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Some of the questions you might ask as you search for a more narrow set of questions might include:
- What social norms apply and how are they manifest and enforced?
- Code is law - how do architectural elements contribute to membership, relationships, interactions and content?
- Freedom of expression - what topics are permitted, what is removed and who decides.
- What is the mix of emergent social structure versus hierarchical organization?
- Is there an explicit mapping on online and offline activity?
- What role does national law play?
- Is there an apparent logic to the community structure?
- Is membership static or dynamic?
- How are new entrants treated?
- What are the explicit and implicit policies for dealing with trolls and vandals?
- What motivations and incentives influence contributors?
- How are a site's superusers specially empowered, promoted, and regulated?
- How would you classify the governance system of the community? (oligarchy, dictatorship, democracy, ad-hocracy)
- Is there evidence of user circumventing the explicit purpose of the community, in an acceptable or unacceptable manner? (Unacceptable: spam. Acceptable: anything on 4chan. Grey-area: 'Griefing' in online games, sex (sexual content on flickr and sexual services on craigslist)