Community-building. This has an altruistic component, but participants expect to benefit from others' contributions as well--there's a strong feeling of "mutual aid" and "I was helped in the past, so I want to pay it forward now and help others now."
  • Ego-boosting.

On a political site or another site with an obvious social impact, another reason is to change people's opinions and behavior. I think major sections could be developed to each of these reasons, along with other ones you have, such as "Intellectual and Skills Building" (which, as I said, can be a surprisingly powerful motivation) and "Social." The social aspect is particularly important because whether or not people join because of the positive aspects of socializing (I happen to think these aspects are quite important, even when people don't cite them), they most certainly can be driven away by negative aspects. In other words, nasty comments and unpleasant arguments drive people away. So you'd better pay attention to the social aspects of your community. This comes up later in the "Norms and Behavior" section, but it's worth saying in the "Social" section too. Hopefully we'll also have a chapter on "Dealing with difficult community members" to refer to.

I'd put "Career advancement" as a subsection under "Economic." The economic aspects you cover in this section are an interesting example of the "mutual aid" motivation I discussed earlier. I would leave this material where you have it in the "Economic" section, but explicitly say it's a tangible example of mutual aid. You could also generalize about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts on open projects.

I'm glad you point out that the idea of "gift culture" is not an independent motivation, but a complex interaction of the more tangible motivations listed earlier.

In addition to obscenity, there are other things that can be banned by community leaders, such as the advocacy of violent or illegal behavior.Andyo 15:14, 12 November 2007 (PST)

Major edits

Andy and Jean - Thank you so much for the feedback. I've done major re-writes on this chapter and significant re-organization. Let me know what you think. Foster 1/6/08 6:27pm (PST)

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