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A game a wiki could play that would invest the GodKing with real power. the idea is that the GodKing (and possibly other members of WikiRoyalty?) would be allowed to make statements using the RoyalWe, with the assumption that the "we" means he or she speaks for the Wiki at large. For instance, the GodKing would be allowed to say something like

We think you should have this discussion on another page.
We think this discussion is on/offtopic.
We endorse Wiki:RefactorFasterDeleteMore here.

where it is implied that the GodKing is here speaking for the "Wiki community", rather than just him or herself (the GodKing could still make personal statements like "I think this dicussion is offtopic" when they are only speaking for themselves).

For the RoyalWe to mean anything more than "I am the GodKing and this is what I think", however, it would have to be invested in the GodKing by the community, either implicitly or explicitly. One would expect that in a RoyalWe community, every once in awhile there would be an argument as to whether the GodKing really did speak for the community (and the outcome would have to be, yes, he/she does speak for most of the WikiCitizens? for the RoyalWe to continue to mean anything on that Wiki).

Since the Wiki is compared elsewhere to a Group Mind, it could even be

We are the Borg. ;-)

I have seen threads which indicate that on some Wikis the GodKing already holds this power, although the GodKings I have seen have used it sparingly, if at all, and not with the RoyalWe grammatical marker.

I don't know if this would actually be a good or a bad idea in a Wiki. I am not recommending that GodKings start speaking with the RoyalWe; the idea of it just sounded neat/funny so I thought I'd write it down.

See also EPrimeLanguage.

Bayle, MeThinks, this is a clever idea for disabling "GodKing like behaviour" in a peer to peer community. This style could be even amplified by using Shakespearian language to mark such statements as being friendly humor. (Haven't we ShakespeareOnline? ;-) Mar 11, 2002, 06:39 PST FridemarPache

A leader won't find much success talking in either first person in the RoyalWe tense. In either case, people will assume that you're speaking with too much authority, even if you're just trying to state your opinion or express a view held by a group you feel like you are representing. The easiest answer is to not speak at all. Most site proprietors find themselves in this position, which is ironic, because early in the WikiLifeCycle the site is seeded with their contributions.

For a wiki, especially this one, that is really aggravating because it indicates the site has completely failed--how can you have CommunityExpectations if [GodKingDoesAll]? There are no GodKings. The power is invested in the BarnRaising, not the person who set the initial parameters.

Unfortunately, saying so doesn't make it so. I am always worried about myself; I often let myself down. -- SunirShah

The easiest answer is to not speak at all.

Yes, getting to this point would be a shame. Certainly the GodKing needs to continue to exercise more care than other participants, but s/he needn't fall into silence.

EPrimeLanguage offers one good trick to exercise such care. But there are other such tricks, too. One of the ones I can remember off the top of my head is to try to avoid the use of the word "you", as it comes across as accusatorial. In general, one wonders if the GodKing should try to avoid the use of personal pronouns in general, as using them tends to turn the focus on personalities, and away from specific behaviors. So, in paying extra attention to the use of "I/we" and "you", the GodKing might prevent situations from turning into "us/them" battles out of nothing more than linguistic appearances, and how those appearances are received.

There are many other tips and tricks out there for '''active participation while avoiding conflict.''' Apologies if these exist somewhere else on MeatBall--a look in the places that seem obvious to me don't have them:

[Art of Conversation]

[Online Hospitality: Moderator Guidelines and Community-Building Tips ]


If the GodKing grows weary of exercising this care, maybe that signals burnout. Aside from RightToFork, does MeatBall have pages addressing strategies for dealing with GodKing burnout?

Use of the "royal we" is not restricted to the GodKing. Use of the royal we can make anyone appear as if s/he is claiming to speak for someone other than hermself. Where matters of practice and CommunityExpectations are concerned, especially in areas in which there is no clear community-wide agreement, one should make explicity who "we" are. Otherwise, the use of an unqualified "we" serves to suppress HealthyConflict.

That's very true. If we never say "we", though, it'll be very hard to convince people that something is a communal wish rather than a personal feeling. You'll basically have to have a bunch of people signing "me too" with their signature before any "i think you should do this!!!" statement is taken seriously. The RoyalWe works similarly but with the presumption reversed; it is assumed that the we represents lots of people unless others post "wait, i disagree". I've always thought that people would use the RoyalWe when they are under the impression that most meatballers would agree with them. It's probably pretty safe as long as that is understood.

However, maybe the inconvenience of having to have lots of people "sign on" to a statement for it to become a norm is worth it to prevent the possibility (or the appearance of the possibility, at least) for a false consensus to be stated. We could make some sort of threshold, like 6 people or whatever. When that many folks "sign onto" a statement, then we could allow it to be changed to a "we", and not before. This would not only promote HealthyConflict and AvoidIllusion, but may also promote community spirit because we'd be making decisions together in a more explicit and personal way.

I can't decide which way I would prefer. -- BayleShanks

Using the RoyalWe only works when there is enough comfort, trust, and respect in the community to edit personal statements made by another, particularly the GodKing. While I don't really mind people editing what I write, and it used to be ok to use the RoyalWe because of that, lately I feel that isn't quite the case, and that is likely because I am not listening very well to what people are saying to me. I could either spend the time to listen actively, or I can stop trying to represent TheCollective. Rather, I should DevolvePower. -- SunirShah

I believe we should all be GodKings because I really don't think one person can speak for the Community. RoyalWe should be all of us. TheCommunity? are a collectve voice, and when disagreement arises, we decide by consensus, not what the GodKing says to do. As displayed in the past, a hierarchy never works. Who can speak for many except those many?---JonasDaltonRand


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