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The community copout is a mistake made by organizations that want to avoid having to deal with their user or customer base. Instead of paying the money, time, effort, or attention that customer/user interaction requires, they use some kind of OnlineCommunity software to offload this task to the community itself.

The copout is not that the organization is using OnlineCommunity to provide service, but that it creates the community and then walks away. It maintains an UsVsThem? paradigm, and offloads any responsibilities on Us to Them. It doesn't use virtual community as a knowledge dissemination and feedback mechanism; rather, as a way to shirk the responsibility of communicating with its individual community members.

The essential mistake of the CommunityCopout is to forget that the organization itself is part of the community. The community for Zeeblod Paint Company is not just the people who use Zeeblod Paint -- it's also the employees and management of the company, their vendors, their partners, their distributors, the people who live near the paint factory, interior decorators, color theorists, etc. The community for a FreeSoftware project is not just the end users, but also the developers, the testers, the documenters (ha ha), people involved with related projects (operating systems and environments), etc. etc.

Having a true community with true multi-lateral communications and problem-solving is a damn powerful thing. It might be fear of that power that makes organizations opt for the CommunityCopout instead.

Examples of community copouts:

These technologies aren't copouts in and of themselves, of course. Organizations that actively participate in their online community can reap benefits. The copout is expecting that you can benefit from creating a community without making any connection with that community.

There are a lot of problems with the community copout.

As substantial solution to the CommunityCopout problem we now have OpenBusiness, specially the OpenBusinessWiki concept, where all peers are participating in the OpenProcess of CreatingAndSharingWealth. So there are no peers, who are supposed to make the valuable "dirty" work, an external "company" delegates to them, expecting from them to work for under 0,00 US$s (even expecting from them pay their own production tools (PC) and Web service provider costs). -- FridemarPache


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