[Home]PrecedentDecision

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Using the RoyalWe is very common in any social group. It's often the case that some individual will speak on behalf of the group in order to present a single voice to TheCollective. Most of the time, the individual understands the group well enough to do this without a problem, and the group is happy to have someone speak on their behalf so not everyone has to speak. But TheIndividual is not TheCollective. There will always be a question of validity when some one uses the RoyalWe to speak on behalf of all.

The hope is that if the individual speaks against the consensus of the group, some dissenter will speak up to contradict the individual. GroupThink might cause people to stifle their own individual opinions for what they perceive to be the group's consensus.

As a result of this uncertainty, the AntiAuthoritarian and the troll will often challenge the RoyalWe to divide and conquer the collective. Once you sow doubt into the minds of people that they are not united, it is much easier to create a SeparationOfPositions? that will allow you to walk right up the middle of the two factions. Thus, it can be very dangerous to use the RoyalWe against someone very machievellian as it may result in a wider conflict within your own collective. On the other hand, the collective must use the RoyalWe to demonstrate the weight of its opinions when they do reflect the rough consensus.

Therefore, use the RoyalWe defensibly. Ensure there are stopgaps to challenges to the RoyalWe for both the outsider posing the challenge, and the collective falling into a SeparationOfPositions?.

First, you can only really reflect a consensus on issues that have been discussed previously. Otherwise, there is no basis for your claim that the group thinks one way or the other. Worse, it is a violation of FairProcess to speak on behalf of people who have not had a chance to see their voices reflected, and thus you may alienate your own group. When using the RoyalWe, particularly in CollaborativeHypermedia, point to the previous discussion to demonstrate the precedent for your assertion of consensus. If you have no precedent, don't use the RoyalWe. Instead suggest your own opinion, and ask if others agree or disagree. By the end of the exercise, you may have a new precedent, and one that will include the opinions of the outsider. This is FairProcess.

That precedent may be challenged. The outsider might suggest it is obsolete. Remember that the challenger has no basis to claim this, since it is unknown whether or not it is true. It is also unreasonable to demand the collective continuously reaffirm what it thinks. From the point of view of TheCollective, the written precedent is the decision standing (a LegalSolution), and we should at least adhere to that now.

On the other hand, the precedent might be wrong, or the CommunityDoesNotAgree. The appropriate way to address this is not in a FlameWar, a ForestFire, or an AntiAuthoritarian jaunt, but rather to adhere to what has already been decided for the moment while discussing the situation calmly and maturely on the page in question. If the community does not agree, this will be a good way to round out the ideas that lead to the consensus, and possibly even change the consensus. For the outsider, contributing in this coherent and orderly way is a good way to build a PersonalRelationship with the collective, and conversely a way for the collective to practice RadicalInclusiveness through FairProcess. Even if the final consensus still does not agree with the challenge, the challenger may come to accept the consensus as well.

CategoryConsensus


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