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Radical Inclusiveness is a technique to avoid conflict between communities: You want to reach all the people. You want to avoid a dichotomy between UsAndThem. You want to internalize conflict and (hopefully) avoid violence. Radical inclusiveness makes ConflictResolution an important part of your community.

Arguments against radical inclusiveness:

Arguments for radical inclusiveness:

1.1. RadicalInclusiveness overly focuses on complainants
1.2. RadicalInclusiveness is against BarnRaising
1.3. RadicalInclusiveness is a reaction against Radical Exclusiveness
1.4. How this applies to Meatball
1.5. A simple rule

1.1. RadicalInclusiveness overly focuses on complainants

Arguments about inclusiveness revolves around outliers, and more accurately, highly visible outliers. Either we describe minorities that are otherwise underrepresented or experience prejudicial oppression that prevents their inclusion in discussions affecting their lives or we describe people that do not socially fit and therefore require special attention to include them in discussions. After all, the mainstream is already included. The idea is to make a political choice to trade off the efficacy or comfort of the mainstream for the benefits or morality of including a wider spectrum of people.

While the identification of outliers is much easier in societies with monopoly power over the people in question, such as a state, doubly open-ended volunteer organizations such as the vast majority of OnlineCommunities do not fit this model. These organizations are incapable of conducting a reasonable census or even identifying who wants to be involved or not. Instead, they can only react to what is visible. Disturbingly this highly skews the discussion towards the those who create the largest conflict (FlameWars)--rather than either those currently conducting themselves peaceably or, more seriously, valuable contributors who leave in silence.

While one might claim backhandedly that one very angry individual represents ten more reasonable people who left for similar reasons, that does not balance against those who left silently. In counterbalance, they not only represent ten valuable people who won't contribute, but the people who come here because of them as good people prefer to affiliate with good people. Further, the lower the quality of discussion, the quicker it lowers (cf. Wiki:FixBrokenWindows). Thus, in these cases, discussions of RadicalInclusiveness will not only shift CommunityExpectation"'s towards a race to the bottom, but it will evaporate gains faster than they are made.

Thus, unbalanced, RadicalInclusiveness is an AntiPattern as it is a lie. It only seeks to include one type of person (the maladjusted) as a weak method to alleviate conflict. Ironically, one would presume that attracting maladjusted people will only increase conflict until they can be realistically adjusted into the wider community, and the availability of quality mediators diminishes as they leave silently in response to the waste of their time.

1.2. RadicalInclusiveness is against BarnRaising

Quite often the people who complain the loudest are those who are saying something homomorphic to, "I want you to accept me for who I am because I refuse to change who I am." This may be interpreted in two ways.

On one hand, the fault may be ours for not being accepting. We may in fact be excluding someone with a valuable perspective even if they are generally good people who get along with others. Disagreeing with someone is not a legitimate reason to exclude someone if they sociable, amenable, conscientious, and generally are interested in BarnRaising. We must be pluralistic because that is the most valuable and therefore fun thing to be. Otherwise, we descend into GroupThink and fail.

On the other hand, those who refuse to change will naturally be excluded just from rubbing us the wrong way, or at least hopefully ignored until they discover the need for compromise and learning. We all experienced how BarnRaising has made us all have change and grow. This is central to the wiki way as using a wiki is more than learning the TextFormattingRules, it is also about growing as a person. Maintaining this perspective that we must all work towards the better answer, old timers and newcomers alike, is critical to working on a CollaborativeHypermedium.

It's also important to remember that we are the community. Our rules, style, and sensibilities attracted each of us including newcomers (even OutcastNewcomers) to join. We define ourselves by these sensibilities, so they are unlikely to change. One always has RightToLeave, which is not a specious right because it is a big Internet, but one also has the right to help. We also have a right to be ourselves, which is expected to be different than the rest of the Internet which is why we are an online community, not just a collaborative document. In short, although our rules are not set in stone, they are not to be fought over but built.

Intransigence traps us under our own egos. We are into BarnRaising, but intransigents are into themselves (as TheIndividual). Many project this perspective onto the rest of us who are into TheCollective. Collaboration is more fun. Wikis are inheritantly egoless in the sense that projecting your ego strongly into a wiki will only induce fighting and disorder; egos create invisible barriers, and as sensitivities are hidden they become buried LandMines. LandMines ruin the "arable" land of the wiki.

If you are having a hard time on an OnlineCommunity, then it isn't fun. If it isn't fun, it isn't worth it. If you are killing our fun, you aren't worth our effort either. That's the "harsh" reality of it. Like running through liquid corn starch, the only way through is to be relaxed. Make love, not war.

This extends to many different types of OnlineCommunities, but not all. It's a big Internet; somewhere out there is a space for everyone, and if there isn't, build one. (Meatball can help you with that too!)

1.3. RadicalInclusiveness is a reaction against Radical Exclusiveness

Most of us when starting an OnlineCommunity or any kind of organization are open to newcomers, and are quite warm and inclusive. When still at the building stage, you need new people; and since entropy has its brutal effects on an OnlineCommunity, especially since the hold on members is very tenuous as they maintain and exercise their RightToLeave, it is important to continuously recruit new members.

One day, however, something changes and the community stops being inclusive. They start forcing almost all newcomers to be OutcastNewcomers. This may simply be the ossification of a number of VestedContributors. After a while, enough emotional investment is put into the community by a few that they become the de facto cabal, unwilling to let go of the space lest its changes invalidate what they have built. They might be afraid of losing the friendships they have built in the process thinking that those friendships are soley vested in the space.

In other cases, a brutal FlameWar erupted in the past, say due to a troll or an AntiAuthoritarian. This flame war usually caught TheCollective by surprise, pulling at all the fissures inherent in any social organization. This flame war might have cost a number of people's participation, as they exercise their RightToLeave, sick of the experience, chiming "If it isn't fun, it isn't worth it." The collective may spend a long time unpacking the experience, digging deep into themselves trying to find the root cause of the problem as if it were their fault. This churns more of their faults to the surface (exposes the deeper recesses of their LifeInText), making them vulnerable to future attacks. They become overly sensitive as a result, and fear newcomers as threats, especially since some will snivelly extort their exposed weaknesses to gain power (not to be confused with those who wish to explore them further in GoodFaith). Thus, they become very insular, pushing away newcomers out of fear. Slowly, the community dies as members evaporate without being replaced by new members. They may mistakingly blame this on newcomers, extrapolating from that one foggy memory where they did lose members. FlameWarriors calls this scenario the [Godzilla] creating [Xenophobes].

RadicalInclusiveness is a reaction against this radical exclusivity as members with the desire to spread their own wings (vs. VestedContributors) or those who weren't affected by the Godzilla (say they weren't around, or they already reached ForgiveAndForget) feel this closing in of the community as destructive, rightfully so. As a negotiated position, it's a good one to have, as in the end if successful it will open up the community a little bit from its currently tight situation. That may be enough to get things moving again.

But be careful. If you are unfortunate enough to encounter another Godzilla or a threat soon after the first tentative steps at opening up, the xenophobes will close up tighter than before and your opinion will no longer be trusted. Take things slowly to build up the emotional capital to deal with these difficult situations. Hopefully you won't be too late.

1.4. How this applies to Meatball

We want to attract the right kind of people, though we might need to clearly define who those are even if this may exclude some participating today.

"I personally filter by the following criterion: is the person into BarnRaising? This is a collaborative project. It's a necessary and integral part of the policy to have community spirit." -- SunirShah

"I believe in reaching out to everyone who shows up and is interested. In my humble opinion, how else can a community be built?" -- MarkDilley

"If Meatball is just a bunch of interesting people talking about online communities, then sending people away is ok: Some people don't fit and should start their own community about online communities." -- AlexSchroeder

"The biggest catastrophy that could happen to MeatBall would be to attract 100 people writing here but only faintly in correspondence with the current goals." -- HelmutLeitner

"Meatball must be boring to everyone except those who are interested in it." -- SunirShah

"We should look at the GuidePosts being sent by the technological medium. The lack of logins, and the fact that anyone is able to post here without delay, just screams out "We are open to anybody". -- BayleShanks

"When we started we were open to anybody. That was a central value. The difference now is that the community has reached the point where it has to be very careful about how it organizes itself. TimeAndPatience? are becoming luxuries rather than commodities." -- SunirShah

"The lack of logins implies that meatball seeks to include everyone who wants to contribute, not that meatball seeks to include everyone. The RightToLeave is important." --anon.

I like UseRealNamesForWomen (re: for women), nice touch. We need a note to newbies, like StartHere?, ask them to take a tour of meatball, or something, show off meatball like in a musuem, inviting people to participate on the visitors page or something like that, after the tour. Interested people would stick around.

From UseRealNamesForWomen: "The things that put me off writing here isn't so much about the UseRealNames policy or GenderBias??, but the way the place seems to be largely run by 4 or 5 people, so it's hard to see how a newbie could fit into that without causing a disturbance." This is an interesting comment, because it seems to me to run counter to what Meatball wants. right? When I speak of radical inclusiveness for Meatball (and thus all wiki community), I am not speaking of trying to get every single internet person to find a home here. What I am saying is that we should do as much as we can to include people who find there way here and are interested in the community. -- MarkDilley

It seems like you are asking we be more gracious and polite. While I suppose we all know how to do this, the pertinent question is why don't we? But maybe the phrasing "RadicalInclusiveness" is not the right phrasing. Maybe WelcomingNature? or something like that. -- SunirShah

hmmm, it is not that I particularly care or want this place to be more gracious and polite. It is that I want this place to be better able to handle newbies, cryptonauts, anonymous users, etc. If we can figure out where someone is at, where they want to go, then it less energy expended for us, and hopefully a better experience for them and us. -- MarkDilley


1.5. A simple rule

I stayed the Cambie Hostel in Vancouver's Gastown area twice in the fall of 2004. One of the oldest hostels in Vancouver, it is certainly one of the largest and busiest hostels I have ever stayed at. They have a public bar as well as two floors of rooms above. Given North America's particular hostel culture of accepting "locals" who tend to be homeless, and given the hostel is 25 metres from East Hastings (frequently referred to as the worst neighbourhood in Canada), and given that drug tourists come to Vancouver frequently from the States to smoke pot, and given all these pressures that make the hostel not like the wonderful family run hostels in Western Ireland that I stayed at, they have a very simple policy. They instruct their staff--a staff who more than tilt towards progressive values--to not admit anyone who they would not want to share a room with.

Last night, I spent the night talking to manager of of the Green Room here in Toronto. The Green Room is one of the least expensive bars in the city, and its relative obscurity hidden behind Future's Bakery, one of the Annex's most popular venues, make it a quiet bohemian refuge in the midst of the city. Now Magazine has rated it the Best Bar for Drinking Alone in Toronto. As such, they attract the very crazy. While perhaps it would be nice to grant these people some degree of respect by allowing them to stay, if they did that, they would lose their normal, profitable customers. More to the point, it's unsafe. The manager told me her staff were reluctant to kick out anybody until one guy started throwing tables and beer bottles. The rule there is very simple. Staff are instructed to kick out anyone they would not want to share a beer with.

For a space like Meatball that is very communal, the rule is consequently very simple. If you need to know whom we need to exclude, it is anyone you do not want to work with. The WikiAsRoom is not very large. If we cannot work with someone, they have to go. After all, what's the point of them staying if they cannot work with us? This bar is not particularly well-defined, of course. We will still employ our ConflictResolution skills and LimitTemptation by being open-minded. But people who start trashing the wiki must be CommunityExiled. It's a Big Internet, and we all have the RightToLeave because we can find somewhere else to go.

But most importantly, we do not need to endlessly suffer for other people's problems. We need to draw lines, because otherwise our SelfishVolunteers will exercise their RightToLeave and then all that we have built here will be undone. If it's clear that things won't work out, there is nothing more to be gained by continuing to be in a conflict. Sane and mature people will depart without hard feelings, but not everyone is mature. We may then need to unilaterally end the conflict.

RadicalInclusiveness itself means to me to exclude only those you cannot work with. But the flipside is that we should LimitTemptation by attracting only those we want to work with. The matrix at UsAndThem speaks loudly to this. -- SunirShah

I experimented with RadicalInclusiveness on IRC. I started a channel to discuss politics. I invited some smart friends. My rule was only ban flooders. If a person repeated themself enough, I'd consider them a flooder and ban them. If they wanted to verbally abuse, no problem, so long as they could keep thinking up new insults. When they repeat too much, I'd criticize their output and warn that it might soon be considered flooding if the repetition continued.

I figured that verbally abusive right-wingers would get their fill of spewing bile and would go away. My main reason for doing this was wanting to show to the people in another channel that there was another way to handle disagreement, rather than merely banning dissenters. Anyway, no one wanted to be an Op in my channel with no bans! I eventually quit IRC except when I need to get answers to a technical question. -- PaulGaskin

I wonder if the technology of IRC with its channel Ops, disuades the kind of openess you were looking for? With the technical side of wiki being open, and the style of community we want here, professional, does the technology here persuade openess? MarkDilley

I am still working this idea around... here is an example of what I am trying to get at, remember it is only an example and it is far from perfect. [no one is responding to the...] -- MarkDilley

A good friend asked me why Radical Inclusiveness...and not just Inclusiveness, I have thought about it for a few weeks and I still am not sure why. It seems that some of the parts revolve around the newness of the technology. Something that I am curious about is that the idea of 'inclusiveness is just plain and simply radical to many people. MarkDilley

"The things that put me off writing here isn't so much about the UseRealNames policy or GenderBias???, but the way the place seems to be largely run by 4 or 5 people, so it's hard to see how a newbie could fit into that without causing a disturbance." -- from UseRealNamesForWomen.

"The biggest catastrophy that could happen to MeatBall would be to attract 100 people writing here but only faintly in correspondence with the current goals." -- HelmutLeitner

"When we started we were open to anybody. That was a central value. The difference now is that the community has reached the point where it has to be very careful about how it organizes itself. TimeAndPatience?? are becoming luxuries rather than commodities." -- SunirShah

I tried to write a bit about what I see as a the tension here, as a pattern seen in a lot of places. ExperiencedInteractionWithInexperience - how much time goes into helping people become - vs - be here by doing the work, participatory community, which I see SunirShah's brilliant statement pushing for: "So edit it. I haven't reached nirvana yet; I am not transcendently detached! It's too bloody cold in Canada to wander around naked in the forest." Best, MarkDilley

FootnoteAnnotation?: The best strategy to settle unnecessary conflicts is to prevent them. Please annotate this page or be an author of this page. -- FridemarPache

See also See OpenCommunity. / ThisWikiPageIsDiigoAnnotated
CategoryJargon CategoryManagement


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