Sociability: Purpose, People and Policies

Short summary, chapter 3 “Sociability: Purpose, People and Policies”.
Book: Preece, Jenny (2000). “Online communities: designing usability, supporting sociability” Chichester: Wiley, cop.

Purpose
If a community has clear stated goals it attracts people that have similar goals and this creates a stable community. Interesting is that off-topic ideas from outside the community can have positive impact on discussion. The purpose is one of several factors that influence people’s interactions as well as the character of a community. For new visitors, knowing the purpose and stating it clearly also help to prevent casual visitors who lack commitment. People with similar attitudes and ideas are attracted to each other. One advantage that web communities have is the disappearing prejudging based on someone’s looks.

People
They are the pulse of a community. Without them there is none. Alive discussion, new ideas, and changing content tell apart communities from basic web-pages. Communities with a wide purpose attract a wider range of people, and create a bigger challenge for the developers. Knowledge of cognitive and social psychology is a resource for understanding people’s online behaviour. Moderators and mediators can help to control communities. People can be unusually open, honest and sometimes intimate inside online communities. But people can also be aggressive and unpleasant. Knowing that you may never counter them face to face or online again can encourage venting negative feelings. The moderator’s role can be facilitating, managing the content, expert, editor, discussion generator, and helping the user with general needs.
There are those that believe that the internet should be a place for free speech, regardless of the community’s purpose. Communities that tried this approach have in many cases  started using moderators
after some time. False information and facts posted by its users destroy the community’s credibility.

Policies
“Communities need policies to direct online behaviour” (Preece, 2000). How policies are presented can strongly influence who joins the community and its character. Many online communities clearly stat that antisocial behaviour involving obscene language, aggression, unlawful act and racism will no be tolerated. Carefully developed minimalist social policies can encourage the evaluation of good sociability.

“Developers have much less control over social interaction than over usability, but planning good sociability support for the early lift of an online community can have a strong, positive impact on how it develops” (Preece, 2000)

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1 Response to “Sociability: Purpose, People and Policies”


  1. 1 sara stiber February 9, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    So what are we gonna do about moderators then?


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