Building Community, Article 2

This series of articles is about how to create a virtual community using the principles of “Natural Ethics” as outlined in article one. This new kind of community benefits all members, according to the individual’s creativity and effort. The infrastructure for a synergistic community such as this can be created by a commercial entity. The entity can benefit from the size and cohesiveness of the community once it grows.

This concept is already proven in each of its parts in several existent communities today. I am taking as model the following websites/communites: Wikipedia, Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, UTube. Wikipedia for the involvement of dedicated volunteers: writers and editors. Ebay for the rating system of the sellers and the successful business model. Amazon for the book reviews/book lists from readers. Craigslist for the self-policing of its members. UTube for the democratization of input from users.

The one thing that is missing from all these sites, is a reward system for members of the site for creative input/work. So I am proposing a system called “tithing.” Wikipedia defines tithing thus:

“A tithe (from Old English teogoþa “tenth”) is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a (usually) voluntary contribution or as a tax or levy, usually to support a Jewish or Christian religious organization. Today, tithes (or tithing) are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products. Several European countries operate a formal process linked to the tax system allowing some churches to assess tithes.”

So a tithe is a voluntary contribution to support an organization. The difference in what I propose is a system where members tithe or reward other members for their work or creativity. The system will be policed and run by the community itself, in the manner described above. If someone does not adhere to the rules set by the community: i.e. steals intellectual property, does not tithe the creator for a service or product, then the community can “throw out” that member. I would imagine that the blogging part of the community would form a kind of reporting system to keep members in line, kind of like a neighborhood community “watch” system. Simply not allowing perpetrators to get away unseen is a great deterrent; the in-house media system made up of individual bloggers acts like a natural system of checks and balances.

Below is my outline for such a community:

General Principles
– benefits for members come from the Community itself, not from company
– “Tithing” is defined here as a way of giving back to the originator of a concept/design
– Tithing can be done:
– between members, the buyer and the seller
– between communities
– the funds from Tithing can be given to:
– a member
– a Community employee (defacto member, expected to participate and benefit)
– a SIG Community inside the Community
– a charity inside or outside the Community
– Company builds infrastructure for Community
– Community manages itself (see below)
– ethics are resolved within the Community thus:
– respect for intellectual / artistic property
– win / win — everyone benefits, no one is exploited for their creativity
– input from everyone is encouraged (people see that their contributions are valued)
– lateral structure / non-hierarchical
– democratic — everyone is heard equally
– credit given for input by members (also financial / or goodie renumeration where appropriate)
– content and structure is related to Community platform, but not exclusive to the platform
– Community is self-managed/self-policed

What encourages people to use/belong to a Community? The right blend of uniqueness and alikeness.
– uniqueness — what is the benefit to the individual
– information they can use for work or life
– positive ethics within Community
– members may gain a benefit in world outside Community — renown, job, mate, etc.
– members may work towards “star” status within one or more communities
– cult / elite “insider” status
– coolness factor
– people want to be given credit (paid in accolades or money) for their input
– people want to be heard; complaints addressed, software problems addressed
– people want to express themselves
– people feel valued, smart, and important
– users have to see individual benefits to themselves
– alikeness — what is the benefit to the Community
– positive ethics within Community
– grassroots appeal
– usability
– people want to help others (most want to be known for it)
– people like to feel part of a team
– sense of communality
– trust and respect within the Community

Member Benefits
– “Tithing” — financial benefit — others buy the use of your interface / content
– members / creators
– Community builders
– Community may “buy” a member’s content / interface design
– Community may “buy” a member’s design to be one of the cool handouts
– use of Community platform
– members can market to others — if you build it they will come (use and buy)
– user generates unique content / interfaces
– other members pay originators to use interfaces / content
– can build their own Community
– can participate in another Community
– networking
– insider knowledge — blogging / magazines
– members who bring in other members get cool stuff to keep and to give the new members

Community builders
– Community initiators may receive tithing for their work
– anyone can build a Community and receive Tithing
– Community builders with larger member-base get “fringe benefits” — cool logoware, etc

Examples of kinds of SIG communities
– businesses
– charities
– organizations
– school children
– home schooling
– universities
– religious
– dating service
– artists
– designers
– animators
– musicians
– online magazines

Management techniques
– Peer Production — Amazon model
– Peer Management — Wikipedia model

–> more to come

Copyright 2007 Aliyah Marr

** any parties interested in hiring me to form this online community, please email me at: myfullname [at] gmail.com

Other articles on Building Virtual Communities:

<– Article 1 :::: Article 2 :::: Article 3 –>

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