[Home]PeerPrivilege

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PeerPrivilege is a term I'm coining for the delegation of privileges to your peers in an unbalanced way. This is a good thing, because it gives members of the community responsibility. It's a privilege because it can be taken away, so excessive powermongering can be avoided.

This is a fairly common practice. Typically, members elect leaders to run committees or the community at large. Another example is a volunteer PoliceForce where certain members have been given special powers to keep the peace.

SlashDot uses a method of RandomPeerPrivilege in order to ensure power cannot be centralized. -- SunirShah


"Why not let the community police itself?"

No reason. SelfPolicing is valid. It's (roughly) how democracy works. The community can delegate responsibility by consensus, and by consensus take it away. Indeed, the whole notion of peer privilege is all about the community running itself.

When BarnRaising, someone's got to be in charge of the "heave-ho's" It's no big deal. The comment about powermongering was a response to the alternative of "nobility", or a kind of upper crust, or ClassSystem?. Ironically, in England, one form of this is called peerage. -- SunirShah


"delegation of privileges to your peers" The point here is that the owner of a Wiki generally has greater control purely by virtue of being the owner. Through having physical access to the server, backups etc. they can do things ordinary users can not, up to and including taking the entire site offline. "Delegation" thus is not about introducing new powers, it is about spreading the existing powers around a bit.

"in an unbalanced way" This is the controversial part. It is not obvious that this "is a good thing", because it is effectively taking responsibility away from those who are not in the privileged clique. -- DaveHarris

Well, they can hardly be peers if they they a clique. It has to be unbalanced because it's (practically?) impossible to dole out responsibility equally, nor is it appropriate as not everyone is equally capable. --ss

Some division is unavoidable - the owner is always going to have more control than anyone else. That isn't to say that further, artifical divisions are a good thing. (Or a bad thing - when I say something is controversial, it doesn't necessarily mean I disagree with it; it's just an attempt to focus discussion. I wrote the above partly to emphasis what I see as the non-controversial parts.) -- DaveHarris

One issue is not so much that people are less capable, but that some are less well-known to the owner. This is an OnlineIdentity thing. We may only want to give certain powers where the RightToSue? exists. A corollary is that we shouldn't necesarily feel insulted if we are left out of the trusted clique. -- DaveHarris

Certainly some people are less capable. That will work itself out naturally. I keep thinking of XP's Wiki:DoTheSimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyWork rule. Any community stratifies naturally, and most attempts to shape it are both unnecessary and ineffective. Lets deal with problems as they arise, not try to anticipate them and create the infrastructure to deal with them in case they arise.


That will work itself out naturally.

Exactly. Though you have to be careful to avoid the "All natural" anti-pattern or the "Flower power" anti-pattern (?). Artificial substances are also natural in a way, and natural substances can be deadly. If the community decides to build infrastructure, then let them. I'm not sure why you're reading that there is some force from above pushing privileges around. That would also not be peer privilege. -- SunirShah


Here's a perhaps clearer idea of what I mean: Someone has to go buy the beer. You have to choose a person to do a job. The job is the privilege. If the person is your friend--or a peer--then it's PeerPrivilege. There is no class struggle. -- SunirShah

There's gotta be a simpler name for this, although I'm not quite sure what it is; CommunityJob?? TemporaryCommunityJob?? CommunityAssignment?? CommunityAssignedJob?? I tend to just like CommunityJob?.

Then, if you want to distinguish it from a position of "power" (by which I mean, a position like "congressperson" or "prime minister" where part of the job is to make substantive decisions for the community. Although, as was pointed out above, every job involves some degree of power), you might have another term like CommunityOfficer? or CommunityOfficial? for those sorts of positions. -- BayleShanks

Later in life (after campaigning), I have realized the term is Dictionary:delegate. The term is better because there is no connotations of power. The delegate just acts on the community's behalf. As the process delegation is sprinkled throughout the page, it seems that is in fact what I was talking about. Now what is a good pattern name for this? I think any name that would allow delegates to grab power for themselves without general community consent, say through a gaming strategy (cf. VotingIsEvil), is not what I am referring to on this page. I think the concept of peer is a good one, rather than some imbalance of power. PeerDelegate? then. -- SunirShah

Hmm, I agree that "delegate" is on target, but I don't think PeerDelegate? is the clearest possible phrase either. Let's keep thinking about it. -- BayleShanks

We could use Imperative-Object form. DelegateResponsibility; akin to DevolvePower, except responsibility is shared, whereas power is concentrated. When you DevolvePower, you create responsibilities, but individuals can only handle so much, so they DelegateResponsibility to other CommunityMembers.

Isn't it just DelegatePower?? The example in the intro is electing leaders to run committees or communities. That's chiefly a delegation of power, less of responsibility, as people are still partly responsible for the actions of the person they elected. --MartinHarper

Peers have the same "powers"; at the very least I'd like to differentiate this pattern from DevolvePower as a lateral delegation across peers rather than a vertical one down the PeckingOrder. You are simply delegating responsibility, noting that responsibility usually creates power but not always. The person going to buy the beer can make a choice which beer to buy. You can constrain his choices, "Buy Heineken!" but if the beer store is out of Heineken, he may make a choice on the fly. On the other hand, you can truly constrain his choices. "If there are any problems, call us." Then you have delegated responsibility without power.


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