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If we can be friends in the process, that's great, but it's a subsidiary goal, at most.

Most OnlineCommunities are CommunityOverContent. That is: the primary purpose of the community is oriented around members of the community, and the various artefacts produced by the community are regarded as side effects - potentially useful, but of no great value.

However, for some communities, the content produced is not a mere side-effect, but is the SuperordinateGoal: the thing that brings the community together in the first place. Here, the community is merely a means to the end of some valuable finished product, rather than an end in itself.

Wikis can be used in both forms, but have a number of advantages for ContentOverCommunity sites. The lack of technical editing restrictions detaches content from its original author(s), which helps reinforce the primacy of the content over those who merely create the content. Further, wikis can avoid hard distinctions between the content, and discussion about the content.

ContentOverCommunity sites tend to use some form of OpenContent license to grant the RightToFork - the negative consequences of forking on communities (cf ForkingOfOnlineCommunities) are less important than the benefits to the content. Other consequences of the low value placed on community are:

The emphasis on TechnologySolutions is necessary. Without a strong community, CommunitySolutions are limited in their power. Thus, you need heavier tools, like TechnologySolutions. However, as with any concentration of power, when abused, they create great problems. This is why ContentOverCommunity OnlineCommunities are often hijacked by malfeasant GodKings without much protest by the community. As long as new and better content is being generated, it is irrelevant whose sensibilities are overrun. For the most part, this works very effectively amongst a certain personality type: the builders. Those with a greater need for affiliation will be less likely to enjoy these environments.

A balance may be created by constructing a caretaker/human relations society of the project, so that there is a community for those who care about other people whilst the rest of the people build. This may be more efficient as even builders have feelings, and thus conflicts arise. For instance, allowing good productivity to mitigate poor social conduct will reduce the project's overall productivity as one productive yet mean individual will cost you ten productive yet nice individuals who would have attracted a hundred more if they had remained. This is also why the most successful ContentOverCommunity communities have BenevolentDictators who are very good as social leadership, such as Miguel of Gnome and JimboWales? of Wikipedia.

Yet relying on one person's time, patience, and sanity is unstable, even if it is easier in the short term.


[GoogleSideWiki: Content and Community Synergy]

The dichotomy ContentOverCommunity vs CommunityOverContent appears to the author unproductive: In a more and more complex Web, valuable content is generated preferably by team efforts. Team productivity is fostered by good community relations and from the author's experience good social relations nearly come automatically from dedicated work to create attractive content. -- FridemarPache


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