Author Topic: What is Community?  (Read 19565 times)

Offline RE

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What is Community?
« on: April 20, 2014, 02:31:43 AM »
The recent collapse of the Diner Forum discussion has led me to wonder about Community in general.

Even though I disagreed with some of the Diners, I always held out the hope that differences could be resolved through discussion.  After all, everyone who was on the Diner had some realization that BAU could not continue onward, even Moriarty realized this, although his fracking solution was not real popular.

Free Speech didn't solve any problems on the Diner, and I wonder now if Free Speech is really possible within a community?  If/when some people start speaking out vociferously AGAINST the community, how long can the community permit Free Speech?  Eventually the cacophany becomes overwhelming, and whatever it was you were trying to work out gets lost in the acrimony.

So here I solicit a Question?  If you can't really have Free Speech, what sort of limitations do you make in order to allow questioning, but not allow cacophany to undermine the community as a whole?  Is there some Happy Medium that can be achieved here?

RE

Offline Surly1

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2014, 06:08:54 AM »
ANY community requires a system of governance and adjudication of disputes, IMO. In my mind this is basic and fundamental because disputes naturally arise. Not for nothing did Gen. Robert devise the Rules of Order, much used as a parliamentary authority for use by a deliberative assembly.

Based on the thinking of David Graeber and other big heads, the assemblies for Occupy used a facilitation model that followed an agenda, but the entire premise of Occupy was that it was leaderless. Which is in principle a wonderful thing, except that no one cancelled the tendencies of human behavior. Occupy also attracted a number of, shall we say, "marginal personalities," whose retailing of their respective personal ram as might have been difficult enough to manage, were it not for the infiltrators, the disinfo agents, and other harm-wishers who soon insinuated themselves into the inner workings of the group, whereupon nothing worked as it should, and people were set against one another . . . but you have heard all this before.

An intentional community will sidestep much of this drama, because of the nature of the choices made to enter. But human nature remains. In the same way corporations often have a "mission statement," I assume a Foxstead will have some statement of purpose and premises. That's a starting point. Then going forward, the group will need to makes decisions: who's responsible for what, what is held in common, how is the commons allocated, etc. etc.

Even the ancient Hebrews are said to have demanded a king. (And no, RE, you don't get to nominate yourself!) Failing kingship, some council/deliberative body is essential to decide and to adjudicate. Some of us are willing to subsume egos long enough to work for a common purpose. But at some point disagreements, even among friends, will arise. The best prepared community will anticipate that and plan accordingly.

My two cents, anyhow.

Offline Eddie

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2014, 10:49:01 AM »
I wonder now if Free Speech is really possible within a community?

The recent events have made me ponder the same question. The only answer I have is that with rights come responsibilities. To have an open forum, the participants have to make agreements, either explicit or tacit, that ensure that the discussion will conducted with some level of mutual respect.

A virtual community is particularly susceptible, imho, to attack by anyone whose main motive is to sow the seeds of discord. People can say things that they know full well would never be tolerated in the real world, and if they lack any kind of personal moral compass, they will say it. A person in the real world who would never dare to even open his/her mouth can spew all manner of vitriol online, knowing that no one can touch them.

When a forum is formed, as the diner was, with the intention of providing a place for "free speech", it might be expected that the limits of that concept would be tested. It's ironic to me that those who have the biggest complaints about censorship actually have very little to say in terms of real discussion, having latched on to the idea that someone is abusing their "rights", and then dedicating themselves to a kind of misguided quixotic battle against the "authorities".

It's a sad, pathetic misunderstanding of the concept of freedom of speech, and very much what I'd expect from people who have grown up repeating the ethos of the American Dream, without really understanding  it.

Offline Eddie

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2014, 12:00:38 PM »
The other thing is that internet forums attract pathological personality types. People who are totally powerless in the real world, but able to get a thrill from inciting others into fights in the virtual world. It wouldn't be a big deal if the other participants could recognize it and act accordingly, but unfortunately many people have "hot buttons" that the sick-o types quickly learn to push.

I don't know which is worse, the trolls who stir the shit, or those who allow themselves to "take sides" in an argument that has only been fomented for the entertainment of said trolls. It doesn't raise my opinion of the general public, this whole dynamic.

Offline H

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2014, 02:07:25 PM »
I'm unaware of any community that does not limit free speech in some manner, from no criticism of the central tenants of the community (blasphemy laws in religious societies) to structures that allow for recompense when the people go to far, libel laws for example.  Punishment for transgression vary from death, through exile or shunning, to even ritualistic scarring (labeling).

That cannot work when the reason a person is there to sow discord and cause problems - when you are dealing with trolls.  I'm often the first to give people a second and third chances, particularly when they have something useful to say but without limits on offensive behavior it will tear things apart.  Fighting fire with fire - or napalm with napalm, only works with constant vigilance.

Containment is sometimes an option - the diner is such a "Troll Containment Facility" (TCF) which works well, with some of the most pathological trolls in the doom-o-sphere safely contained where the ban hammer will not come down.  Places like silent country, Llamedos, The Tin Foil Palace and The Oil Age relatively troll-free.  The diner serves an important purpose for the doomer community.

Communities can either expel the undesirable, or the core of the community can walk away and leave them to it. I made the decision to walk as soon as I met the diners at the convocation;  it confirmed my assessment of the individuals who were willing to do more than complain and opened doors for those of us wanting to act to "save as many as we can".  The penny also seemed to drop that some do not want to find a path through the turmoil we expect ahead. We accepted some wanted hospice, like NBL folks, but accepting trying to drag others down as another's' choice was harder for some.
 
Pushing buttons is an art.  The problem with the trolls in the Diner is that they attended the Bobby Sands school of art and recreated the "dirty protest" in a virtual environment.  The "right stuff" video should be relabeled "Sanitation crew arrives at the TCF".

I was not completely surprised by the actions of the few, the issues were always just under the surface, kept in check by the heavy hand of counter-napalm.  When that was distracted by the real life convocation, those natural tenancies erupted.  Not having much tolerance for trolls, even when kept in check, is why our "tribe" keeps itself separate from the diner.  Some groups are great examples, others are horrible warnings.  The diner managed to be both and finally we're separating the wheat from the chaff with multiple forums.     

I may go and poke a few trolls in the Diner from time to time, just to keep them entertained and happy in their "containment facility" but I won't stick around to see the reaction. So long as they are not distracting from what we're doing, I don't really care how they cannibalize each other's egos.


Offline RE

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2014, 04:22:10 PM »
Well, actually I created a new "Troll Containment Facility" with the Anti-Diner.

After so much time spent developing the Diner, gaining readership and listenership etc, I couldn't simply abandon the Diner to the Trolls to wreak havoc with it endlessly.  The Diner has a wealth of information in the archives, which nobody will bother to access if they are constantly are bombarded by various forms of napalm.

The problem for me is to find the right balance, where you can allow folks with contrarian ideas to have their say, but not let pathological personalities take over the asylum, so to speak.  Problem there is what seems pathological to one person often seems reasonable to another one, particularly when the pathological personality flips back and forth from being "reasonable" and "informative" to being vitriolic and destructive.

Obviously, once you allow yourself to Delete or otherwise throw the bad apple out of the barrel, you can keep your discussions on track.  However, this is one of those "slippery slopes", and if you happen to be the one in the position of making the decision to pitch somebody off the island, you get second guessed by everyone on this.

An example here would be MKing, who numerous folks told me I should pitch out ages ago, but at the same time I heard from Harry he was a valuable source of industry information we should keep around.  Although I often saw signs in Uncle Bob of instability (the writing style for one), he also had worthwhile information to contribute during his more lucid moments.

The internet of course provides a lot of options, such as setting up a whole new forum to house the disgruntled, but that is a whole lot less possible in a Real Life Community, such as an Occupy Encampment or a Sunstead.  In those situations, if you have disgruntled people making noises all the time that prevent substantive conversation from taking place, what do you do about that without having an Authority Figure who says "Enough is Enough"?

Certainly, having everyone join up with a solid Mission Statement and agreeing to a set of Roberts Rules is a good idea, but what occurs down the line as the Children grow up?  Teenagers necessarily rebel against Authority, and how do you handle that?  A good spanking works OK at 5 years old, it generally is not so effective at 15.

Shunning and other social conventions have worked in the past, but at least in online communities it doesn't seem to work.  For one thing, the Readers find it quite difficult to ignore trash talk, and particularly if you perceive something as EVIL, you don't wanna let Satan win out here.  Evil reigns when Good Men stay silent and all of that.

Anyhow, I didn't answer any questions here, just added more to ponder on.  Difficult problem overall.

RE

Offline H

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2014, 06:30:14 PM »
Excellent questions that a lot of intentional communities have struggled with.  The more successful ones seem to let the kids go out and experience the world, and find that often they come back to home. 

I believe authority figures are unavoidable so the trick is getting a good one.  Part of that is making sure the "authority" is so limited that it does not serve as a lure for the sociopathic power seekers.  I think the dunbar number is a good metric there.

If you raised them well I think they will come home.  Thing is, it takes a village to raise them well.  Hence the need for intentional communities. It's an area the "free market" has failed us.




Offline Surly1

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2014, 07:17:11 PM »
Excellent questions that a lot of intentional communities have struggled with.  The more successful ones seem to let the kids go out and experience the world, and find that often they come back to home. 

I believe authority figures are unavoidable so the trick is getting a good one.  Part of that is making sure the "authority" is so limited that it does not serve as a lure for the sociopathic power seekers.  I think the dunbar number is a good metric there.

If you raised them well I think they will come home.  Thing is, it takes a village to raise them well.  Hence the need for intentional communities. It's an area the "free market" has failed us.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  -Proverbs 22:6.  Some wisdom is eternal.

Was not familiar with Dunbar number, but after looking it up, it makes sense.

Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2014, 11:16:35 PM »
I believe authority figures are unavoidable so the trick is getting a good one.  Part of that is making sure the "authority" is so limited that it does not serve as a lure for the sociopathic power seekers.
The other trick is to limit their tenure.  The founding fathers of these united States gave the job of governance so few privileges that most people could not afford to be career politicians, they needed to have other jobs.  Being a representative just was part of fulfilling one's civic duty.  For the most part, it actually worked for over a century before being a politician became lucrative enough to be a full-time career.

I think rotating leadership positions is important for smaller groups.  Not only does this help prevent accumulation of power which has the potential for leading to corruption, but also it helps prevent becoming overly reliant on one person.  Many intentional communities throughout the centuries have thrived until their founder died, then gradually died out.

Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2014, 11:38:03 PM »
Free Speech didn't solve any problems on the Diner, and I wonder now if Free Speech is really possible within a community?  If/when some people start speaking out vociferously AGAINST the community, how long can the community permit Free Speech?  Eventually the cacophany becomes overwhelming, and whatever it was you were trying to work out gets lost in the acrimony.

So here I solicit a Question?  If you can't really have Free Speech, what sort of limitations do you make in order to allow questioning, but not allow cacophany to undermine the community as a whole?  Is there some Happy Medium that can be achieved here?
Orrin said it best at the first Age of Limits conference about Four Quarters.  They had to learn to disagree yet stick together, and to do whatever was best for the community.  Free speech is possible in a community only when those principles are adhered to.  It's a delicate balance.  People absolutely need to be able to feel free to speak up when the think there is a problem that is not being addressed; on the other hand, once a problem has been addressed, there comes a point where you need to just go along, even if it's not the solution you would have preferred.

Offline RE

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2014, 02:34:38 AM »
The "Sticking Together" aspect is one that concerns me also.

As it appears now, shuffling the Trolls over to the Anti-Diner and Moderating their posting on the Diner itself seems to have brought the matter under control, far as they are concerned anyhow.

Not so sure about how this is playing out with everyone else's psychology though.  I perceive that many of you have "withdrawn" from the Diner.  Regardless of whether the Trolls are blabbering or not, in the aftermath it seems less effective/worthwhile to spend time posting up and trying to communicate this way.  If all you get out of it is a lot of acrimony, why bother eh?  If nobody responds to your On Topic threads, why bother posting up about your latest project?

Staying the course when you run into a shit storm is darn hard, and even more than that finding your way back after you have been blown off course is even harder.  For myself, I am committed, have been since my earliest days on Reverse Engineering.  When I first got Banned from Peak Oil, for a good 3 months or so I just wrote to nobody really.  A few posters from Peak Oil occassionally dropped in, but mostly I was just dropping thoughts onto a disk that nobody would ever read.  A cyber-diary it was in those days.

The evolution to the Diner led me to depend on people and believe in them as being as committed as I am, but that probably is not a valid belief.  I put my heart and soul into this project, and I don't let anything stop me or get me so down I will quit on it.  Lord only knows I have been tried along the way, but I can't quit anymore, no matter how stupid the shit gets across cyberspace.  I don't think anyone else is quite that invested in the project.

Anyhow, I hope those of you who have been part of this project will stay the course with me.  I certainly cannot start over here, and do the whole process over again of trolling websites to find people of like mind to make such a thing work.  If this fails, it's OVAH.  The Fat Lady Sings for the Diner.


RE

Offline Surly1

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2014, 04:55:35 AM »
Quote from: JD
They had to learn to disagree yet stick together, and to do whatever was best for the community.  Free speech is possible in a community only when those principles are adhered to.  It's a delicate balance.  People absolutely need to be able to feel free to speak up when the think there is a problem that is not being addressed; on the other hand, once a problem has been addressed, there comes a point where you need to just go along, even if it's not the solution you would have preferred.

Essential. Free speech is possible only where there is mutual respect and trust. When one faction determines it will use "any means necessary" in order to prevail, including intentional destruction of the community, that is a breach of trust and the community then has to respond. Or, in this case, its admin.

The "Sticking Together" aspect is one that concerns me also.

As it appears now, shuffling the Trolls over to the Anti-Diner and Moderating their posting on the Diner itself seems to have brought the matter under control, far as they are concerned anyhow.

Not so sure about how this is playing out with everyone else's psychology though.  I perceive that many of you have "withdrawn" from the Diner.  Regardless of whether the Trolls are blabbering or not, in the aftermath it seems less effective/worthwhile to spend time posting up and trying to communicate this way.  If all you get out of it is a lot of acrimony, why bother eh?  If nobody responds to your On Topic threads, why bother posting up about your latest project?
RE

Patience. Give it time. If we remain consistent to what we've been doing, I suspect it will revert to a pre-convocation equilibrium.

Offline monsta666

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2014, 06:05:05 AM »
The way I see it free speech is like any rights; they should come with certain responsibilities and qualifiers. The big qualifier is free speech should be allowed unless the speech infringes on another person's welling being and is sufficient that this speech will have a negative impact on their quality of life. This prevents people using free speech as a vehicle to deliver hate speech or otherwise undermine the group. Now criticism of other people should be permissible but the emphasis must be that the person making the claim must offer proof or valid examples of why this person/group committed an offence. Failure to do so will be considered an attempt to slander or otherwise put the group into disrepute.

Now how rigorously you follow the rules will be subject to debate and the concern maybe that you walk a slippery slope but the important thing to bear in mind is if these matters are not resolved in some decisive manner then they are likely to fester and have an insidious effect on the overall group making people less cohesive. You need to have some mechanism that guards against this and total free speech is not going to stop this. Perhaps you can find a work around this problem but this effect of stirring up conflict and casting seeds of doubt is something you need to be mindful of. People can do this to further their own ends against the interests of the group.

In any case by using the qualifier you emphasise that when people do practice free speech they have the responsibility of needing to treat their fellow peers with respect and if some criticism must be given then it is done with tact and more important evidence to substantiate their claims. I think this is key and allows people to engage in an honest manner but prevent the situation we had on the Diner whereby people were making claims that had no semblance of truth.

For more complex debates about how the group should generally move forward I am in agreement with the other suggestions namely having some sort of mission statement that people can fall back on in times of uncertainty. It is also good to have the leadership change every now and then to prevent power accumulation and for the group to become too dependent on any one person. You need to build resilience and it is important this community can withstand external and internal pressures without falling apart. Speaking of internal cohesion it would also be prudent to devise some means of gauging a person's personality. You want people to have a similar outlook on the most basic ethos of the community but you also need them to be strong mentally and call out bad behaviour.

Offline H

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2014, 10:09:28 AM »
The diner forum meets the needs of those there, that's obvious, or there would be no one visiting the forums these days.  However, it does not meet my needs, I now have the SUN forum for that. 

I'm assuming that those who find the diner and have the ability to maintain polite discourse will migrate here, allowing the trolls to entertain themselves as they see fit.   

Eventually, I hope it is the S4L site people find first, then if they show they are incapable of being civilized, they get thrown into the pit.  :)   Refine them like silver and test them like gold.




Offline monsta666

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Re: What is Community?
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2014, 11:15:17 AM »
The diner forum meets the needs of those there, that's obvious, or there would be no one visiting the forums these days.  However, it does not meet my needs, I now have the SUN forum for that. 

I'm assuming that those who find the diner and have the ability to maintain polite discourse will migrate here, allowing the trolls to entertain themselves as they see fit.   

Eventually, I hope it is the S4L site people find first, then if they show they are incapable of being civilized, they get thrown into the pit.  :)   Refine them like silver and test them like gold.

It is unlikely the atmosphere you currently see on the Diner will last for a long length of time. In fact it is most unusual that events persisted as long as it did because quite often such incidents have a way of blowing over after a few days. You got to remember it takes energy to remain angry and most people loss steam after a short period of time because they lack the energy to do so. In time it is my feeling that things will return to normal and it will be possible to engage in a civilised conversation without any ad-hominem. Saying that if things do repeat themselves once again you always have this board as a safe haven.