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?
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