[Foundation-l] Definition of "community" (was: This is not an Advertisement)

habj sweetadelaide at gmail.com
Sat Dec 30 12:20:18 UTC 2006

This post is a response to a small part on a post in another thread,
and has little or no connection to the original subject of that

2006/12/28, Brad Patrick <bradp.wmf at gmail.com>:

> Hmm, I think you may be missing something pretty important.  In fact, the
> definition of community is the single most difficult thing to agree upon.
> What is my community, your community, etc. does not have answers.  The Board
> retreat could not answer it with the 25 people who were there.  The Board
> itself cannot agree on the meaning.  Certainly, though, you do not have the
> hubris to think that this thing called Wikimedia exists only for editors, to
> the exclusion of the millions of people who view it every day?  I view the
> orthodox idea that the community consists of, and can only consist of,
> editors as being at least as insulting as the opposite would be to Horning.
> Millions of people *read* the site, and do not contribute a comma.  And
> that's okay!   Generators *and* consumers of free culture must be
> incorporated.  If we are philosophically opposed as people who differ on
> whether a sound is made when a tree falls in  forest, so be it.

The group of people who edit certainly make up a pretty well-defined
community. If one wants, one can think of a community also including
the readers. That is to me, and I believe to must of us editors, a
much more abstract concept. There is nothing wrong with abstract
concepts, and when one needs such one invents them. In theory one
could also have a much wider concept for community in which, for
instance, matching donors are members.

The fundraiser FAQ talks over and over about donations from the
community and donations from companies. It seemed to me the text
assumed that the only individuals who would give money in a fundraiser
such as this one, were the editors. That made me puzzled, to say the
least. The explanation that the Board or its members might sometimes
use the word "community" it in a wider sense than I expected explained
a lot. My language does not have a word exactly matching "community"
in context, and so I usually translate it "wikigemenskap", which
litterally would be wiki community. This is clearly the more narrow
definitions of the word, while the FAQ has chosen the inbetween
definition in which readers and non-editors are included but matching
donators are not. I will go through the draft translation of that FAQ
and replace "wikigemenskap" with the equivalent of "users and
readers", and then that text will make much better sense.

If the Board can not decide what "the community" means, then the Board
should stop probably avoid that term, and search for a more precise
terminology. Things like "the editing community", "the editing
community across all projects", "the Polish language editing
community", "the German Wiktionary editing community" and "the
community of editors and readers" in a certain projects or on all,
should work fine. If one does not know which finder definition to
choose - it means one does not know what one is referring to.

Confusion should be avoided - not only to make life easier for translators.


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