Is Too Much Collaboration a Bad Thing?

January 28th, 2008 | Categories: design, networks, off topic, social media, strategy, trends, wikis

Collaboration, wikis, and crowdsourcing are at the heart of web 2.0. The whole basis for social media is dependent upon these concepts. Value is achieved when numerous parties converge and aggregate knowledge. But a fundamental flaw still exists.

In all cases, collaboration on a document or article creates clutter. Unnecessary additions are all too familiar. Furthermore, what one person might find important, another may find completely irrelevant, in which case they may delete it. The point is that all these changes and modifications create inconsistency. Many voices do equate to more knowledge, but a lack of unity. For this very reason, often a single expert author can provide a more compelling, informative piece.

Ego is a huge issue at hand. Everyone wants a say. Everyone wants to feel like they’ve contributed. Ironically, the best way to participate may simply be to not participate at all.

I came across this very problem during my studies at university. Group projects create this dynamic. Everyone is assigned a section and all sections are amalgamated at the end. The problems with this approach are numerous. Most notably, different individuals possess different writing styles. Moreover, some points may be skipped over or reintroduced due to a lack of communication.

Google Docs and Wikipedia are two poignant (perhaps obvious) examples that come to mind.

My stance on this topic is relatively neutral. I acknowledge both the advantages and disadvantages to collaboration. I do, however, lean cautiously toward a positive take on the situation. Nevertheless, I understand that there is no perfect solution. I would wager that most agree that the benefits outweigh the downfalls, but that’s not the point. Education and awareness need to take center stage. Most are ignorant and oblivious that disadvantages even exist with respect to Wikipedia and other such systems. Acceptance isn’t the hard part. Putting your ego aside and overcoming denial is.

What is your take on wikis and collaboration? Do you think social media is the greatest thing since sliced bread or do you think it is fundamentally flawed?


  1. robojiannis Says:

    It depends on the utilization of social media. It is difficult to say that collaborative projects have only disadvantages or only advantages.
    The outcome of the project actually relies on:
    1. the aggregation of the information.
    2. the diversity of the constituting group.
    3. their independence and
    4. the organization of the group.

    I had a series of 4-5 posts on the subject. Tell me what you think if you’re interested (the subject is also part of my MA Thesis).

  2. Mark Wiseman Says:

    Dont mix up collaboration and compromise. Collaboration needs to be managed with effective leadership, shared principles and common goals. It’s not about throwing all balls in the air and accepting where they fall.

  3. » Blog Archive » Social media flawed - is teveel community slecht? Says:

    […] Tot slot las ik op mapping the web nog een post met de vraag of “too much collaboration” misschien een slecht teken is. Of dat zo is ben ik niet uit, maar deze vraag kun je natuurlijk direct vertalen naar communities. Heeft het zin om voor iedere dienst, object, initiatief, interesse of wissewasje een community te faciliteren? Persoonlijk denk ik niet. […]

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