Navigating between Chaos and Bureaucracy: Backgrounding Trust in Open-Content Communities

  • Paul B. de Laat
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7710)


Many virtual communities that rely on user-generated content (such as social news sites, citizen journals, and encyclopedias in particular) offer unrestricted and immediate ‘write access’ to every contributor. It is argued that these communities do not just assume that the trust granted by that policy is well-placed; they have developed extensive mechanisms that underpin the trust involved (‘backgrounding’). These target contributors (stipulating legal terms of use and developing etiquette, both underscored by sanctions) as well as the contents contributed by them (patrolling for illegal and/or vandalist content, variously performed by humans and bots; voting schemes). Backgrounding trust is argued to be important since it facilitates the avoidance of bureaucratic measures that may easily cause unrest among community members and chase them away.


access bots bureaucracy etiquette open content trust vandalism Wikipedia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul B. de Laat
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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