BBC Home

Explore the BBC

13th July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
default banner
BBC Homepage

Knowledge Base
Who's Online

Book of the Future
Talk Buffy
Get Writing
Parent's Music Room

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

New visitors: Create your membership
Returning members: Sign in

Transparency and DNA

Transparent: Easily seen through, recognised, understood, or detected; manifest, evident, obvious, clear.
Source: Oxford English Dictionary

A healthy online community is self-aware and self-organising. Community members consider that they are the true owners of their community, and that the host is just offering server space and facilitating interactions1.

Ask First

Forcing plans or new organisational structures upon a community will only be met with resentment and antagonism unless the proposed changes are discussed with the members first. Transparency is therefore essential. If the Editors intend to change a structure or a rule, it's important that they spell out their precise intentions to the community first. They must answer the questions: 'What are we proposing to do?' and 'What do we hope to achieve?'

It's important for Editors to encourage discussion and debate amongst community members. They should enter the conversations and answer each question as it arises, and should listen to what people are saying and take their concerns seriously.

Once they've discussed the issues and worked out a scheme that is workable in the eyes of the community, they can go ahead and implement the changes. This may seem like a lot of unnecessary effort, but it really is more time effective for the Editors to discuss changes with the community beforehand, rather than to deal with the flak that they risk incurring if they implement a badly thought-out scheme.

Remember: the community belongs to the members, not to the Editors.

Tell the Truth

Being transparent means telling the truth. As in real life, lies are either detected immediately, or they come back to haunt you; inconsistencies in responses are gleefully pointed out by some of the more scrupulous community members.

If the Editors are asked a difficult question by a community member, then they should answer truthfully, even if the answer is 'I made a mistake'. If they give evasive or misleading answers then they won't be trusted. Building a relationship based on trust and mutual respect is essential if the Editors want the community to co-operate with their team.

1 One way to describe the relationship between the hosts and the community members is that it's similar to that between landlords and tenants. The landlord takes care of the building, but that doesn't entitle him to dictate or intervene in the lives of the people who live in his buildings.

Discuss this Article

People have been talking about this Article. Here are the most recent Conversations:
Application of the definition? (Last Posting: Nov 29, 2006)
Landlords & Tenants (Last Posting: Nov 28, 2006)
Somebody ought to tell somebody. (Last Posting: Feb 1, 2006)
Don't forget... (Last Posting: Jan 19, 2006)
reference A ARTICLES (Last Posting: Dec 31, 2004)

Article Data
Article ID: A787223 (Help Page)
Edited by:

Date: 15   July   2002

Most of the content on this site is created by our Members, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here to alert our Moderation Team. For any other comments, please start a Conversation below.