Legitimacy, defined as fairness plus public good, is a proposed necessary online and physical community requirement. As Fukuyama notes, legitimate societies tend to prosper, while others ignore legitimacy at their peril. Online communities are social-technical systems (STS), built upon social requirements as well as technical ones like bandwidth. As technical problems are increasingly solved, social problems like spam rise in relevance. If software can do almost anything in cyberspace, there is still the challenge of what should it do? Guidelines are needed. We suggest that online communities could decide information rights as communities decide physical action rights, by a legitimacy analysis. This requires a framework to specify social rights in information terms. To bridge the social-technical gap, between what communities want and technology does, rights must be translated into information terms. Our framework has four elements: information actors (people, groups, agents), information objects (persona, containers, items, comments, mail, votes), information methods (create, delete, edit, view, move, display, transfer and delegate), and the information context. The conclusions apply to any social-technical community, and we apply the framework to the case of Wikipedia.


Online Community Information Object Bulletin Board Public Ownership Information Term 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Whitworth
    • 1
  • Aldo de Moor
    • 2
  • Tong Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Massey University (Albany)AucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.STARLabVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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