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Often contributors invest a lot of time and effort into OnlineCommunities
. As a result, often contributors want to ensure that their community, and the content produced by that community, continues to exist. This need is in part a sign that real value has been produced. It also echoes a spoof "law" - don't put data into a format if you can't get it out again.
A safety-net means that a OnlineCommunity is made less dependent on TheIndividual, and protected from accidents. So good answers to the following questions should be available:
- What happens if the server breaks down?
- What happens if the server is shut down, because it isn't paid anymore?
- What happens if the proprietor or a key community member dies?
- What happens if the proprietor sells out to a hostile company?
- What happens if the subject is no longer interesting, or is obsoleted by events?
- What happens if another group swallows us up?
- What happens if the community dies?
Elements of the safety-net depend somewhat on whether we value ContentOverCommunity, or CommunityOverContent.
Safeguards for the community basically means ensuring that everyone can stay in touch, independantly of the webvsite that originally brought them together - so people know each other's email addresses, telephone numbers, personal websites, blogs, etc, etc. With this backup, contributors can stay in touch, and if necessary StartAgain on a "refugee" website.
Possible safeguards for the community:
Possible safeguards for the content are more technical in nature:
The CommunityLifeCycle teaches us that death and rebirth of communities is inevitable over the LongNow. Any SafetyNet thus has two purposes: to postpone death, and to foster rebirth. These two aims are sometimes in tension - if rebirth is less painful, then this could hasten an inevitable demise.
What about the MeatballSafetyNet?