MeatballWiki | RecentChanges | Random Page | Indices | Categories

Arguably part of the DarkSideOfCommunity, LandMines are subjects that the established members of an OnlineCommunity know (or believe) to be effectively off limits in that community, because of a past history of unproductive debate, because of strong and inalterable and emotionally-held opposing views on the subject by active members of the community, or for other community-specific reasons.

LandMines are by definition not officially documented, not forbidden by the written rules of the community (otherwise they would be mere OffTopic topics, not hidden and dangerous LandMines). The reasons that they are not officially documented include (but are not limited to): that the existence of a LandMine is often itself a LandMine, and/or that openly forbidding discussion of the LandMine subject would conflict with the nominal purpose of the community. Trolls may detonate land mines deliberately, which is another reason not to list them: SecurityByObscurity.

LandMines have negative effects on all members of the community, but the impact is perhaps harshest on newcomers, who aren't aware of the LandMines, and who will often innocently venture into them, and be puzzled / offended / offput by the resulting thrashing about by the established members of the community, who will take various awkward and insufficiently explained actions to avoid the LandMine detonating (insufficiently explained because a sufficient explanation would be likely to itself set the LandMine off). These actions will seem odd at best to the newcomer, and irrational and/or censorious at worst. (Private email to the newcomer will sometimes help. Sometimes.)

A LandMine is called a [Grenade] in the FlameWarriors.

cf. Wiki:DeadMooseOnTheTable.

Land mines on Meatball

**cough cough, um, there aren't any**


I have observed the phenomenon of an established compromise being broken unwittingly by a newcomer who does not realize that a compromise existed regarding a contentious issue. This sort of thing used to happen in MeatSpace all the time with cigarette smoking in business settings back when that sort of thing was prevalent. Is this a seperate pattern, or part of the LandMine pattern?

Are LandMines a pattern or an anti-pattern? hmm.

Ideally the response would be to NameTheConflict and then try to get the genie back in the bottle without rehashing old debate or opening old wounds. This is more difficult than it sounds.

Touchy Issues

Touchy issues may be a weak point for wikis. Wikis work fine for presenting ideas, definitions, for BarnRaising ... but for debate, I still prefer UseNet or plain old BulletinBoards? - heck, when people debate on them wikis start to look a lot like BulletinBoards? ! Or you get messy issues like Wiki:SplitByTopicNotByOpinion ...

If wikis could tackle touchy issues without them exploding, they may turn out to be a great source of energy - the problem with touchy issues is that, like nytroglycerin, they have too much energy ! The rigid, fireproof walls of newsgroups and bulletin boards manage to canalize that energy, but it soen't go anywhere, it just burns off into the air and you get the sane old discussion over and over again, occasionally stored in FAQs. Wikis can't handle such pressure, because wikis are built on community. The walls, floors and ceilings of wikis are people, and may catch fire - that is why ConflictResolution is a bigger issue than in bulletin boards or newsgroups.

In this case, the wiki has to be a bit of a DebateTool - or a debate place, or debate room ? Maybe a parliament ... some possiblities are CollaborativeCriticism, or DoubleWiki, or TypedThreadedDiscussion ...

Maybe something like an opinion wiki or a Wikipedia without a NeutralPointOfView would be a way of seeing it too.

note : a page like this one probably exist somewhere out there - oh yes and I'm probably wrong on quite a few points, so I hope this will get a good layer of criticism.

-- EmileKroeger

... ok this isn't much more than a LandMine - except that here I focus on how to survive and use them instead of how to avoid them. The problem is that when you have debate and clash of opinions it can harm the community - if the people care aboutt he issues enough. Maybe the idea here is that you need to detonate the landmines to use their energy (imagine the people talking in heated discussion forums putting the same kind of effort into something like wikipedia), and make the world a safer place.

Maybe in a DoubleWiki -type system, you won't have LandMine, or you'll have less, or theyd do less damage. But then in such a system you may not have a real community either. Maybe the important issue the difference between having a good confrontation of opinions and having a community - both have benefits, but may be incompatible. CommunityVerusDebate? ? At least, that's the difference I see between my first approach of the touchy issue of touchy issues and LandMine - from the point of view of the community, it's a LandMine, but from the point of view of the free market of ideas, it's not good to ignore a question -- EmileKroeger

Just to poke in a complete newbie's opinion on this: I don't think that leaving a LandMine unexploded is a good idea, but "channeling" it is difficult to do. I'm going to say that an argument over whether Jesus was black is likely to have two sides that are irreconcilable and cannot come to a consensus; that's what creates the LandMine in the first place. So I'm going to ask: Is there a solution? (A solution that doesn't satisfy, isn't; the suggestion to recan the worms just leaves the LandMine to be detonated again.)

...ConflictResolution is a bigger issue than in bulletin boards or newsgroups...

This doesn't fit my experiences. Most BBSs need moderators to delete offensive posts and keep the threads in order. This creates a lot of work and a two-class society that is hard to handle. Wikis don't need that. We have experiences from parallel communities (BBS / Wiki) that are tightly connected, with large problems in the BBS and hardly any problems in the wiki. It seems that BBS are systems for "ego-show-fighting" that encourage people to debate on and on. In a wiki you can hide your ego, remove misunderstandings and produce content even from conflicts. You are not cursed to repeat the same debates over and over. The only problem is that people have to unlearn some habits they have acquired in chats or BBSs and return to normal behaviour. -- HelmutLeitner



MeatballWiki | RecentChanges | Random Page | Indices | Categories
Edit text of this page | View other revisions