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The Economies of Online Cooperation:

The Internet is filled with junk and jerks. It is commonplace for inhabitant of the Internet to complain bitterly about the lack of cooperation, decorum, and useful information. The signal-to-noise ratio, it is said, is bad and getting worse.

Even a casual trip through cyberspace will turn up evidence of hostility, selfishness, and simple nonsense. Yet the wonder of the Internet is not that there is so much noise, but that there is any significant cooperation at all. Given that online interaction is relatively anonymous, that there is no central authority, and that it is difficult or impossible to impose monetary or physical sanctions on someone, it is striking that the Internet is not literally a war of all against all. For a student of social order, what needs to be explained is not the amount of conflict but the great amount of sharing and cooperation that does occur in online communities.

This might be useful in the “commodification” discussion.

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