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Universal guidelines for collaborative communication

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Oct 19, 2020
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In an attempt to solve the problem of rivalrous dynamics in online communication, we could try to come up with universal guidelines for collaborative communication.

The guidelines would be specifically designed to maximize collaboration and inclusion while preventing rivalrous dynamics from diverting the dialogue away from the intended objectives. Online communities could opt to implement these guidelines as their default way of communicating.

Can we come up with the basic principles for collaborative communication?

At this point, I'm not talking about the rules and how to enforce them. We first need the basic principles of collaborative communication.

Below this line is an outline of what such a set of guidelines might look like. Consider it a first draft. I will keep editing it with your suggestions until we get it right. What should we add/change?

Universal guidelines for collaborative communication

Prerequisites to collaborative communication:
  1. Effective communication toward a goal
  2. A friendly environment in which collaboration can thrive
  3. What else?

Effective communication toward a goal

To communicate effectively, design your message to achieve these 3 objectives simultaneously:

  1. Elicit the audience’s desire to take in your information
  2. Make the information understandable to the audience
  3. Drive toward a result (knowledge, action, response, etc)

If your audience doesn’t want to read, doesn’t understand, or doesn’t respond to your message, is it the wrong audience or a poorly designed message?

Elicit the audience’s desire to take in your information

  • Make sure the topic is of interest/value to the audience
  • Make your message the least energy-demanding (easy to read)
  • Build up a reputation as a person who never wastes the audience’s time

Make the information understandable to the audience

  • Use language/jargon/level that the audience is comfortable with
  • Explain difficult concepts with examples and analogies
  • When possible have people review your message, then iterate according to feedback

Drive toward a result

  • What are you really trying to achieve?
  • Figure out how this can be achieved through communication
  • Honesty and open-mindedness are key to working with people
  • Come up with a good delivery and iterate it to perfection

Creative contributions

A common language

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Oct 20, 2020
Since people from all around the world will drop in, a superfast expert translation service needs to be incorporated into that software/ platform. The easiest way is to decide a common language, have every input translate to the common language, and every output from the common language to the language of the user. That way, if there are x languages in the world, the translation system needs to translate one sentence only from and into (x-1) languages. On the other hand, if we do not use a common language to pool every input into, the system might need to have the capacity to translate one sentence into (x*x) languages, which is an energy- and time-consuming task to prepare such a system.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 years ago
AI will soon be able to solve the language barrier problem
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Avoid meetings

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Oct 20, 2020
Different time zones make it difficult to have all the necessary people online at the same time. Therefore, meetings should be avoided as far as possible. Another benefit of texting is that most things will be decided before-hand, giving plenty of time to prepare and avoid last-minute haste.
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Rivalrous dynamics exposure protocol

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Oct 20, 2020
There could be some kind of a protocol that is applied when anyone notices communication taking a downturn because of status games.

Anyone could trigger it upon noticing the cause of communication degradation. They would briefly describe the cause.

This could be done manually or via software. If manually, then someone could simply step up and say "hey, I think that wasn't nice to say because ..." Preferably it would be a 3rd party, not directly involved in the exchange.

The software-based protocol could go something like this: upon protocol initiation, all parties would be notified that communication seems to have taken a downturn. The notification would:
  • politely and respectfully remind everyone of the principles of collaborative communication
  • the notification would include a very specific explanation of what seems to have gone wrong (the initiator would include a brief summary)
  • the process would be anonymous but everyone would know that only valid participants could trigger such protocol
  • everyone could optionally confirm whether they think the protocol was justified or not
If nobody confirms or if the majority disagrees nothing happens. If the majority agrees that the protocol was justified then the "offender" gets a warning. Repeating offenses start collecting points. When the points get over a threshold such a person is excluded from the community.

The protocol itself could be abused as a trolling tool, so whoever initiates it should include a reason why they think it is justified in the given situation. There should be a protocol abuse-score which adds up with each wrongful initiation of the protocol.

Having such a thing in place would make people think twice about their words and motives. Everyone would know that others are on a lookout for the "side story" that goes on simultaneously to the main conversation. The side story is usually about social status.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 years ago
I like the idea. I found a bug and cannot find a way to overcome it. Things will not remain black and white as time passes. What happens if 50% of the community supports the protocol and the remaining opposes? Secondly, if 51% support, is majority a sufficient enough criterion to decide the virtual fate of a person? There is a high chance that the majority may be wrong in this case.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 years ago
Shubhankar KulkarniIf the protocol makes it into such universal guidelines for collaborative communication it would be implemented by communities at the time of inception. People would then join (or not) based on whether they can play by the rules of such communities. The rules would by default include collaborative communication. People who don't like it would gather around different types of environments that are as hostile as any forum today.

Existing communities deciding whether to implement such rules (or not) would themselves be responsible to figure out a fair way of reaching consensus.

Communities that already have such a protocol in place can look at it this way:

All this protocol really achieves is to hold a spotlight on the "side story" that goes on alongside any conversation. If there is anything nasty in the main story or the side story, the protocol serves to tell everyone "hey, that wasn't nice". The penalty is not even required. Someone who is trying to one-up another conversation participant and gets caught doing so is already penalized by loss of virtue. Really nasty people would get excluded from communities anyway because they are detrimental to the environment.

The score could as well be informational only. If people gang up on each-other and vote just to manipulate the results then the environment is hostile in any case and it's time to move out or clean up.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 years ago
Darko Savic Your last paragraph sums up my fears perfectly. A non-policing (no punishment) environment works for small communities. When you talk global, things get chaotic and social dynamics change. We then need police to ensure justice (and equality). If we let the chaos continue (no police), it is better to move out, as you rightly pointed out. However, when the community is global, there is nowhere to move out. Cleaning up is the only way out, which certainly requires police. Then why not use the police from the start and maintain discipline for a longer period?
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