Digistan seeks to deliver accurate, rapid, and economic answers to complex questions. We consider the following aspects to be important characteristics of our organization:
- Quality of mission. A clear statement of goals ensures overall focus and reduces conflict. A bold statement attracts and holds the very best participants.
- Appropriate funding. Sustainable long-term funding for organizational infrastructure enables contributions from more and better participants.
- Freedom of access. Financial, geographic, or other barriers to entry reduce the diversity of participants, which reduces overall creativity.
- Well-written rules. Clear rules backed by neutral authority resolve most disagreement before it happens, and allow people to trust each other implicitly.
- Vandal resistance. The ability to detect and punish vandals, and to recover from damage ensures that groups can survive the often hostile real world.
- Tools and processes. The quality of tools and processes defines how efficiently participants can aggregate information into knowledge.
- Freedom to organise. Identifying the problems, allocating resources, and monitoring success are better done by the participants than by top-down managers.
- Competent authority. A strong authority that is ultimately responsible for the mission ensures that participants trust the rules and each other.
- Organic growth. Groups need to attract new participants over time, or they become stagnant. Growth requires marketing, especially of competence.
- Decentralised work. Geographic separation and diversity ensures participants think independently, free from the influence of strong opinion makers.
- Transparency. In general, secrecy enables incompetence, and transparency promotes competence. The more public the organisation's work, the better.
- Free workspaces. If the organization offers free workspaces to anyone who wants them, individuals will experiment and invest more.
- Strong identities. Clear identification of contributors is a key tool for detecting and recovering from vandalism.
- Local ownership. When teams and individuals have full control over ("own") their work, they have much more incentive to invest.
- Proper attribution. When contributors are be credited for their work this creates a strong incentive to pro-bono contributors.
- Meritocratic structure. With proper tools to rank and promote individual members based on contribution, the best participants have more influence over the collective process.
- Metrics for success. Between individuals and between subgroups, competition for public recognition is a key motivator.
- Work is remixable. It is important to formally promote sharing and discourage privatisation of work, though the use of appropriate licenses.
- Neat structures. Communities need a predictable structure so that new entrants can easily identify the area where they can be most effective.
These criteria are a subset of a list defined by Pieter Hintjens in 2007. The theory is that groups organize better when individuals have certain freedoms. You will probably recognize these criteria in many successful collaborative projects, from Wikipedia to the Linux ecosystem.