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OnlineCommunities are built through creative efforts. While creativity is often best found in collaborations between others, in BarnRaising towards SuperordinateGoals, that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone agrees on how to achieve that goal. It's not dangerous if the CommunityDoesNotAgree on the means to the end if it can afford to let TheIndividual members follow their own paths there. People need to allowed to follow paths that best fit their personal needs. Everyone is different, with different strengths and weaknesses. What works for you may not work for me. After all, it's impossible to predict every individual's requirements, so it's better for the individuals to take charge of their own destiny.

Further, often the productive creative talent in TheCollective is not maximally utilized if there is only one avenue of output. Giving each individual the freedom to act will encourage them to use their creative energies. If they can share and exchange their creative output with others in the community, then everyone might benefit as well. This will increase the diversity of TheCollective and help fend off GroupThink. If they can freely exchange their creative output, in a FreeMarket?, then competition will cull deadwood and provide incentive towards increasingly better results.

Competition can be a drag. In the RealWorld, capitalist competition makes business life "nasty, brutish, and short" to paraphrase Hobbes. But in that environment, people are competing over capital, which is both resources (and therefore necessary) and power (and therefore craved). Since there are often too many tangible resources (EnlargeSpace) and no meaningful power (as power is modulo the RightToLeave), being Baron or Baronness of an OnlineCommunities will often provide no real value at all beyond RewardReputation. If the competition is only about reputation, then you will much more likely improve your reputation if you AddValue? in general, rather than if you are nasty and brutish towards others.

Thus, in online communities, we experience more co-opetition--co-operative and friendly competition; a form of HealthyConflict. Here, each individual is encouraged to follow his or her own vision and share the results with others. Competitors can collaborate since they don't intend to play a ZeroSum? game, but rather do some BarnRaising towards a SuperordinateGoal, albeit taking individual paths.

Therefore, create a LittleEconomy around your OnlineCommunity. Use an EconomicSolution to encourage people to follow their visions: give them space and resources to do so. PublishData? so they can build privately on top of the PublicCommons?. Facilitate the FreeMarket? exchange by giving them a PublicMarket? to exchange their accomplishments. Create space for them to discuss what they have done with one another.

For instance, many OpenSource projects provide a patch and PlugIn? LittleEconomy for developers outside the core development group, such as MoinMoin that provides a MoinMoin:MacroMarket. This also works in other contexts, such ViewPoint posits multiple digests of content produced, which is also realized in part by WebLogs and DelIcioUs?. WinAmp? created the whole notion of skins--GUI overlays that graphical artists used to change the look of the player.

You will find that a LittleEconomy will enhance the fun factor of the OnlineCommunity. WinAmp? become wildly popular largely in part because people could make such beautiful interface looks. Further, TheIndividuals creating the new material will have a greater emotional attachment in the community since they have invested time and energy. Moreover, they will have expressed themselves, which is deeply important to many people. Also, allowing personalization of their experience will maximize the community's value to people with different needs.

But, if your OnlineCommunity model becomes popular, say somewhere later down the InternetTechnologyLifeCycle, you will find that co-opetition rapidly fades and real competition begins, especially from the AdoringFans. Thus, avoid a big economy. LimitScope of the economy to just within the community. That way it remains fun.


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