The common cause of a community is its point, a purpose, its raison d'être.

Every other goal in the community is secondary to the common cause. If there’s a conflict, the common cause will probably win out.

Some common causes are:

The above causes come from internal motivations. “This is my cause.”

But the “cause” can also come from outside! What causes us to meet is...


People debate about whether:

It’s possible that a communities common cause is unconscious. People don’t know why they are meeting, beyond that it feels right, for whatever purpose they are unconsciously persuing.

Some times, a group has an explicit goal, but it’s out of sync with the CommonCause. If there’s a conflict between the two, the common cause wins out.

The character and CommonCause of a group can change. The founder of a group may defend a group’s goals from challenge. Later members may succesfully advocate new goals. If members were attracted to a previous cause, they fall away. Those attracted to the new cause come.

People in a community are in a continuous, but frequently unconscious, conversation about what the goals are and how they contribute to the common cause. This is particularly true in communities where the Common Cause is intensionally kept implicit or flexible.

Common Cause and the Boundary of a Community

There are two ways of looking at a community. You could say that there’s a boundary around the community: a person is either in the community, or out. Or you could say that there’s a common cause, that attracts people there. Sort of like gravity.

See also: PointsOfUnity.

The "Object" of a Social Network

Academics have talked about CommonCause. They call it Object.

Where we would say, “What is the CommonCause of this community?”, they would say, “What is the object of this community?” Or perhaps, “What is the object of this SocialNetwork?”

Object = CommonCause.

We’re used to thinking of the CommonCause (or “object”) in terms of attraction (dating, marriage,) interests (anime or game groups, interest in community, Free Software,) values (democracy,) beliefs, efforts (writing software,) etc.,. When we think of: “Why do I meet with these people,” these are things we frequently list.

But the “object” could also just be a place. “We are the people who ride the 511 into Seattle from Lynnwood every morning.” Or “We buy our groceries at the Pike Place Market,” or “We are Seattlites,” or whatever. Most people don’t get all worked up about meeting people who happen to live at a place, but it can easily become the CommonCause for meeting.

“Why are we meeting like this? Oh, it’s because when I step out my door, and see you.”


See also: MeatBall:SuperordinateGoal

Discussion 2005

new: 2005-05-30 09:29 UTCLionKimbro:

I’m editing this a bit; I’ve been reading about “object-centered” groups, and, like my daughter, recognized that “there’s a match!”

It’s not a perfect match, since an “Object” in a SocialNetwork is more abstract than a CommonCause in a Community.

new: 2005-05-30 09:29 UTCLionKimbro:

I noticed the following listed as a CommonCause:

  • Self-aggrandizement. A GodKing creates a technology space for a community, but uses it for personal gratification. Often a hidden, implicit goal cloaked by some explicit goal; when the two conflict, self-aggrandizement will win out.

Somehow, this doesn’t seem very much like a CommonCause to me.

I can’t imagine that there can be such a thing as a common cause that is hidden. Maybe there is a clan of ninja training in a Shinto shrine that have a hidden CommonCause. But other than that, …

I can imagine a unconscious CommonCause, but not one that is somehow concealed. That is, it can't be common if it’s just for one person.

If self-aggrandizement were a goal, it would be a personal cause.

There would have to be some other CommonCause that attracted other people to come.

I do not believe that self-aggrandizement can win out over the CommonCause. If self-aggrandizement conflicts with the CommonCause, then either the CommonCause will win, and the person have to take a back seat, or self-aggrandizement will win, and the rest of the SocialNetwork will just fade away.

The theory is that they are there for something. If they cannot find that something there, then they are gone.

It may be possible that the CommonCause is compatible with an individual’s self-aggrandizement. Consider a political race, for example.

But if there comes to be a major conflict, it falls apart. Or there is a faction that is loyalist to the ego. The original CommonCause departs, the community is broken, a new community is formed based on a new CommonCause.

(So, I have removed this element from the list.)

new: 2005-05-30 09:29 UTCLionKimbro:

I provisionally take out the section that says that a group can have an explicit goal that is different than the CommonCause.

I question this, and feel we need an example. Can someone give me a good example of this? Keep in mind that it must contradict a common cause. It is not enough (I feel) to say: “A company says it’s trying to save the world, but really, it’s just out to make a buck.” I do not believe that this is an example of a common cause, because the people in the company likely do not form a community. They are not a community, and they do not have a common cause. Rather, the object between them is the agreement to take part in a system that will help them meet their particular (and individual) goals.

Or am I wrong? Is this a CommonCause?

If so, we should list it as one of the examples, because it’s something that we all have experience with, and have an easy time understanding. It would mean that we’d have to go more away from “community” and towards the more abstract “SocialNetwork,” I think.

Another example: We called CommonCause the “gravity” of a community. But I believe that changes if CommonCause becomes an object in a SocialNetwork.

new: 2005-05-30 09:29 UTCLionKimbro:

The page is a little schizophrenic about “goals” vs. “CommonCause” I think. I wish the meanings of the words were clear. If I understand right, “CommonCause” is something that cannot be violated. That’s the reason for the word: To say that there is something in common, and it cannot be violated. Should a goal mismatch the common cause, the goal falls. Should the common cause be violated, the community is basically no more.

new: 2005-05-30 09:29 UTCLionKimbro:

Should we even include this?

“## Is Virtual Community Real?”

There used to be an argument about whether “VirtualCommunity” (OnlineCommunity) is “real” or not. The assumption was that a community requires a physical place (MeatSpace, the BigBlueRoom) for gathering. The creation and maintenance of the physical place was the common cause for those communities.

Modern communities gather around all sorts of causes. Perhaps people just meet to talk about a topic. Or perhaps they want to seriusly work together to write open source code.

I’m not sure it’s really necessary; It seemed sort of out of place to me.

Maybe we should just abbreviate it, or work in a link to VirtualCommunity?

🍄2021: SummaryWanted


Define external redirect: CorpusOfWork

EditNearLinks: FreeBSD VirtualCommunity GodKing MeatSpace BigBlueRoom CategoryCommunity BehavioralNorm OnlineCommunity