[FM Discuss] motivations [was : the nature of authorship]
adam at flossmanuals.net
Mon Apr 13 11:28:48 PDT 2009
On Sun, 2009-04-12 at 06:52 -0400, Andy Oram wrote:
> and ended
> up discovering a "romantic" attachment to the start of the chapter.
don't get too involved andy. there's always a chance it will end in
> There's a divide between material that gets mixed in with everybody
> else's (in a wiki) and material that stands alone with your name on
> it. I think the people who make a virtual second career posting to
> Amazon.com do it to build a reputation. (And what good does that do
> them? I never figured it out.)
in the case of FM, I think we have mixed motivations as Emma suggests.
There are some that come to contribute for personal satisfaction and
some to enhance their reputation. When the contributions get mixed it
gets interesting. How does an author, enhancing their reputation by
contributing to FM, feel when someone contributing for their own reasons
comes and writes over their material...I guess this leads to classic
edit wars as known via wikipedia. We haven't seen that yet, but
interesting to observe if and when it happens.
To take it a little further, it would be interesting to consider the
matrix of authorship OR collaborative writing vs collaborative knowledge
production OR authoritative voice.
Personally I reside in the collaborative writing + collaborative
knowledge production column. I feel motivated by collaboration and not
particularly interested in being perceived as an expert. However I'm
not the only one writing for FM anymore (woohoo!) - FM is expanding a
lot and I wonder how we can keep these motivations balanced so that
those motivated by each of these factors get something out of it. Emmas
post was interesting commentary on this.
> O'Reilly was talking to a company that had lots of customers posting to
> its forums. When we suggested they consolidate advice by making a
> wiki, they said the posters would balk. Most of the posters were
> consultants trying to earn points for posting and recruit clients.
> They wouldn't be recognized as well if they were contributors to a
> wiki. Not very romantic, but a sign of the ego involved in writing.
> FLOSS Manuals encourages participation by recognizing contributors.
We certainly do recognise participants but, for example, there are many
that contribute under psuedonyms. Freaky Clown was one of the most
active contributors to the Command Line manual. If you were motivated by
recognition would you contribute under an assumed name? I dont think
so...it seems to me there is a lot of people motivated by the fact that
they believe in the goals of FM and are happy to contribute because of
I also think many contribute because its fun.
> don't think that most of them have a strong vision of what the book
> should be, and such people would have trouble contributing no matter
> how you organize the work and the resulting material. Some people
> might do more if recognition were more precise.
I agree with you, however I wonder what would happen to the culture of
FM if we became primarily a reputation based organisation? This is how
traditional publishing and authorship works, but I dont know if it
reflects how we do or should operate. Thats not to say we should not
accredit and highlight people for their work, but I do wonder about the
effect this has on the culture of FM which in turn begs the question -
what mix of motivations do we aspire to support and how do we keep them
its a big question i know, but an important one...i'm very interested in
anyones (everyones) point of view on this...
(for those interested in reading more about research on what motivates
people to contribute to similar projects, there are some interesting
papers on wikipedia contributors at opensource.mit.edu)
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "adam hyde" <adam at flossmanuals.net>
> To: "floss" <discuss at lists.flossmanuals.net>
> Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2009 4:14:11 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
> Subject: [FM Discuss] the nature of authorship
> I just was asked to discuss a possible panel for wikimania 09 about the
> romantic notion of authorship. The panel will possibly reflect on what
> authorship is and how it is, or is not, effected by licensing.
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.flossmanuals.net
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