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  • protection from newcomers

    As Robert Kraut of Building Successful Online Communities explains, online communities face a critical challenge in engaging newcomers and helping them adjust to the new environment. While newcomers can bring innovative ideas and resources to the community, they can also harm it with misbehavior caused by their unfamiliarity with community norms. To tackle this challenge, Kraut et al. identified five basic issues faced by online communities when dealing with newcomers and proposed several design claims for each problem. 

    One of the major issues is that newcomers are different from the existing members, and thus the influx of newcomers might change the environment or the culture developed by existing members. Moreover, new members might also behave inappropriately, and thus be potentially harmful to online communities, as a result of their lack of experience. Additionally, different communities might have different levels of damage tolerance, some being more fragile to newcomers' inappropriate behavior (such as open-source group collaboration software projects) while others are not (such as some discussion forums).

    To address these challenges, groups need to have protection mechanisms that serve multiple purposes, including integrating new members with existing communities while also maintaining the integrity of the community culture. This requires careful design of the community's structure, including its norms, policies, and the socialization process for newcomers. For example, new members may need to go through an orientation process to familiarize themselves with the community norms and practices.

    The key to successfully integrating newcomers into online communities is to strike a balance between integrating them while also preserving the culture and norms of the community. This can be achieved through careful design of the community's structure and socialization process, along with the implementation of protection mechanisms to address any potential harm caused by newcomers' inappropriate behavior.

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