Clay Shirky on the tension between usability and protecting the core community

I think there's a lot of merit in this idea.

Having totally free entry and exit may be good to grow the appendages of the community, but it can seriously damage the community's backbone. (How's that for a community health metaphor?) I've seen it even in big disputes, where you actually have 20 people locked in a controversial discussion for months, and eventually arrive at an agreement... and just as they're about to implement the changes, 15 more people jump in and say "no compromise!" Meanwhile, they weren't there for months trying to understand all the different issues in the debate, and trying to find a way to reconcile all of it. I'm not sure that we want to exclude people from discussions, but we know that it's impossible to hammer out a tough issue in the current environment.

And I think we can harmonize two goals here. Newbies often have a bad experience because they get into trouble. And the core community is often disrupted by editors who refuse to set aside their personal opinions to work together. A little bit of hierarchy would actually protect new users from misusing relatively advanced concepts, and also give a little more weight to our best volunteers to help them get things done.

Randomran02:43, 1 December 2009