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Peer pressure is, according to Dogbert, what you do to people who (in your opinion) aren't your peers. There's more to SoftSecurity
than Peer Pressure, of course. Peer Pressure is important partly because it can reduce the incidence of vandalism, to the point where post hoc repair is viable for the rare occasions when it actually happens.
Peer pressure generally works on the basis of some sanction that can be applied collectively or individually. The key difference between PeerPressure and other forms of SoftSecurity is that peer pressure is generally directed at the individual, whereas SoftSecurity is generally directed at the group, or the behaviour. These sanctions might include (on some hypothetical "Fred") :
- Loss of respect/belonging: Most people need to belong and will work towards doing the right thing to be accepted into a given community. This works effectively for longterm members who have built up a good reputation (RewardReputation). However, respect and belonging can only be lost once, so this is a good way of encouraging good people to be even better, but is less effective against trouble-makers.
- DissuadeInteraction: Shunning / sending to coventry / client-side filtering. Users do not engage Fred in conversation. This makes Fred a temporary de facto CommunityExile. Some sites have software support for this in the form of "ignore" or "squelch" buttons (see CommunityWiki:IgnorePeople). Ideally, Fred feels lonely and either leaves or modifies his behaviour. Danger that Fred doesn't understand what's wrong about his behaviour because nobody talks to him. Ineffective if Fred is a natural loner, or doesn't care. However, if he doesn't care you can probably just wait for him to lose interest and exercise his RightToLeave.
- PunishReputation: Flaming / verbal harassment. Users tell Fred that his mother was a diseased baboon. Ideally, Fred doesn't enjoy this and leaves or modifies his behaviour. Ineffective if Fred enjoys being flamed. Danger that Fred responds in kind. Danger that flaming becomes generally acceptable behaviour. Danger that you become what you despise. In extremis, this becomes the TrialByFire? pattern.
- UserStalking. Users follow Fred around and check his behaviour and make this known. Some sites support this in the form of a WritersLog. Ideally, Fred responds to the increased attention by smartening up his behaviour - people behave better in a crowd than at home. Ineffective if Fred is a troll (WhatIsaTroll). Danger of squeeky wheel getting the grease. Danger if Fred has paranoid tendencies. Danger if Fred feels that his privacy is being unfairly invaded (see PrivacyRequired).
- Censoring / Moderating / Correcting / server-side filtering. Users modify Fred's contributions to remove problems. Some sites support this by giving all users rights to edit all content (ie, wikis). Other sites support this by having a button to notify admins of bad content (eg "yikes" button on HTwoGTwo). As well as increased attention, Fred is shown precisely what is and is not acceptable. Ideally, Fred realises his error and fixes them. Same dangers/weaknesses as watching, to a lesser extent. Ineffective if negative behaviour cannot be censored - IE, an OffensiveName on a wiki system where usernames are not publically editable. See CommunityWiki:PreemptiveModeration.
- Violence. Users beat Fred up (or threaten to do so). Generally not very effective online as hard to track down location of user's body, which may be in another country in any case. More effective in "real life". Danger that you become what you despise. See also BodilyRisk?.
General problems: because peer pressure is directed at an individual, it is less effective online, when new identities can be created comparatively easily. Another problem is that a significant proportion of the population have had very deep and emotionally powerful experiences with peer pressure during their formative years, which are referred to as "bullying". People who were severely bullied to the point of considering (or attempting) suicide, and lots of such people exist, tend to have strong reactions to perceived bullying directed either at themselves or at a third party. Often this means protecting the object of peer pressure against "victimisation" or "scape goating".
Also, peer pressure works best in a community populated by repeat visitors, which is small enough that repeated interactions with the same individuals are common. Usage in other contexts (or having one of those contexts suddenly thrust upon it temporarily) will get some undesirable results. IteratedPrisonersDilemma formalises this.