The principal of microcontribution: people should be able to make a small contribution to discussion or decision-making on an issue (rather than being forced to either contribute nothing or to pledge tons of time to it).

In decision-making, this allows a broader spectrum of people to be represented in the decision.

The extent to which MicroContribution is possible is limited by the structure of the medium. For example, the internet allows the ideal of MicroContribution to be better achieved because one can write as little as a sentence in a single post. Prior to the internet, the shortest written form of communication was something like a letter, or a pamphlet.

How to permit microcontribution


See Also


Sam: Our thoughts seem to be “resonating”.

I noticed your edits, so …

I’ve been quite focused on MicroContent for some time, largely as a result of preparing and delivering a keynote speech that I felt did not do justice to the Topic because of the Audience’s time limitations. I must have condensed, distilled and summarized the Content down to at least 1/100th of what I felt this group (which I know really well) needed. And it was still too long!

One result is that I’ve been playing around a bit more with TransClusion and RssFeed? technologies in the hopes of automatically incorporating material into a Context Collection (which I am beginning to appreciate is quite different than the Oddmuse Collection function that I also use extensively to Summarize material.

HansWobbe (recently updated so the onMouseOver timestamp is out of sequence)

I am indeed interested in them. There is an untapped WikiPattern in MicroContent. I started noticing in different WikiEngines, like DokuWiki and MoinMoin, the concept of “templates”, which are meant to be little timesaving TransClusion pieces for creating pages, maybe with an index, or other content. Then, I revisited your idea of MicroContent and MicroBlock and realized that these are extensions of the “template” idea. I realized that if you figured out a way to create very useful MicroBlock pages, you could use them as meaningful building blocks for ArgumentPyramid type pages, and TheoryBuilding.

You could also actually create a meaningful “template” to be filled in for the creation of MicroBlock pages themself. So, there could be a “who?, what?, when?, where?, why?, how?” transclusion tempalte into pages, that helps show people how to write a good basic MicroBlock page, for instance. this could be useful for teaching people how to make valuable contribtions to wiki in an easy way. Could even help veteran wiki writers?

Beyond that, just thinking about how to achieve the goal of useful conversation and valuable DocumentMode pages with MicroBlock content really gets me thinking.


The original context for this principal in the deliberation seminar was a concern that some people’s voices aren’t heard in the political process because they don’t have hours a week to devote to their cause. One of the goals of decision making by a community is often for the decision to adequately take account of everyone’s input; MicroContribution is a solution to an obstacle that can make that goal difficult to acheive. – BayleShanks


In the Chavez coop (Santa Cruz, CA,) and the Emma Goldman center (Seattle, WA,) they have hand signs they use for MicroContribution. If you hold your hands out and shake your fingers, it’s called “feelies,” as in “I feel you,” and it means, “I feel agreement with what you are saying.” The more you shake your fingers, the stronger you express your sense of agreement.

That way, they don’t have to suffer interruptions just because someone wants it to be known that more than one person agrees with what is being said.

I suppose you could implement something similar online, by (I don’t know) making it so people could just attach their names to other people’s comments, in a way that is recognized as endorsement or shared concern.

I don’t know that we really need a new tech to do this, though a special icon might be nice.

We could say something like: If you feel agreement with something someone says, and you want to express it, but you don’t want to clutter things up with a full-on post, just: Put your name next to theirs. I put “FooBar” up above, indicating that “FooBar” is expressing support for this post. (Whoah! I’m feeling priviledged!)

I dunno. It could well be visually confusing, too, though. Maybe a little icon? A thumbs up icon? Dunno. A level hand?

If I recall right, (from talking with Phil,) people also did thumbs up, thumbs down. Thumbs up is more “let’s do it,” or “okay.” Feelies is for “I feel it,” and is more in the heart. Thumbs down is: “No, I disagree,” or, “No, let’s not do it.” (I’ll have to get Phil to tell me about it again.)

How about: Alex :) Lion :( Christophe <3 etc? Smilies are used to indicate mood extensively online. Why not use them? To indicate agreement all you need is to say who you are (name) and how you feel about it (friendly? :) enthusiastic? 8D love it? <3 sceptical? :/ I don’t think so. :( Death! Kill! >{)

I like!

I just didn’t know the smiley codes.

Where’s the convenient smilies table?

Do we need to make out? SmiliesTable??













This is a polling system and it’s good that it is one. Smilies are part of everydays online communication :) We therefore need to differnciate our polling application of them from the normal use of smilies :) ;). A combination of a sign rarely combined with a smily indicates that this is to be understood as a vote (forgive me the word, yes, it’s evil, I know ;)) and not as a regular smily. For example _:), §:) or ~:).

:) btw

Above there are 6 different grades for commenting. To be able to state a neutral attitude we should have either 5 or 7. In normal application a smily indicates a difference to a neutral reaction. Putting no smily is similar to neutral reaction, no sign is in use for emotional neutrality. When voting on something we absolutely need that neutrality can be stated. I propose:


 ~<3 - I love it!


 ~8D - I'm enthusiastic about it.


 ~:) - I'm friendly about it.


 ~:-| - I'm neutral about it.


 ~:/ - I'm sceptical about it.


 ~:( - I dont't think so.


 ~>{ - It's bullshit!

Maybe instead of ~ or _ or § rightaway use something the software can understand it’s a tag for a vote. <vote> </vote>? dunno.

Let’s test it:

what do you think about a five or seven degree polling scale including a sign for neutrality? … </poll>

Alex :/ Emile ~:) Christophe ~:/

Basically – for the technically minded – the current setup is a mapping of regular expressions to images.

    :-D :D :-) :) :-}= :}= ;-) ;) :-] :] =-) =) 8-) 8-D 8D :-| :-/ :-\ :/
    :\ :-( :( :-{ :{ X-( X-| X( X| >-{ >{ :-P :-p :-b (: (-: <3


:-D :D :-) :) :-}= :}= ;-) ;) :-] :] =-) =) 8-) 8-D 8D :-| :-/ :-\ :/ :\ :-( :( :-{ :{ X-( X-| X( X| >-{ >{ :-P :-p :-b (: (-: <3

I don’t think we need extra info to distinguish ordinary emotional content from an emotional vote since the external form is enough: A name, a smiley – if that’s all there is, it clearly is the response to a question further up.

Maybe Bayle could extend his pölling feature from yes and no to 3 grades of negative + neutral + three grades of positive? It’s on pica-wiki: sandbox. It’s surely not to drown community-wiki in stupid voting. But I’d like so much to experiment with it. Yes, agree, I can also do that with the smilie-system. It’s just that it would look less cryptic to newcomers. ;)

Where is Bayle’s voting feature btw? It was mentioned here but I do not find it.

I had mentioned it on the page WikiVoting. But I guess it should be mentioned in the context of this discussion also, so I moved it to its own page: AgreeDisagreeModule.

I’d be happy to implement your suggestion but I don’t have time today. I’ll do it after WikiSym, if not before. Btw there’s also some formatting issues in terms of making the thing look pretty.

I agree that using the smilie system might be cryptic. For me, when I see a smile, the meaning is a little different from “that person agrees with the post”. There’s also, well, a smile. It can indicate many things, such as lightheartedness, happiness at the situation, or laughing at a (possibly inside) joke. For instance if Dick Cheney posted “I think torture is justified to get intelligence that might prevent mass murder” and then George Bush posted just “:)”, I would be pretty confused about what the second poster meant. I doubt I would assume it meant “I agree with that statement.”.

I somehow doubt that you will find a system that is easy to take in at a glance and easy to use and fun to use, and handles sarcasm, innuendo, irony, hyperbole, etc. If you want that, we should go back to text. Say:

  • Yes – Alex
  • Bullshit – Berta
  • Can we use torture for fun, too? – Christian


Ok, wiki. Let’s pretend to be dependent on each other. Let’s pretend to do ‘one thing’. Let’s pretend to collaborte, let’s pretend to be a band.
It’s about who is community-wiki at the moment, kinda: I’d say

  • bayle 50%
  • lion 65%
  • alex 47%
  • helmut 37%
  • brandon 2%
  • christoph 36%
  • emile 29%
    Just an example, dont’t be insulted by my spontaneous temporary personal and incomplete slider settings please, it’s not right. Now imagine you’d do such a one as well and you’d do it without any stress that it should be right, as that ain’t possible anyhow and it’s anyhow just para-language. We’ll go on talking as we did before, sure. And imagine we’d compute the results and make a nice average of it and base all futher voting on our wiki on it. We are free to play and experiment here, it has to do with mathmatics, with an algorithm I fear.

I’m listening to Ward talk about developing test cases at the Eclipse Foundation at WikiSym 2007, and it made me think a lot. Developing test cases for software is really boring and really hard – in other words, not fun. But developing one or two test cases can be really fun (at least for programmity people).

And meditating on this point gave me an AhaMoment about the nature of microcontributions. And that is that Doing really big tasks is usually really hard and daunting. But if you can divide the job up into lots of teeny-tiny parts, each of those parts can be easy and even fun. As a lemma: And you have a lot more chance of getting people to do something easy and small for free than getting them to do something big and hard.

It made me think about a lot of jobs that I like: shucking corn, shoveling snow. I like shucking a few ears of corn, but I’d be pretty bummed to have to shuck a thousand ears a day. And I like shoveling my (teensy) front and backyard, but I couldn’t shovel the entire block.

Part of what makes it fun might be that the end is easily in sight at all times. I can quit real soon, so I don’t feel compelled or trapped or overwhelmed.

Evan, I totally see what you mean. I used to work as an engine mechanic on large Diesel engines in tractor/trailer trucks, and I used to really not look forward to some of the larger tuck engine overhauls, because it would literally take weeks, and waiting and coordinating parts and smaller machining services from many different sources. Once you got the whole thing together, if you missed a tiny detail, or if the engine maching people machiend something out of tolerance, or if the part you were supplied turned out to be slightly wrong, it would have to come apart again to resolve that problem.

In contrast, I liked doing things like electrical diagnosis, refrigeration and air conditioning repair, and engine computer control diagnosis, because it was a fun way to do problem solving, and because I could do 4-5 of these repairs in a day.

I think test cases is something that people were hoping to do with Amazon’s MechanicalTurk?. But, I think for OpenSource software, there could be a kind of “open” MechanicalTurk?, where people could help accelerate development by taking on many small tasks.

I am also starting to wonder about the idea of splitting up rendering of 3D animation in OpenLicensed? movie projects, like by using some kind of BOINC-like client system to distribute and use spare computer cycles. I don’t yet know about the feasibility of this. But it could increase the capability of “open” movie/animation creation projects, if it were possible.

I have just now found http://burp.boinc.dk/, based on BOINC

“open” movie/animation creation projects? I’ve heard of ExtinctionLevelEvent? . What other open movie projects are currently active? (Perhaps TulsaMovieMaker would be a better place to make a list of them).

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