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It is my view that most on-line discussion sites are thought of the wrong way. Most are trying to create traditional media on the web but just make it interactive. The web is a new medium, not just an add-on to ExistingMedia?. It should be thought of differently.

FuzzyCommunityModeration? [theory B]

Sites like KuroShin, (also see CommunityOfGlassHouses for futher discussion of the problems with OnlineCommunities), try to solve AbstractThought? by using numbers. You are supposed to score -1 for an article you don't like, +1 for an article you do like, 0 if you are ambivalent to the article and +1(FP) for an article you would like to see on the front page. -1,0 and +1 are absolutes. HumanOpinions? are not absolutes. The -1,0 and +1 on KuroShin are interpreted different ways by different people. If someone doesn't agree with an article they will score -1. If someone thinks an article is badly written they will score -1. But what if you think the article is badly written but you agree with it, what do you score? The problems arise when you try to force the MidPoint? into an absolute.

Only having one scoring system doesn't work either. You are lumping writing style and opinion into one score. Surely you should have two scoring systems - one for style and one for opinion. And if you don't agree with an article, regardless of style or content, then surely you shouldn't be able to vote down an article. You should vote 0 for disagree. AmbivalencyIsAMidpoint? between agree and disagree, not an absolute. Voting 0 for ambivalency is forcing it into an absolute. Ambivalency should score a half (0.5).

There should not be any dumping or posting of articles either. All articles are in a queue, all of the time, and can always be voted on, and are always editable by the article author - so an article could improve through editing and rise in the queue. Everyone votes once for each article. If the article is changed by the owner then everyone can vote again. So it would be possible to vote 1 for well written and 0 for agree/disagree. The higher the score for writing ability the higher the article rises in the queue. The top ten articles or so are displayed on the front page. The opinion vote, along with the style vote, is used for personal filtering. You might want to view stories which are well written but only 10% of the people on the site agree with them - you can then see the minority view of articles. Or articles which are badly written but 90% of people agree with them - you get to see the majority view. You filter the articles to your own tastes. One discussion or community site could then host majority and minority views.

A similar system could be used for moderating comments on articles as well. -- PaulMillar

Further Reading:

FuzzyCommunityOrganisation? [theory A]

A FuzzyCommunity is designed to be organic and to evolve 'naturally' - but should start with some sort of underlying struture(?) (detailed below). [Another idea would be to create a FuzzyFaq on a 'discussion' site and then inform others what its all about. They could then have their own site which links to your FAQ etc etc].

If there is chaos then order will return naturally. Do not gripe about perceived 'noise'. Either add or detract to a FuzzyCommunity. Decentralization and fragmentation are key to a FuzzyCommunity.

At the center of a FuzzyCommunity is the main FuzzyFaq. The main site would be a discussion forum of the main FuzzyFaq - each rule having its own discussion link as well as a main, general rule discussion area.

The second level of a FuzzyCommunity would be general topic sites eg Religion, Philosophy, Fiction, Lifestyle etc. Each general topic site would defer to the main FuzzyFaq as well as maintaining its own FuzzyFaq - a sub-set of the main one. Each general topic site would also syndicate the headlines from other general topic sites [max number? all of them?] via RDF/XML. Any article, discussion etc which was straddling general topic areas would be cross-posted to all relevant general topic sites [XML - semantic?], thus the ensuing discussion would be cross-posted as well. Each general topic site would also provide a discussion forum for its own FuzzyFaq. Each general topic site would also provide syndicated headlines of each sub-site under it.

The third level would be sub-sites of the general topic sites eg Religion would break down to catholicism, buddhism, atheism etc. Each sub-site would syndicate headlines only from other sub-sites under the general topic site. Articles submitted which straddle sub-site areas would only be posted on the relevant sub-sites. Each sub-site would have its own FuzzyFaq - and provisions for discussion - and would defer to the general topic site FuzzyFaq - which in turn defers to the main FuzzyFaq.

This could then break down into other sub-sites - each one following the principles laid out for the other sites.

It would try to combine a CommunitySolution, LegalSolution and TechnologySolution in building a FuzzyCommunity.

There would only be one main FuzzyFaq for each FuzzyCommunity. If someone wanted to set-up another main FuzzyFaq then it would have no relationship with other FuzzyFaq sites or communities.

There would be no single program for a FuzzyCommunity site. Each person could write their own program - in their favourite programming language - for their own site - and release the code freely if they desire under any licence, eg [GnuPublicLicence], they deemed fit. The only requirement for a FuzzyCommunity site would be that it follows the FuzzyTheory? laid out here and on the FuzzyFaq page.

In theory a FuzzyCommunity could feature article submission / discussion sites, WebLogs, OnlineDiaries, fiction sites, NewJournalism? sites etc. Anything should be possible as long as it relates to discussion, community and Fuzzy.

A FuzzyCommunity should be more flexible than other online communities or discussion sites and be able to adapt to new users, changing atitudes etc. This is a start and theory only at the moment.

 -- PaulMillar

Further Reading:


FuzzyCommunity (alternate definition): A community composed of people who do not presently enjoy a real sense of community, and who desire a flexible, adaptable and tolerant community in which they can feel comfortable and even accepted, and who for the time being have placed themselves in contact with others under circumstances and conditions which are loosely if at all defined.


If the community is to evolve naturally, why are you already creating a fixed hierarchical structure and canonical pages? That may not fit the AppropriateMedia. In fact, I recall having this same argument before when comparing WebLogs to wikis. Instead, now I think we should have no rules but colour everything International Klein Blue. Links, text, background. -- SunirShah

At the moment this is all theory. I believe there should be some sort of underlying structure. Perhaps 'naturally' is the wrong choice of words here. -- PaulMillar

What need does all this fuzziness hope to fulfill that can't be fulfilled with your normal freeform Wiki? -- FrancisHwang

True, most of this could probably be fulfilled within a Wiki:WikiWeb but, perhaps, not everyone wants to use a wiki to create a discussion, WebLog or community Wiki:WebSite. If I were to kick this off I would use a wiki [FuzzyWiki?] as my 'site'. The 'dilemma' I have at the moment on this idea is whether to have a proper structure underlying this whole thing or to elaborate on the ideas of a FuzzyFaq and FuzzyDiscussion and then people could either use / alter the my FuzzyFaq for their own sites or create their own, and to have sites which adhere to a the ideas laid out about FuzzyDiscussion. -- PaulMillar

What specifically do you want "proper structure" for?

And why must "proper" mean hierarchical?

The Web isn't hypertext, it's DECORATED DIRECTORIES! -- TedNelson

This is why I put this info up on a wiki because I wanted these sorts of questions to try and clarify the idea and theory in my own head. At the moment I'm torn between continuing with the structure idea and including the FuzzyFaq and FuzzyDiscussion within that, or dropping the structure and just keeping the FuzzyFaq and FuzzyDiscussion 'philosophy'. A FuzzyCommunity would need some sort of structure, IMHO, and hierarchical would be best for the purposes of syndicating headlines, articles and discussions across the community - general topic sites would syndicate other general topic sites and its own sub-sites; sub-sites would only syndicate from other sub-sites under the general topic site and so on.. Improvements to my ideas are welcomed. -- PaulMillar

Paul, I still don't have a sense of what specific need a FuzzyCommunity is trying to address. I'm not talking about the theory. Theory is only interesting when it's made manifest in specific examples. Maybe you could try finishing this sentence: "I want to have an online community like a Wiki, but a Wiki couldn't work because people might ..." -- francis

It's a 'new' type of community. It is built using the ideas laid out in FuzzyFaq and FuzzyDiscussion but it is not a apecific site design. It could be a wiki, or it could be a discussion site like KuroShin or it could be a WebLog. The sites would also use syndication to share information between them to stop stagnation of discussion and fragmentation of any site, to stop if from getting too big, would be encouraged. It could be a wiki but it's also NotWiki? -- PaulMillar

A community wider than a single site or even a single software paradigm. Bound, however, by the syndication paradigm and formats, which provide the technical infrastructure tying the sites together, and by the FuzzyFaq, providing social infrastructure.

What are the benefits of this? As noted above, the benefit is allowing more interaction between different subcommunities. For example, I'm sure there are various UseNet groups discussing similar ideas to MeatBall. The FuzzyCommunity imagines bridging these communities to the extent that common social norms develop.

I do believe that syndication is the future, and certainly some FuzzyCommunities? will develop, but I question the centralized nature of the primary FuzzyFaq. Certainly this will happen in some instances, but I imagine that most SyndicatedCommunities? will not be FuzzyCommunities? (as defined here to mean a SyndicatedCommunity with a central FuzzyFaq). In most cases I would expect that each site would have it's own different norms, and while there would be some norms which persisted across site boundaries (example: WikiWiki and MeatballWiki both have UseRealNames), I don't expect that most subcommunities would want to actually give up their sovreignty to a FuzzyFaq.

For example; could you see an alliance even of different wikis (say, WikiWiki and most of its SisterSites), all of which point to a certain common set of pages to which define acceptable behavior "within this wiki alliance"? I would expect this would not happen.

However, perhaps a weaker form of FuzzyFaq would work out; one which was not held up as "THE rules", but merely as "a guide to wiki etiquitte"; the FuzzyFaq would note that it was not authoritative, and sometimes individual sites would have norms that different from the FuzzyFaq. In fact, there may even be two or three "most central" FuzzyFaqs floating around within a given FuzzyCommunity, each slightly contradicting the others.

The difference from the scheme given above (theory "A") is that the sites wouldn't consider themselves to be "under" any of the central FuzzyFaqs, and indeed some sites in the community wouldn't follow those norms at all. The hierarchy, also, I don't think would be as strict, although I do think a "fuzzy" version of what was said above (a hierarchy of more general to more specific topics) will develop.

-- BayleShanks

See other pages on community: CommunityBuildingOnTheWeb, Wiki:CommunityOfTrust, VirtualCommunity, Wiki:WikiCommunity

See also Wiki:CategoryFuzzy

[CategoryOnlineCommunity] [CategorySyndication]


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