Online Communities & Crowds
Comm Studies 378
Fall, 2014

Discussion questions #1: Cyberculture, Collective Action, and Architectures of Control

Due: October 5, 2014 (see details below)


Working together, each team should:


  1. Cyberculture as Collective Action: Evaluate the following statement: "Early online communities like The WELL grew in part because they provided a valuable collective goods for their members and other visitors to the site. The collective also grew and succeeded because the Internet and "Pico Span" (the software that ran the site) made it easier for the group to increase in size without a corresponding increase in communication or coordination costs." Drawing on the first two weeks' readings, explain your assessment of the statement.

  2. Improving Architectures of Control on the WELL The WELL experienced many problems due to the abusive behavior exhibited by users like Mandel. Create a concrete and detailed proposal that would help WELL managers avoid or mitigate such abuses. Be sure to explain whether and how your proposal calls for a change in the platform's code, a change in the community's norms, and/or some other "architecture(s) of control."

Evaluation criteria:

The teaching team will read all of the groups' submissions. We will evaluate them using the following criteria:

Please note that all discussion question writeups will be graded on a "check, check-plus, check-minus" scale. A check-plus reflects truly exceptional work along all three of the dimensions listed above. A check-minus reflects work that was completed, but was severely lacking in at least one area (and you should contact a member of the teaching team to make sure you understand where things went awry). A check falls somewhere in the middle. Incomplete or missing submissions will receive a no credit for the assignment.