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This page depicts and discussed a possible VisitorRole, one of the CommunityRoles that may be observed at some wikis, but that is not in formal use anywhere, as far as I know. To work this out and establish it - together with the GuestRole and the CommunityMember role - could be a cultural step forward towards more smoothly operating SoftSecurity online communities.

Of course, this is just an option for MeatBall and this is not meant to set a standard for other communities. I think that each online community should be autonomous to set its own rules and roles without external interferance (of "visitors and guest"). -- HelmutLeitner

For example the bitterness of rule discussions seems to come often from unclear roles, where "members" expect that "visitors" and "guests" respect the existing rules and become "members" themselves before they take part in decision processes. In this situation "members" are not really aware of the difference, are unable to communicate their expectations, which often leads to deep conflicts.

The VisitorRole

Someone starting to contribute to an online community on his own decision may be considered in the VisitorRole (if he is invited to take part, he might start in the GuestRole or even in the CommunityMember role, although the typical WikiPractices will still be performed).

A wiki visitor may write to the guest book and SandBox, and create a homepage and offer some personal information there, but the main event to look for is WelcomeNewcomer. This means that host or some seniors members will make a first formal contact, talk about possible common interests and in fact invite him to contribute or to feel at home. At this point the visitor becomes a guest and is expected to act according to the GuestRole.

CommunityExpectations towards the visitor:

In very rare circumstances (for example if the visitor breaks a taboo), a visitor will get a negative response and become a VisitorNotWelcome?. In this case the best he can do is to leave the community quietly, ask for the deletion of his homepage, either never to return or to make a second try after ForgiveAndForget.

What are the responsibilities and expectations of someone in the VisitorRole v. someone in the GuestRole? We expect both to behave nicely, to do lots of reading before doing any writing, to be OnTopic, and so on. Is the implication here that people in the VisitorRole aren't allowed to write anywhere but the guestbook and SandBox and their own HomePage, until they are officially welcomed (WelcomeNewcomer) and enter the GuestRole? That seems odd; I don't know of any Wiki that actually works that way. I'm constantly writing stuff on Wikis without WelcomeNewcomer having been conducted for me, and no one's complained. Maybe I'm just Special. *8) --DavidChess (feel free to remove this in expansion / refactoring, especially if its concerns are addressed in the new text)

David, I think you are right. The roles and rituals just develop. Many wikis are not aware of them and don't practise them. But you can observe them in many living wiki communities. For example, if you aren't welcomed, you will miss something and it is an indicator that something is wrong with the wiki community. I do not demand that this must be done in this or that way, but I think it would make sense to interpret behaviour and define the roles and their transitions more clearly. -- HelmutLeitner

Very good. I think what would be helpful for me, then, would be some writing down of the expectations / responsibilities / rights of people in the VisitorRole vs the GuestRole; I don't really understand the difference between them. Of course this may be because I jumped into these pages while you were still in the process of crafting them. *8) RecentChangesSniping? --DavidChess

I have no article ready in my mind, I just start thinking. For example, when there is no WelcomeNewcomer, there may still be a SilentWelcome, that gives you basically the same information and the same role change in a less efficient way. -- HelmutLeitner

VisitorRole expectations:

Hm, okay. I'd like to suggest that someone is in VisitorRole, not until they've been welcomed, or until they've posted a HomePage and heard no objections for two days, or anything mechanical like that, but rather until they've acquired enough (what?) clue to take a few competent steps toward participation; to be trusted to (for instance) create new pages and change existing content. So someone who's been lurking for long enough, or who has enough experience in other Wikis with similar ground rules, might not have to be in VisitorRole at all; might reasonably start (say) creating new pages and altering existing content and talking about rules right off. This is just a thought I have, and may be entirely wrong for MeatballWiki or even for lots of Wikis in general; my major feeling is that the difference between what you're calling VisitorRole and GuestRole (and perhaps even CommunityMember role or whatever comes next) isn't that some particular ceremony has occurred or that some amount of time has passed, but rather that the person has the skills and knowledge (however or wherever acquired) to competently act in the role.

One other simpler point (not that I haven't already talked too much): it would be good if you could clarify on these pages what aspects of the roles are specific to MeatballWiki, which you think are common to all Wikis, and which you think are common to all collaborative media (or whatever). Reduce confusion. --DavidChess (all of the above may be deleted at will)

This role is a projection, coming from observations of bahaviour, in search for the solution to some online community problems. One problem is that people think that if they have the technical ability to act in a wiki they have also the right to do so. A lot of conflicts come from this. If we invent a VisitorRole and make it part of our culture, then I think we will be able to cooperate more smoothly in online communities.

I can't go to your house, enter it because it's open or climb through an open window, I'm able to find your fridge and sit in your chair ... and just feel that I'm naturally in the GuestRole. I have to knock your door, make contact in the VisitorRole, wait for an invitation before I can feel at home. Such roles have been in use at all times and in all cultures. We don't have them here at MeatBall neither in a formal nor in a completely developed sense, but we can observe them, have the ability to craft them and to communicate them, if we agree that they make sense. Any wiki is free to define its own rules, formal or informal. -- HelmutLeitner

Good stuff! So this is, if I'm reading it right, a proposal to change the existing culture of MeatballWiki so that newcomers are asked (and expected) not to change existing content or create pages or join in rule discussions until they've gone through a certain process (WelcomeNewcomer or SilentWelcome), and not to start welcome or award rituals themselves or engage in decision processes until they've gone through a further process (whatever it takes to become a CommunityMember)? I have no particular opinion on whether such a change to the culture would be desirable (being in GuestRole myself!); I will say, though, that it would be an interesting challenge to make those aspects of the culture sufficiently obvious to newcomers that the expectations would be likely to be fulfilled. (And by "interesting challenge" here I don't mean to suggest "impossible"; I really do mean that it would be an interesting challenge). --DavidChess

This is the problem with this. You aren't a guest, but you feel like one. You have written more here in the last week than I have, including filling in a page or two that I intended to write myself just as I would have written them. It seems like PreemptiveModeration that isn't needed.

I don't disagree with Helmut that newcomers need to Wiki:LurkBeforeTheyLeap, and they don't, but I sense the problem is that now newcomers don't want to read the entire PageDatabase because it is too dense and big. A lot of the CommunityExpectations are CommunityLore. In the WikiLifeCycle, we are at the point where we have to write down our rules. Of course, since we are writing as LifeInText, our CommunityLore is written somewhere, so we just need better StartingPoints I think. People seem to back down to off-topicness given the MeatballMission, after all. -- SunirShah

(I think I am a guest, at least according to the current text, since I've been through WelcomeNewcomer as currently decribed. I will gladly volunteer myself as a case study for this visitor / guest / member idea, although I don't presume to claim that I'm representative of anything. *8) Is, or should there be, a CommunityExpectation that everyone read the entire PageDatabase before making significant changes / contributions? Another interesting question (and it goes along, I think, with my suggestion that changes in status have at least as much to do with acquired clue than with administered sacrement). --DavidChess)

I like that page very much. I feel like this visitor role exist in any community, whether online or offline. At least should exist, as politness and respect to the place and the people. But, what is rather encouraged by a wiki is to be bold. This said, I think this lack a paragraph, which would be about the "expectations" the visitor could have from a community itself. If it is written, perhaps is it more clear to anyone that the visitor has been received in a certain way himself. Such as being welcome, being given a certain number of links to start with.



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