Monday, April 11, 2011

Session 7--Management and conflict

Throughout the course we've looked at online communities as systems with affordances and constraints, and as arenas in which people interact. Use scenarios can be understood as scripts that site builders imagine people's interaction with system will follow; in our final session we'll look at the people responsible for managing and maintaining online communities once they're live--whether they're the designers, moderators/admins or users--and what happens when things go wrong.

The readings for this session present a number of perspectives about the ways online communities define, support and perpetuate themselves, from law (Madison) to HCI (Cosley et al.) to sociology (Kollock and Smith). Grimes et al. focus on the documents that govern online communities, and this Gazan fellow has a few observations about conflict in social Q&A sites. And I know it's late in the semester, but by all means, don't miss the Dibbell article.

By Sunday, April 17, 11:59pm
  1. After completing the readings, find the official rules governing the site you're studying for your final project, or another site if you prefer. Keep in mind that there may be more than one official document. Post a link (or links) with some brief explanatory text.
  2. Find three examples on the site where one or more rules have been broken, specifically in the form of interpersonal conflict (i.e. not just spam posts). Give a brief synopsis of each situation, along with any admin or user reactions if available, and provide a screenshot.
  3. For each of the three situations you describe, put yourself in the position of the administrator of the community, with the ability to take any action or set any policy on the site that you think best, and discuss your response to, and rationale for, each situation. Take time to consider the consequences of your prescriptions: for example, allowing users to remove inappropriate content instead of waiting for admin review risks coordinated suppression of content by motivated users or bots. Relate your examples and discussion substantively to at least four of the Session 7 readings.
  4. Conclude with a list of five "unwritten rules" for your site, things that are not directly addressed by current policy, and would (recalling session 6) help users get what they came to the site to receive, and reflect the lessons of the readings you cited.

By Friday, April 22, 11:59pm

As you have done so well throughout the course, comment on at least five other students' posts.

By Sunday, April 24, 11:59pm

Conclude your conversations.

Though we'll be emailing individually as you complete your final projects (due May 1), since this is my last post I'd like to thank you for taking this course. It's been your interest, interactions and enthusiasm that have made this course work so well, and you guys have inspired me to try to get this course listed as a permanent offering next year, so it can be taught more regularly. I welcome any suggestions you have, either in the course evaluation or via email, that will help make this an even better course for the next group of students.

Thanks and aloha,