Unpredictable Risks &Trust Issues with Internet Communities

The internet provides the community with access to common knowledge and information. In Marshall Poe’s article, “The Hive,” Poe discusses the philosophy and actions behind the open encyclopedia website, Wikipedia. In Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk, “The Art of Asking,” she highlights the emotional experiences of communal trust based off her personal connections. Poe and Palmer claim similar statements that support from the online community fuels a project’s success rate, but negative remarks will be constant challenges to overcome. Poe and Palmer both provide examples that support the idea that an online community has the ability to change social norms and traditions.


Palmer’s Trust Foundation

By asking for assistance and support from others, people feel valuable and appreciated.

Palmer had no shame when asking for money, but her “profound encounters with people, especially lonely people who looked like they haven’t talked to anyone in weeks,” made her feel the first essence of trust in the community (Palmer 1:26).

Each positive short encounter gave her the sense of hope and security that allowed her to trust people so easily, which made her confidently decide to start a crowdfunding project. The observation Palmer had can be supporting evidence to school work. When a struggling student asks for help from another peer, the person helping feels appreciated and the struggling student finds clarity. In this case, all parties benefit in the end with knowledge and emotions.

Trustworthy Fans

Palmer and Poe’s works both introduce the ideas of trust and risk in their own projects which were supported by online communities.

Her label saw crowdfunding as an unpredictable risk, but Palmer saw it as a way of connecting to her supporters in a more intimate way (Palmer 11:24).

The reason why celebrities who give back to the community and value each of their fans are so successful is because people want to help them succeed as best they can in order to be a part of their journey. Poe’s article addressed the trust that Wales, the creator of Wikipedia, had developed between the online community members in order for his company to be more successful than the failed Nupedia. By trusting online communities, there resides an unpredictable risk of approval and acceptance.

The Bazaar vs. Cathedral Method


The bazaar model is the more effective model for online venues because there are less problems versus the cathedral method. People tend to gravitate towards websites where they can voice their own opinion rather than be censored or ignored by others. Granted there is a sense of group-policing to ensure safety and security on the website.

Given a larger range of users, the appearance of bugs and kinks in the systems will be detected and fixed immediately (Poe).

The cathedral method does not produce a successful outcome because if the time and effort dedicated to the project is not profited through measured success, then it is a failure. An example of the cathedral method is beginning a career starting from the bottom up in the music industry. Once Palmer’s band signed with a major label, they were still far from promised success. The process was too slow and the competition was too high, which explains why the music industry represents a cathedral. Palmer, unlike many other musicians decided to take a risk and revert back to asking people for money and support in exchange for free music.

Risk assessment creates an abundance of opportunities, both positive and negative.

Poe’s writing on the cathedral versus the bazaar software computer methods indirectly relate the music industry and economy which Palmer discussed.

Society has always had the ability to change what was deemed “acceptable,” but the internet provides endless opportunities to explore new ideas, if utilized. The internet has the ability to alter social norms and laws, but only under a general consensus.

“If the community changes its mind and decides that two plus two equals five, then two plus two does equal five. The community isn’t likely to do such an absurd or useless thing, but it has the ability” (Poe).


Society has the ability to upend conventional ideas about how operations are supposed to take place. The internet provides a connection that presents an unpredictable risk for people who are willing to trust that the community will support them and their projects. Poe and Palmer’s works demonstrate that the internet can transform traditional ideas into new ones if society supports and engages in opportunities. If enough individuals reach a consensus to change traditional operations, then open-mindedness will help shorten the disharmonic gap between old and new ideas.

Works Cited

Palmer, Amanda. “The Art of Asking.” TED. TED Conferences, Feb 2013. Web. 29 May 2016.

Poe, Marshall. “The Hive.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Monthly Group, 2016. Web. 29 May 2016.