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by Jay Fienberg

Moderation and games in confined spaces

posted: Oct 14, 2003 5:44:15 PM

I am a big fan of Derek Powazek's book Design for Community, but hadn't noticed Derek's online follow-up essay on Gaming the system: How moderation tools can backfire until seeing Clay Shirky's recent post, Powazek on Moderation and Secrets, on Many2Many.

Derek's essay is quite interesting, and it explores in detail some of the same things I noted in my August post on Social networks got game.

I also think this is relevant to the recent posts from Don Park on trusted email networks, Tim Bray on TEN-like Solution, and from Joi Ito on IP Banning comment spammers.

In other words, we all moderate the potential of our exposure in relationship to others (which is partially another way of saying we expose only certain facets of our identity to others—see danah boyd's recent post on faceted identity != multiple personas, also on Many2Many).

The less personal our relationships, the more we benefit from systems (e.g., caller ID) to help us moderate. (In a personal relationship, say with your spouse, you can make less systematic agreements, both because you can take the time to do so, and also because the relationship supports evolving agreements in subtle and dynamic ways.)

At the same time, people use systems to get around your systems of moderation (e.g., caller ID blocking). SPAM is a variant on this dynamic between moderation and getting around moderation, in that the privacy of one's email address plus spam filters can be seen as being a system of moderating one's exposure to unwanted email.

Whatever systems we create to help moderate our exposure to others, I think their limitations ultimately correspond with limitations of space. On the Internet, usually the concept of space is that of an address space, whether meaning every email address or the address of a website's discussion forum (e.g., that has a moderation system).

With any space, there are boundaries that define it. Access through those boundaries is a matter of moderation. Your email box is a bounded space, and to whom you give your email address plus your spam filters together moderate what comes into your mailbox.

Although our physical bodies could be said to limit us to a confined space, our lives in the larger sense are dynamic in relation to spaces in both physical and non-physical ways. We physically move around into and through different physical spaces, and we also dynamically create and modify virtual group "spaces", being whatever conceptual or non-physical but experiential common ground people share with each other.

Space moderates. We use spaces to moderate our exposures, our introductions. In the context of enough space, or enough spaces, we are flexible.

The Internet itself is like infinite space, or infinite spaces, but our email, forums, blogs, etc., as confined identities, bind our online interactions to limited address spaces. That confinement limits our flexibility to dynamically and creatively moderate our exposures. At the same time, that confinement provides a context for dynamically and creatively "gaming" its boundaries.

(Note: my recent post on Faceted FOAF and danah on contextualizing a social network website covers some related ideas.)

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trackback from: the iCite net development blog
posted: Jan 19, 2004 3:36:21 PM
title: Categorizing verbs (to blog) rather than nouns (blogs)

What happens when you look / go to the same place all the time and everyone knows it? You have to deal with moderation and games in confined spaces (as I described it in October).

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posted: Apr 27, 2006 3:56:42 PM

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