This post is fifth in a series of my Social Media Principles. The base post is 10 Social Media Principles.
“Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
5. Rules beget rules – The more rules you have, the more rules you make.
Rules and law are reactions to disturbances in society. In being reactions, they tend to be created in the heat of the moment and within a psychological framework driven by some specific event. This limits the applicability of rules and laws. Exceptions soon ensue.
Then there are exceptions to the exceptions.
And we make more rules.
Soon, we are drowning in the overhead of administering rules with cascading exception sets. We get loopholes, we get workarounds, we get special permissions (which require new special rules). So, rules create waste.
As waste is created, people buck against rules. They stop acting because they don’t want to encounter the overhead. When they stop acting, they stop producing.
Social Media shows us that projects with limited but clear rules foster creativity and that game theory is a better arbiter of human interaction. The question is, can you build games that have rule sets flexible enough to allow creativity, and stringent yet predictable enough to allow healthy gaming?
“The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.”
George Bernard Shaw
Sites like Digg and Twitter, have shown that, left unchecked, people can game the system for personal benefit and to the detriment of the community. However, when the games are anticipated and thoughtfully moderated (and as much as possible by the community), then you can build games that have rewards for the main constituencies:
- The community – those supplying the material (content / labor / product)
- The organization – that which takes that material and redistributes it for profit or societal benefit
- The users – those that use the material
The main point of the game … to remove the distinction from the community and the organization as much as possible. The more they are the same, the better material you get and the more game theory drives the organization. The greater the separation between organization, the greater the need for rules. And the more rules …
Update: An Bui has posted her take on Rules Beget Rules, her’s is very different, check it out.
Blogged at My House AGAIN due to endless snow in Seattle, WA