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MeatballWiki has no formal membership system but beginning with Oktober 2003 an informal system seemed to take shape. This was first discussed in the context of the GoalStatement invention. Later this process was disrupted by the creation of the CommunityWiki. It's still unclear whether these events were in a way connected or not.

Probably needs reworking...


[Outdated, written Oct 23, 2003]

A month ago, if someone had asked "Who are the members of the MeatBall wiki?", nobody would have been able to answer. Of course there are well-known contributors and Sunir as "primus inter pares", but where to draw the boundary? Now this is different because Sunir created a kind of informal membership status, by defining the idea of a GoalStatement. Of course this will be replaced by something different in the future, if necessary. But this is the current best guess: if someone contributes here regularly and feels to define goals for his being here, then we can consider him as an informal member of the MeatBall community having all rights and obligations, whatever that may be...


[Current situation, written Oct 30, 2003]

Things have changed a bit. To solve the problem of "... GoalStatement is no good measure of membership. After all, anyone can create one...", Sunir changed the informal membership status.

Now the current situation is: "Members are those, that have been rewarded a BarnStar by the rest of the community."

Should we "require" both BarnStar and GoalStatement? It's a two way thing, that way, which seems superior.

No. Don't form cliques. I offered the BarnStar as a point of discussion, not a Constitutional amendment. -- SunirShah

At the same time Sunir gave the BarnStar award to a number of contributors, thus creating a clearly visible group of trusted members. Now a formal MemberList? is possible and a basis for making decisions is available (if there ever should be the need).

Whoa! I definitely did not correlate the two in my head. It's just that whenever I think about the BarnStar, I award them. I haven't created the habit in my mind yet to hand them out whenever they deserve to be. So, when I thought about the BarnStar, it occured to me some people deserved some.

We trust everyone. PrincipleOfFirstTrust. There is no meaningful definition of member. Some are more bound than others, such as Alex, Cliff, and I as we have GodKing powers and responsibilities, but we also have the RightToLeave. "Membership" is fluid.

I don't understand the need for a definition of membership. We have strong friendships here which facilitate a strong organization, sure, be we are not a GatedCommunity. I encourage random visitors, like ClayShirky (cf. SocialSoftware), to write here, fix vandalism, or even start reworking pages. I know I do this to random wikis when I read them, and I don't care if anyone knows who I am. The community marshalls the efforts, but it is an WikiPedia:Open_campaign.

We lead with our hands, hearts, and minds, not contracts and obligations. -- SunirShah

There is no need to push this forward or back. According to all I know - and what social scientist told me - it will come naturally and automatically when MeatBall develops further socially. -- HelmutLeitner

BarnStars are not a necessary condition for who I think of as "like a member".

In addition, if we did ever want to create a formal membership process (I don't, at least for the next couple of years), something easily given like a BarnStar wouldn't do; we'd end up giving out more and more BarnStars to people just because we want them to be "members" (i.e., my boss: "Bayle, I've been on Meatball for months! Why aren't I a member yet? Can you let me in?" Me: "Uh, sure, boss!"). -- BayleShanks


I think membership is ill-defined at MeatBall. I don't think a GoalStatement means anything more than a NamePage?.

Here is my personal criteria for whom I think of as a member:

-- BayleShanks


I don't think the GoalStatement is a good measure of membership. After all, anyone can create one, no matter how much of a member they are. Within the first week it was already subverted by a troll. Comparative prior measures included creating a namepage and using a UserName. Since they are completely optional and subjective, and not a DynamicValue, I don't think they by themselves measure anything. Their content may, but that's another story. But what about Wiki:JimCoplien? -- SunirShah

Maybe the BarnStar is a better measure as it is given by the rest of the community. -- SunirShah


At MeatBall there is no formal assigment of membership. It seems that there are currently some ways to become a (informal) member:

A contributor (member) may prefer to not to become (be) a member:

A community must be able to redraw the lines of membership, but there are no processes or rituals defined for this. Formally changing what it means to be a member would thus trigger a ConstitutionalCrisis - in order to have rules to change what it means to be a member, we would need rules to make those rules, and rules for rule-creation.


I think to clarify this it's important to ask, what can a member do than a non-member cannot do? Nothing. The only people with powers here ranging above others are CliffordAdams, ChrisPurcell, AlexSchroeder, and myself as we have server access. If the point is that members can create CommunityExpectations and non-members cannot, that isn't true. All you need to do is be sufficiently convincing. Even I cannot create a CommunityExpectation just because I want to, and I am the Founder, Editor, Owner, and GodKing. I have to use the same Meatball way of FairProcess: making a proposal and debating it for ages until a rough consensus is formed of what the best practice is in theory. One major power left to devolve is script development. Until then, it's Cliff, Scott, AlexSchroeder, and I who have this power. I'm definitely not happy with this. I want a PublicScript. I'm working on it. Another is ownership, but that is a few years away from being devolved. -- SunirShah

Technically anyone can do anything. Socially a non-member shouldn't, for example, start an AwardRitual. A non-member shouldn't rename a page like BarnRaising. A non-member shouldn't refactor the FrontPage. A non-member should accept the rule-interpretations of members. Dozens of examples could be given. -- HelmutLeitner

Another vote against formal membership. A lot of this conversation has focused on what outside forces make someone a member, so i'd like to point to the internal process -- my "membership" in wiki (WardsWiki) came when i realized that i really was welcome to edit and write whatever i wanted. This was a thrilling moment, and it makes a great metaphor for life. It may not be as obvious as it is in wiki, but the entire universe is open for our participation. --JohnAbbe


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