We should identify types of credit:

There's no limit to what a man can achieve, if he isn't concerned whether or not he gets the credit for it. -- General George C. Marshall: US Army Chief of Staff during WWII, author of the "Marshall Plan", Nobel Peace Prize-winner.

Dealing with Credit Attribution

Credit is assigned along a PowerLaw. There is no way to prevent people from assigning credit to people who are undeserving of it.

Fortunately, our communities have a way around this problem. The person who takes public credit (naturally) has a community around them that led them to their ideas, after all. The community has some influence over the figurehead.

Here are some informal rules that I think can resolve the credit situation:

We are now Japan

We are now Japan. In Japan, there are hoards of people in a tiny place. They have developed a very particular ethic for dealing with lots of people in a small space.

Due to the nature of the Internet, we are in Zero-Space. There is no space. We're all just here. And it's going to get very, very, very, crowded, what with the InternetConcentration, the improving tools, and larger numbers of people coming on line.

We are now Japan. And we will probably be adopting the sort of Japanese ethic, for better and/or worse. Personally, I think for better.

We will probably start to talk about "we" more often.

See also: HiveAllocation, MeatballWiki:AuthorshipCredit


I'd prefer not to any particular cases.

But I think we've all experienced "coming up" with something, and finding it was already come up with.

And I think we've all experienced someone else saying they came up with something, and being publicly lauded and exhilirated for doing so, when in fact it was something you came up with yourself years ago.

In fact, someone may say they came up with something, just posting the idea, and you're half-way through implementing the thing.

Or maybe someone else came up with, and developed, the very thing 30 years ago, and just nobody knows better.

DeathToCredit?. :)

There are other ways to do things, as well. Form consensus, and stuff. But I think that it takes an individual not to stop a group from doing other things.

Maybe we should think about who should be our figurehead, and what we expect from them. Whoever it is, should probably be someone who's a blogger.

Or maybe a group of bloggers? That could be better. But some person or group that's accountable to the larger community, with the bonus of having the conscious blessings of the community.

So, Lion: I see a couple of problems, here. First, I strongly disagree with you that credit needs to be done away with. Yet you don't supply any reasons why people shouldn't get personal credit for their work.

I also find the academic exception a little self-serving. After all, people who aren't academics want credit, too. Commercially, for community status, or for a hundred other reasons, people like to get credit for their work.

I'm not really swayed by the idea that there are lots of people, so we can't get credit for our work. Why not? There's lots of people on the Internet now, and they get credit. There's maybe a couple of orders of magnitude more people on Earth who could be "coming in", and they may or may not cultural expectations of credit. But I don't see the population issue as sufficient to require creditless work.

I'd say this: in a GiftEconomy, reputation and credit are the only reward people get for the work they do and the information they give away. EricRaymond calls this motivation for volunteer activity "egoboo". Denying this to people probably will be counterproductive. And I don't see what it hurts.

In a GiftEconomy, reputation and credit are the only reward by definition.

But I haven't seen any gift economies.

GiftEconomy is a fiction that was invented to sell Libertarians on FreeCulture. They can't understand anything that doesn't have the word "Economy" in it. They live in abstractions. Hence, "GiftEconomy" was invented for them.

But they don't actually exist.

I mean, point to one person here, in CommunityWiki, who's only reward for writing "free content" for our "GiftEconomy" is "reputation and social woofie," or whatever we want to call it.

One person.

I don't think you can even point to yourself.

The problem with credit is that it's mis-allocated. It's assigned by a power-law. This means that most people aren't credited for what they do. And a few are massively credited for what they did not do.

I wrote a whole bunch of stuff, and then half-way through, realized something important.

This is all, basically, pretty much, decided.

I mean, barring major successful attacks on the HiveMind, (which is entirely imaginable,) major successful attacks on the Internet, this is all basically decided.

  1. The InternetConcentration is happening, and will continue to happen.
  2. Groups of what would have previously been called "Amateurs" on the Internet are going to be routinely besting the academics, who can't even talk straight.
  3. Word will get out, and philanthropists and community members alike will start thinking about how to contribute to the Internet groups.
  4. Internet groups and philanthropists alike will realize that collaboration is the name of the game, and that everyone is participating. Everyone in a collection of groups is helping out, regardless of "name" and "fame" (which is a fool's game of personality and avarice, not actual merit) and that is best accounted for.
  5. So the groups will federate. They'll have recommended bloggers that they assign their names to, and they'll practice some form of HiveAllocation.

Those groups that don't actually do anything but make bold pronouncements in the quest for credit will be ignored. And there will be bottom-up institutions making that clear.

The battle is already decided.

We're just now going through the motions of educating ourselves.

I mean, look at how pretty much any bottom-up community allocates. And look at how pretty much any top-down organization allocates.

Communities allocate pretty much evenly. Top-down organizations allocate by a PowerLaw. Guess which the HiveMind is?

Welcome to the HiveMind. Mind the community norms. Enjoy your stay.

Haha :D -- I'm not so sure about your optimism. Even if DavidBrin's Age of the Amateurs may yet come to happen, I sincerely fear the option of yet another police state. Not as crude as fascism, but slow moves towards an ever increasing power imbalance. We don't even need massive internment because of silly drug abuse or massive imprisonment of people presumed guilty. A benevolent police state is already bad enough. And we can see that happening as well. Enjoy your stay?

As for GiftEconomy's: my main experience with these is through rave culture, BurningMan, and OpenSource software. I agree that there's more to creativity than just getting egoboo from others. But it is a major part.

Lastly, it'll be a cold day in hell when I work to improve the reputation of some self-aggrandizing blogger. Don't bloggers already have sufficiently overblown egos? B-)

-heh-. my feelings about this are almost diametrically opposed. instead of death to credit, i'd like to see lots more credit given, for all the hard work so many unsung people do. i don't want the people whose work inspires me subsumed by some faceless mass of worker bees. i notice that i already don't like it when i get replies from customer service reps who're just signing with the name of their company. i want to know with which individual i am corresponding!

furthermore, i don't think the only thing that matters is being the first to have thought of something, or more importantly, implemented it -- anyone who did so deserves some credit, because it took effort, and it's cool. ideally i think i'd like to see a lot more credit, but have it be worth somewhat less, because none of us comes up with things in a vacuum; we're all influenced by others who came before us, even if we can't name them. the cult of the first, that's something i've long since thought questionable.

none of this stands in the way of working together, IMO. DevolvePower, giving more credit to others whose work inspires and contributes, that seems to me a much better path to follow than trying to eradicate credit.

besides, the pragmatic in me says that you'll never be able to make the entire world credit-free, because there are too many power-hungry people, and all you'll do is allow them to grab more credit for themselves if the rest of us give up ours. that's already happening -- large companies are treated like persons, and try to take credit even for things employees develop on their own time. and don't get me started on academic abuse of credit -- i want to see every supervisor whose name gets listed first on a paper when all zie's done is make a few corrections up against a wall of shame.

Death to nothing. The pagename was an unlucky choice. I agree that the mode of giving credit is distorted today in many ways (maybe it was better once, looong ago, dunnno, I tend to think so, I know, which might be wrong, a weakness). I agree as well that credit is an essential human desire and an inevitale - and refinable - mechanismn to construct and shape society.

I agree with Piranha. (although I'm not totally sure; it's possible DeathToCredit? would be better).

I agree. Looking back, I think the page name was a terrible idea.

Pir's response strikes me as best.

However, I do think that the balance of credit is out of wack, and I do think that there should be more conversation about credit.

A new page, then, I think is in order: RefiningCredit?, or RethinkingCredit?

It seems reasonable to me to believe that the AgeOfTheAmateur? may never happen. It also seems reasonable to me to believe that it will happen. They are both reasonable beliefs.

I want to work to make it happen.

Part of this- I think we need to rethink credit.

CreditForWork? seems what we are talking about. What is a healthy system, what is not. As for the weblog stuff, I like the nice shiny metal (features of commenting, rss, one click posting). Because of my start date on the internet (2002.02), those for me are like candy. I never followed the news before, now I spew it out on my weblog like a FireHouse?, or so sez my friend BrianKerr ;-) - My fear of writing has to be flushed soon...

I find it odd that my professional society's "Code of Ethics" mentions "accept responsibility" and "give credit" before it mentions "avoid injuring others".

We ... agree ... to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the contributions of others; ...

Is there a way to "accept responsibility" without "demanding credit" ?

-- DavidCary


Define external redirect: CreditForWork DeathToCredit RefiningCredit FireHouse AgeOfTheAmateur

EditNearLinks: BurningMan FreeCulture OpenSource DevolvePower DavidBrin GiftEconomy EricRaymond