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One of the biggest problems of wikidom today is not WikiSpam but the tendency to redraw fundamental parts of communication from the main online community platform ("stage") to BackStage systems. The point of this page is to show why BackStageCommunication is used (it must offer advantages to individuals, otherwise they wouldn't do it) and how this may harm online-communities. But note that there is a difference between PrivateCommunication? and BackStageCommunication and that there may be situations where these are unavoidable.
Typical BackStage systems:
- personal e-mail exchange
- "admin only" areas within BBS systems
- chats or mailing-lists parallel to wikis
Advantages for individuals:
- avoids the scrutiny of TheAudience
- informal core-groups can be formed that "feel power" over TheAudience
- allows a "performance on stage" creating artificial "images"
- individuals get an information advantage over TheAudience
- secret communication is possible
Harm to the online community:
- TheAudience doesn't get a complete consistent picture of what is going on (reduced content value)
- it is harder to participate because the complete picture (arguments) is not available
- it is less attractive to participate because the core-group is not accessable (lack of openness)
- some faith in the core-groups members is lost sooner or later
Note some overlap to BackRoomDecision, but phenomena and problems are not identical.
Some refactoring notes. How do BackRoomDecision and BackStageCommunication differ? Perhaps we can unify the two pages around some framework? BackChannel? is another term used, with another more positive spin, which fits into the Communication set of pages (CommunicationChannel). ('lo, for the grace of EditableTitle) -- SunirShah
- I think BackRoomDecision may be seen as a special case of BackStageCommunication. BackStage means primarily a place where one can relax from performance, a place of increased privacy. -- HelmutLeitner
Back channel may also be Wiki:OutOfBand
This is an online version of gossip, which has had a bad ethical reputation for ages. A 19th century Jewish authority (Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan) on the topic took the strong position that there should be no private conversation about others except for the purpose of business deals (to warn of sharks) and arranged marriages, and then only if the speaker has engaged in soulsearching about the integrity of their intent.
BackStageCommunication is ethically problematic but unavoidable in human societies. Speech is always liable to misunderstanding, public speach has a multiplied risk of misinterpretation. People will always seek trusted smaller groups to clarify conversation in private. This becomes disfunctional when it turns into cliques and cabals. Groups do and should create ethical norms for BackStageConversation?, but banning is unrealistic.
...Ok, just read BackRoomDecisions - will refactor integrating ideas about speech ethics and community online -- AdinaLevin
- I think gossip is different, it may happen anywhere. Perhaps we will have to separate private communication from backstage communication. -- HelmutLeitner
See also GetARoom