Crowd Wise 3b: Rules, Rules, Rules (Group Identity)

The golden rule is that there are no golden rules
George Bernard Shaw

Some groups have protocols set in place for when one of their members turns into a troll, becomes overly aggressive, spams or generally threatens the community's ecology. 

Yet most of the time the idea of setting and following lots of rules makes us shiver and think of... school or worse:

Many think rules spoil fun.

Others are threatened by chaos - anyone doing whatever it is they'd like to on their site.

In your experience, do you think community members can create and define rules themselves, organically, or should the community leader(s) state these right from the offset/after a specific conflict occurs?  How rigid do these need to be?   What do you do when a rule is broken?   Do you step in each time?  Does there need to be a person with this specific responsibility?  

If you run a site which has avoided setting rules, did you discover unspoken norms somehow setting in over time?   Are your newcomers expected to develop their own sense of how things are done 'round here?

And, 'fess up, have you ever broken a rule or a norm yourself?
What were the consequences?



This posting is part of the Crowd Wise series and is in part my preparation for the swap-shop I will be hosting on web-based communities at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, April 8th 2010.  Your answers, as brief or as in-depth as you'd like to be, is very much appreciated!

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Note: if you would like to participate in this conversation anonymously, please do feel free to do so.  Alternatively, if you would like to specifically mention an online educational community when making reference to your experiences, adding your group's name and/or its URL, you are most welcome to!

4 Responses to “Crowd Wise 3b: Rules, Rules, Rules (Group Identity)”

  • monika hardy says:
    February 13, 2010

    This has been our only real statement on rules:

    we love this site...please help us keep it beautiful (*appropriate)...grazie.
    *google never forgets [ ]

    I am digitally distinct! Visit

  • monika hardy says:
    February 13, 2010

    I guess these are our ground rules as well - posted on top of our ning..

    I like that at Triiibes solicitation is monitored.

    February 13, 2010

    That's a brilliant blog post. Ouch.

    And I love your statement at the top: we love this site, keep it beautiful.

    That's a very nice touch.

    At the moment, within my student community, we've had no 'situations' to deal with - we're so small, around 30, but knowing humans, I wouldn't be surprised if something came to play, someday.

    One thing some of them did by themselves, though, is set their blog posts to be read only by their fellow "class"mates - that was really quite interesting as I didn't tell them they could. But one clicked on the button that said "viewable/commentable by friends only" and then bit by bit, more and more of them did.


  • Tara Benwell says:
    February 18, 2010

    Sorry I missed all of this great stuff Karenne! I was in Vancouver for the first few days of the Olympics. In terms of ground rules on MyEC we have changed our minds a few times over the past year. We have some of the main rules stated right on the site, including notes on why members are banned. Rules about who gets in are not public as we don't want spammers to know what we're looking for. The biggest problem we have is plagiarism. Students post content (especially photos) that they are not allowed to use. Most do not realize that this is wrong despite our best efforts to share rules on plagiarism. The Ning allows members to report any issues (such as trouble in the chat room) and we encourage our members to do this. It really helps.


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