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Brainstorming session

How to minimize rivalrous dynamics and maximize collaboration on online platforms

How to minimize rivalrous dynamics and maximize collaboration on online platforms

By Darko Savic on Jul 22, 2020


What, in your opinion, are the necessary conditions to maintain collaboration across a big, mixed group of people? How do we prevent rivalrous status games from shifting the dynamics of online communities from collaborative toward the hostile spectrum?


Competition emerges whenever multiple entities are faced with limited resources in a win/lose situation. This is an inevitable and natural driving force of human behavior. As a tribal species, we put great emphasis on our own position in the social hierarchy. Even in a peaceful environment we subconsciously engage in polite verbal battles to subtly elevate ourselves above others. This tends to escalate as people deploy ever more aggressive tactics to one-up each other. Such status games prevent collaboration and often hijack the direction of conversations.


Luckily, collaboration - a process where multiple entities join forces to achieve common goals also comes naturally to our species. This is especially evident on a cellular level, where every cell contributes to the wellbeing of the organism. It tends to happen in nature whenever we realize that we are on the same team.

There is only so much a person can achieve alone. There are complex goals that cannot be achieved individually or even by moderate-sized closed groups of people. Some goals require humanity to come together in a concerted effort. Examples: climate change, human biological immortality, space travel, terraforming planets, general artificial intelligence, engineered virus resistance, the ultimate cure for cancer, etc.

How can we keep the status games at bay?

Any online platform aspiring to bring people together will need to keep the users’ status games in check. Traditionally this has been attempted through policing and self-policing. This is our evolving code of conduct. Nowadays technology in the form of various AI algorithms can be used to detect and prevent people from uprooting the platform’s purpose of existence.

What are some great examples where groups of people joined forces to achieve a common, complex goal which was otherwise unlikely to be achievable without collaboration? Could we extract principles from these examples and replicate the conditions online?

Creative contributions

Can you help with useful insight that will move us closer to the goal? Add your thoughts


I hypothesize that anonymity may reduce the incentive for someone to care about status elevation since the content is not tied to their identity. For instance, I feel a bit hesitant to make this submission since part of me is worried that it won't look good. On the other hand, there's 4chan. From what I recall, a lot of collaboration can sometimes happen on there, but also people can be really mean to each other. Perhaps anonymity combined with a lot of moderation would work well.

by Dony Christie on Jul 27, 2020

Darko Savic 9 days ago

So making it impossible for people to build up their online profiles and thus it would be pointless to one-up each other. But at the same time bringing the consequences to those who are mean to others. There would have to be some kind of incentive for people to not just abandon accounts and be mean from new ones. For example, you would need to build up some kind of value which takes a while before people even start seeing your posts. Then again, such a barrier to entry would discourage participation so the community would be extremely slow to build but high quality if it takes off....

Darko Savic 9 days ago

Interesting. Imagine that - a totally anonymous platform where in every thread you get a random name, you keep it for the duration of that thread but in the next thread it's all gone, you start fresh. All you have is your quality score which either lets other people see your posts or not (yet). The more value you bring to others, the better your score and faster people see your contributions....

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