If we can be friends in the process, that’s great, but it’s a subsidiary goal, at most.

Some OnlineCommunities are CommunityOverContent. That is: the primary purpose of the community is orientated around members of the community, and the various artefacts produced by the community are regarded as side effects – potentially useful, but of no great value.

However, for some communities, the content produced is not a mere side-effect, but is the CommonCause: the thing that brings the community together in the first place. Here, the community is merely a means to the end of some valuable finished product, rather than an end in itself.

Wikis can be used in both forms, but have a number of advantages for ContentOverCommunity sites. The lack of technical editing restrictions detaches content from its original author(s), which helps reinforce the primacy of the content over those who merely create the content. Further, wikis can avoid hard distinctions between the content, and discussion about the content.

ContentOverCommunity sites tend to use some form of OpenContent license to grant the RightToFork - the negative consequences of forking on communities (cf ForkingOfOnlineCommunities) are less important than the benefits to the content. Other consequences of the low value placed on community are:

Examples: WikiPedia, [[Linux?]], WorkplaceCommunity?, ….

See also: CommunityOverContent, ContentAndCommunity.

Discussion 2004


I don’t really believe that there’s any good way to measure whether “most” communities are ContentOverCommunity or CommunityOverContent or whatever. So, I changed this to “some”.

BenHyde: Very interesting node. There is something important here, but exactly what is hard for me to get a handle on. Highly focused communities, particularly the transient ones that come together for a short term purpose, tend to have a clear CommonCause. Communities that endure and grow tend to accumulate a pot of diverse complementary goals. But that’s hardly the same as what this is trying to get at. This is kind of suggesting that there are some things generated by the community (social goods possibly) that are sufficently distinctive from the other kinds of goals that the group might be creating and maintianing to be called out as different. Hm.

AlexSchroeder: Well, as you spend time together for your common cause, you make friends, and friends have entertainment value in themselves – so we might try to call this elusive quality SocialCapital, perhaps. But then again, perhaps this is the “quality that has no name”. 😉


Define external redirect: WorkplaceCommunity Linux

EditNearLinks: RightToVanish FairProcess OnlineCommunities CommunitySolution TheAudience ForkingOfOnlineCommunities CommunityExile


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