[Home]OpenCommunity

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See RadicalInclusiveness, OpenSociety, OpenOrganizations

An open community allows anyone to become a member. Wikis are typically considered open communities.

Questions: Is this true? Is this possible? Is there no difference between a guest (an occasional contributor) and a member? What if someone doesn't accept the rules of the community? What if someone hasn't the potential to add to the goals of a community?

Contrast OutcastNewcomer to see varying levels of social openness. Contrast LoginsAreEvil to help understand the varying levels of technological openness.


An open community:

1. Has few, if any, barriers to entry, providing anonymous and public access to its discussion forums.

2. Has no clearly defined leaders, or has leaders who derive their authority from their competence, leaders who tolerate and encourage spirited dissent from GroupThink.

3. Employs SoftSecurity measures rather than HardSecurity measures, and holds all security measures up to strict scrutiny.

4. Seeks voluntary compliance with CommunityExpectations, and does not appeal to the merits of GroupThink or the authority of a GodKing when challenged by a DevilsAdvocate.

-- DavidPrenatt


There seem to be number of theoretical problems with the OpenCommunity:

P1. "allows anyone to become a member" is a very unclear statement. One has to say what "member" really means, otherwise the statement is meaningless "open"-hype. [In fact this means: a community that realizes "anyone" is bound to be a "meaningless community"]

P2. There are no open communities (in the sense above) neither in meatspace nor online. The "anyone" is always connected to certain "minimum expectations". A public park is not open for people running naked, our society not open for killers, online communities not open for spoilsports or spammers.

P3. While a community may prefer and use a "soft mode", it is not in it's power to decide on this. The community may be forced to use "hard" elements by the outside (spammers may enforce a killfile, crimes enforce a police). A community can only decide to be "as soft as possible" and "as open as possible".

P4. The connection of "open" and "common decision process" is doubtful. In a way openness and decision making are orthogonal, you can have an open democracy or an open monarchy. On the other hand "open" will reduce the chance for "participation in the decision process" because this would add to the definition of "member" and therefore add to the "minimum expectations" (to decide with the community in mind). So "openness" must decrease "participation" and vice versa.

P5. The notion of "open" itself is doubtful, it has only meaning in relation to a potential "close". There must be a border to talk about open and closed sensefully. If you have no means to "close" (no measurement of difference, no security, no border) then it makes no sense to talk about openness (you wouldn't talk about the air open to the birds). If you have the means in place, you are obviously prepared to use it and therefore can't claim to be "open to anyone". A door can be open (constructed to be closed sometimes).

I think a workable model for an OpenCommunity might start this way:

(1) An OpenCommunity is as open and as soft as possible, but no more. It will not risk its own destruction by probing the utmost limits.

(2) An OpenCommunity develops a society to advance its rules and culture with (1) in mind. It defines what a member is and what minimum expectations go with membership.

(3) An OpenCommunity will care to defend (1), (2) and its members using soft security, but also - if necessary - using hard security.

(4) An OpenCommunity as part of a competitive process will have to design a decision process to ensure maximum participation and involvement of its members. Learning from history we may expect a slow development towards democracy (the system), transparency (the condition) and fairness (the goal).

-- HelmutLeitner

I absolutely agree with your statements Helmut. I have recently adopted a login requirement for members of the [SolaRoofWiki] because our site was attracting a large number of abusers who were attacking the site every few minutes and replacing pages with spam and creating new pages for spam. Our Yahoo forum continues to grow (now about 250 people) and we have been open to membership by approval basis for over a year and have little to no problems. My policy will be to allow any new applicant for membership to have the permission to create a [ProfilesPage] where the intended member can introduce him/herself and would be able to get "activated" by any existing member. Or we members can also invite new members who we know and provide login information immediately with the "membership" invitation. Openess consists of not turning away anyone that would like to join and who would respect the purpose of our wiki and contribute to its success.

Also, I consider the main sections of the wiki, which have the purpose of building a knowledge base, to be an [OpenSpace] where we seek collaborative work that imvolves everyone. At the same time we provide for [PersonalSpace] for team colloration and/or personal projects or wiki websites, and each are established as a separate PmWiki [WikiGroup] with separate Recent Changes and other wiki features that are similar to the main sections wiki. -- RichardNelson

All communities are defined by their borders. The word defined means this (finite). Communities must have the power to exclude or they cease to be communities and instead dilute themselves to become TheStreet?. It's also not surprising that the TheStreet? consists of the excluded and always clamours for more inclusive societies; a laudable goal, but not the total goal (i.e. RadicalInclusiveness is bad). The soft method is to encourage the RightToLeave and DissuadeInteraction, but that only works for those with emotional attachments to the community. Some people have economic incentives for remaining (e.g. spammers), so a solution can only be to increase the cost noticeably beyond their benefit, and that gets into HardSecurity. Economics is a cow.

Everything is about BalancingForces. We want to maintain a SafePlace?, but avoid the cost of enforcement. Further, we want an OpenProcess that is non-political to LimitTemptation of the AntiAuthoritarian. An OpenSociety is about regularization and OpenProcess--about making decisions explicit so that they can be made logical rather than political. We also want to attract new members, which means both avoiding PricklyHedges as well as making an attractive SafePlace? for them to come to. -- SunirShah


Discussion

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