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Kings that are so arrogant that they suppose they are "god". A GodKing is a site owner or administrator who uses their special authority more than absolutely necessary. Wikis (especially MeatBall) generally frown on this sort of thing, so any such use may be considered an abuse. A GodKing is a bad thing (an AntiPattern; see CategoryRole).

Most people think it's fair that the owner of a site has omnipotent powers over what goes on his or her computer (with FreeNet being a notable exception), but this only works well when the proprietors are BenevolentDictators. When the owner's absolute power corrupts him or her absolutely, then the entire community breaks down as it tries to defend itself from the oppressiveness of this so called "god."

A good approach for a proprietor is to be pretty much LaissezFaire. You don't see "god" messing with our universe too much because it leads to cascade failure. You'll just put out one fire to create two more.

Another approach is to DevolvePower and provide some checks and balances. Basically, empower your constituents.

But it is your machine after all. Usually, though, drastic measures like playing god aren't necessary. Most people are understanding enough to respect reasonable stipulations like "no porn, no piracy."

However, if it isn't your machine--or your network--and yet you abuse your power, you may cause your own undoing. The most famous example of this was the Case of rec.sex (cf. UseNet) where the UseNet backbone cabal mistakenly assumed their power was constant, and so pushed things too far by failing to abide by a popular vote. The final result was the death of the UseNetCabal.

Contrast PhilosopherKing.

FlameWarriors calls her.

Glory and self-regard to him are God and law.
He thinks like a philosopher, but governs like a King.
-- Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the King of Prussia (translated from French)

To avoid to become a GodKing and to accelerate the building of new communities, a DistributedWikiForum could be a new strategy. -- FridemarPache

Preventing Collaboration

In the typical WikiLifeCycle, the founder does "frantic SeedPosting", and thus is one of the major content authors. By some poorly understood social norm this prevents contributors from actually doing any editor work: spelling, layout, welcoming, categorizing. How can the GodKing attract not only authors but also editors?

I've for a long time been contemplating the shift in power on MeatballWiki since I've become the script developer as well as a partial server maintainer. In particular, the very important process of modifying the script--the essential constitution of the place--is now at my whim. Before, even after community discussion, Cliff and I would argue sometimes for months over the priority of any development as Cliff would have to be convinced it was worth his time. If you'd like, consider the wiki as the House of Commons, the Editor as the House of Lords, and the script developer as Monarch.

Now that important BalancingForce is weakened, if not gone. My power is not just affective, but effective. Be wary. This is also why I maintain a full PatchHistory. -- SunirShah

from elsewhere

I'm not a GodKing. It used to be in the old days I had no more technical power than the average user. These days are different as I am now the script developer, but I had already acquired the title GodKing before that. Originally it was a joke, but now people are happier to call me a GodKing than an Editor. Perhaps somehow people have gotten the impression that I've been pulling strings behind the curtain. I haven't. Or perhaps people don't understand the difference between a GodKing and the Editor role I have chosen. I think this is probably the case here. When a GodKing dictates, users have no choice because the GodKing controls everything. As the Editor, I merely suggest. (As the script developer, that's another story.) I don't think I have ever dictated, not even to UseRealNames, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let people use pseudonyms. Just think though how I prevent that from happening compared to what means I have at my disposal to prevent that from happening. (hint: SoftSecurity vs. HardSecurity) That's the difference. -- SunirShah

didn't mean to offend; perhaps the term GodKing has negative connotations that I didn't realize; I was thinking of it more as "authority figure" in others' minds, whether or not the person has any real authority or has ever used it if they have. certainly I don't think you've been pulling strings. -- BayleShanks

Have you read GodKing? I think it's a pretty negative definition. "Kings that are so arrogant..." ;) -- SunirShah

I had always assumed that page was a little off from the actual use of the word; consider its use on OpenProcess, WikiCommunityBuilding, CopyrightTrap, TechnologySolution. Although while doing a search on GodKing I see other uses that I hadn't seen before that are used in a negative way.

-- BayleShanks

There can also be a problem with being perceived as a God King, even when you don't want to be one: people become less willing to change things, and tend more to leave the decisions up to you. Any ideas on how to counter this?

Sometimes people want a king. Who are you to deny them? If wikis are NonProfit organizations, they need an ExecutiveDirector?. Assign your subjects specific roles and areas of influence; they will be happy to make decisions within them. As for the larger issues, you need to frame the discussion. Present the problem and the information, identify some possible solutions, and ask for their advice. Normally a few days of discussion followed by a vote (if necessary) will suffice. -- Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry

I have no doubt about that sometimes people want a GodKing, LaurenceParry - but why give people what a) you don't want to and b) what you think is ultimately detrimental to the space? I don't see wikis as NonProfit organizations, so maybe that is where I am coming from. MarkDilley

If you see the use of authority as detrimental, then obviously you will not become one, nor am I saying you should. Personally, I am willing to use authority where I feel it is useful in furthering the goals of TheCollective. By this stringent definition I am a GodKing, though my greatest use of authority was to withdraw WikiFur's ServiceMark? and DomainName? from WikiA. It is hard to say that this was "necessary", but the alternative seemed worse: increased advertising, and a loss of community control over presentation.

In many cases, the founder had become an AbsentLeader and had "sold the wiki" along with its domain name to its new host, often for significant sums of money; of those, I can't think of one that's managed to leave. On a WikiFarm, the host has extreme power over ContentOverCommunity wikis, and only effective use of authority by community members can counter it. -- Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry

I think this GodKing thing is an obsolete idea. It may have come from Ward's wiki, where Ward had such an overwhelming importance as inventor and host. But in fact the founder and host of a wiki is just the FirstServant of the community and if he would misunderstand his role he would very soon live all alone in his kingdom. Typically the discussion is started when newcomers jump in and argue about the existing rules. It's very silly to accept these discussions before they have contributed substantially. The really powerful people in a wiki are the regulars that come everyday. For they could leave and go elsewhere! The host is a prisoner of his place and his vision! So the host is forced to find a balance that keeps the regulars happy and makes guests comfortable. This is often tiresome and painful. The regulars should be aware of this - the host himself is unable to talk about this - and use their power with care for the best of the community. -- HelmutLeitner

It may be obsolete on wikis, but I think it's still prevalent on other online communities.

It is. I'm a BenevolentDictator where a takeover of sorts has introduced a GodKing who appointed a second level GodKing in place of a BenevolentDictator in the gathering place for the leaders, with predictable poor results for the community of leaders. Accepting that all things will pass and ignoring the community, gathering elsewhere, is the most popular current approach to dealing with the problem. It's uncertain whether things will pass before the community drifts away.

I don't even think it's obsolete in a wiki community. I'm currently in a position of semi-leadership on. Despite my best attempts, the small number of moderators still get treated like we are the final authority on the wiki. This may be due to the fact that the Urban Dead wiki is the first wiki contact many of our users have had, and are extending their experiences on forums and mailing lists to the wiki. It perhaps doesn't help that we're named "moderators" to boot.

But even outside this particular case, I suspect that users will suffer through a great deal of GodKing behaviour, if they feel that such behaviour contributes to some positive experience within that community. If a GodKing is, for example, touted as a major defender against trolls/spam/vandals/etc, other repressive actions may be forgiven. Also, some communities may not want the power - they'd prefer to leave the high-level power in the hands of a small number of people. -- LeeDavisThalbourne

From ShallowWiki:
fear of becoming a GodKing (no assertiveness means no leadership means no community)

leads me to think about being a union organizer in meat space. I do not play the role of GodKing in building unions, that wouldn't work. What I do is act as a LeadOrganizer?. I mentor and train people to think for themselves, to value their own opinions and emotions. Sometimes I take a leadership role, but most of the time when I am building a union, I recognize peoples qualities and ask them to do things, alone or with me. That is how I build community in meatspace, asking people to do things in a collective manner. -- Best, MarkDilley

I found the best balance to be when Cliff was the system administrator and I was the Editor with absolutely zero administrative powers. The tension between us, as Cliff wanted to do things, and I thought hard of how to DevolvePower (technical power) so that I (and everyone else by extension) could make the same decisions. Now that I am an administrator and an AbsentLeader without time, I find myself taking the easy route far too often. -- SunirShah

"A GodKing is a site owner or administrator who uses their special authority more than absolutely necessary" I thought one of the most widely made comments about "God" was use of special authority far less than what people considered necessary??? The ultimate LaissezFaire... --AndrewCates

Which God? A GodKing is a king who believes he is the God of the people, and who the people believe is their God. By steeping himself in divinity, he prevents an uprising against him. Egyptian Pharaohs are one example, and there are many others. -- SunirShah

Okay, Inca model or whatever. I was just being a bit thick and trying to composite the concepts. --ac

I think that this is not so much a role, as a WikiPattern?. Experienced person reacts to new to scene person, new to scene person reacts to experienced person. What are the things that are happening in this pattern? from either role, new/experienced? This is being said, not being aware of internet culture pre 2002. Best, MarkDilley

An interesting distinctive special case of this pattern sometimes emerges, which could be labeled KingGod?.

Well, when I joined WikiA's Lemony Snicket Wiki, I was given sysop status, but thought I was a better user. But, when the owner blocked me, I unblocked myself and vandalised, but one of the Wikia Staffers removed my admin tools and regex-blocked me from all of Wikia. --VanceMudgeman?

CategoryDifficultPerson CategoryRole CategoryGovernment


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