Kindness in Cyberspace?

Sheen S. LevineMail link

The Sharing of Valuable Goods On-line

The Wharton School

University of Pennsylvania

Sharing is Everywhere


Internet Reality

Common Presumptions

Organizational Setting

Technological Setting

Technological Setting creates Natural Controls

Voluntary Sharing

Types of Interaction

  1. Requests for information
  2. Discussion of governance
  3. Enforcement of group norms
  4. Chatting and joking

Requests for Information

"How do I listen to a file before downloading?"

Discussion of Governance

"Don't post requests in binaries group"

"Limit your postings to 75 MB/day"

"Read the FAQ before posting questions"

"Do we need a new 2000s group?"

Enforcement of Group Norms

"I don't understand, and I don't care about your schedule and whether or not you keep to it"

Chatting and Joking

"Because we're among friends widely ranging topics and personal issues are sometimes discussed"


"I try to scan through every request just about every day."

"I love music and I'm fascinated with computer technology. I also like to help people, so that's why I participate in the group"

"This group is a social organization. It's about people and music as well as technique."

"The medium makes sharing imperative. It's not yours to begin with, so deriving personal benefit from its distribution is viewed as criminal. That is an ethic unique to Usenet."

"there are untold thousands who are benefiting from that collaboration."

Implications for Research

Implications for Managers