Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Essay # 2

"Usenet, a world wide distributed Internet discussion system"(Wikipedia.org, 2008) has become a tremendous part of communicators daily lifestyles. It allows people to communicate through the Internet using forums, blogs, message boards, and even others to speak about common interest. Unfortunately, users have to deal with many problems such as the false sense of identity, spammers and even free riders. For the past week I have been observing two motorcycle forums and will discuss my observations in the following essay.

The Usenet was introduced to us in 1979, allowing users to read and post public messages to each other regarding specific topics. Once being able to count on a single hand the amount of bulletin boards created by Usenet when it first came around. There are now countless amounts of bulletin boards on the Internet as a result. It is great! People can discuss common topics with each other from all around the world, getting all different kinds of opinions and ideas. Although and unfortunately along with the good comes bad and the Usenet shows some of both (Mostly good). An article written by Kollock and Smith (1996) primarily on the Usenet shows us problems we may run into. Just as Professor Stromer-Galley stated on our class blog spot (http://com430z.blogspot.com/) "Their essay focused on Usenet and the problem of cooperation in online environments where there are few rules and little by way of sanctioning to stop unwanted behavior"(Stromer-Galley, 2008).

For the past seven days I have been observing two motorcycle forums, just looking at the interactions between the people who posted and in some events the people who did not. The forums are for Kawasaki motorcycles but specifically for the Ninja 650r. I am currently an active member in the forums and check as well as make post on them daily. These forums are used to ask questions and in reply people will answer questions to the best of their ability. In addition, people sell and buy parts, accessories, and even bikes. We post pictures of our bikes, ourselves, and we also have a section for off topic postings where we can post anything we want about anything we want. So personally for me Usenet and these forums have become part of my daily life, checking them three sometimes four times a day.
On the second day of my observations I came to my first personal roadblock, the Free-Rider problem. "Free Riders are those who consume more than their fair share of a resource, or shoulder less than a fair share of the costs of its production" (Wikipedia.org, 2008). More or less this means that there are either people that contribute unrelated information, opinions, and flat out nonsense. Or they sit back letting everyone else contribute and end up benefiting from their work and efforts. I read about this in an article by Kollock and Smith where they explain in their article Managing the virtual commons that "Boundary and bandwidth restrictions would have a direct effect on each user of the group, by the Free Riders of the group" (Kollock and Smith, 2008, Pg. 116).

I saw on the forums that people were posting in wrong sections of the forums and even posting a question and not replying to the responses received from others. For example, on the forums is a section for "Off Topic Postings" in this section you can make threads and discuss what ever you would like. Even though this is available for people to post in I was still seeing political nonsense all over the other sections such as "Maintenance" and "For Sale". In fact, we had one person join the forums just to create spam. According to the online Wikipedia "Spamming is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages"(Wikipedia.org, 2008). This person signed up for the purpose promoting political propaganda. They posted numerous times in several different sections; made up pictures and quotes all over the place. Fortunately, a moderator caught them banned their IP address and deleted all of their post. Precautions have now been made on the forums to stop these spammers who are taking us away from the real purpose of being on these forums. I truly believe, that if we ignore these spammers and free riders, and do not act bothered by them, that they will slowly start to disappear (At least off our forums).

Brining me to my next major issue, which is Identity. Most of these forums are really an identity free environment. By identity free I mean no one knows who you really are (Age, gender, and so on.). People who join, create a nickname a password and that is it, they are in. In most cases their faces are never seen and their true identity is never revealed. Now this may not always be such a bad thing, but in the case of spammers and free riders it is. For example in our class, we all entered a private Internet Relay Chat (IRC). When joining the IRC each student was given a random nickname, so no one knew who was who. The class had a specific topic to stay on top of, but since their true identity’s were never revealed and could in reality not get in trouble, students immediately spammed the IRC. Talking about penises, drinking, and a ton more of what I thought was actually funny stuff. My point being is that none of them would have ever acted in this way if their nicknames were their first and last names. So as you can see these problems all really link together.

Now on my forums we do not get many spammers. But in the case of identity problems I see a whole new one. Mine being that suppose I was to ask a question about an engine problem I might be having. I post the question and get a response from a user. How do I know that this user is a credible source of information? In other words, how do I know that this person is not telling me the exact opposite of what I should do? They might in fact be telling me something that might make the problem even worse. So not only is Identity an issue for spammers it is also an issue for credibility.

Personally for the forums I have been observing, the problems with free riding, spamming, and Identity have not really been a huge factor. I have only been watching for a short period and have not seen too many bad encounters, but that might not be the case for others. In the end I believe that if we ignore the spammers and free riders they will eventually go away. They might even go away faster if we could solve the issue of identity. People would not commit crimes if they knew they would get caught. Same concept applies to spamming, people would not spam if they knew they would be identified.


Usenet. (2008, September 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:10, September 24, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Usenet&oldid=238615653

Kollock, P. & Smith, M. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities. In S. C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp.109-129). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.


Free rider problem. (2008, August 27). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:09, September 24, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Free_rider_problem&oldid=234653145

Spam (electronic). (2008, September 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:51, September 24, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Spam_(electronic)&oldid=240253542

Forums Observed



September 24th Reaction

For my Com 430z class we were assigned to read an article called "What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software" that was written by Tim O’Reilly. As O’Reilly states "This article is an attempt to clarify just what we mean by "Web 2.0". In the article they go over several different ways that web has changed and advanced from "Web 1.0". He talks about "The Web As Platform" specifically about Netscape being the old and Google being the new. Describing the differences between the two, giving reasons how and why Google has taken over.

In the article O’Reilly also talks about "Harnessing Collective Intelligence". In this section he talks specifically about blogging and how it has become popular. He describes a blog as "just a personal home page in diary format." From here he talks about many other topics including "Data Is The Next Intel Inside, End Of The Software Release Cycle, Lightweight Programming Models, Software Above The Level Of A Single Device, And Rich User Experiences". By the end of the article O’Reilly speaks about seven characteristics that companies with "Web 2.0" should have. He points out that these may not be all of them but these are the "core competencies of Web 2.0 companies."

I think that the "Web 2.0" and the new features are a great thing, Its great that we can blog and communicate with people. The bad thing is that there is always that person who has to ruin things for everyone. I am talking about the spammers on the web. People who are up to no good and to me are really just a pain in the rear end. Really leading to the identity problem. The spam because no one knows who they are. If there identity was known I highly doubt they would spam much.

O'Reilly, Tim. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html.

September 23rd Journal

Today there is much more action on the forums. There were pages and pages of post and new threads that I went through and it is still early in the afternoon. One was a post on how to fix a particular item on a motorcycle called the "Clutch". This whole time I am reading the directions on how to fix it and thinking to myself who is this person telling me how to do this. In this situation I really did not need the directions because I was not having the problem. But if it were me having the problem, how do I know if I can trust this person? Maybe this person is really telling me something that is extremely wrong and could blow my whole bike up. How do I know I can trust what he is saying?

Monday, September 22, 2008

September 22nd Journal

Surprisingly today there has not been much activity at all on the forums. A little upsetting to me actually because it has become a source of entertainment for me. In my past journal post I have been talking about the issue of the Free Rider problem.

Now I would like to bring up the issue of identity. Basically the point being is that you do not know who you are talking to on the other end of the computer. Most of the time we see some sort or nickname so there is some source of identity. But names can be misleading. For example, speed demon376 (Just a random name I made up) may be very miss leading. I do not know this persons gender or age or anything else about them. One might ask must we really know if they are male or female and even how old they are? Personally I feel I do not need to know. But to others it might. Especially when it comes to the topic of experience and riding motorcycles.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September 21st Journal

To start off today I would like to speak about another feature I never knew the Riderforums.com had. These journals have really made me see some very cool features the forums has. It is an option where you can view EVERY post you have ever made. I just thought this was cool and a very easy way to reference or look back on things if it is really necessary. Currently there are 42,035 threads, 447,310 post, and 28,162 members of the forum. I would assume that not all of these members are currently active because there would be many more post. I personally since I joined on 07-15-08 have made 46 post and started 7 threads. To me this really is not a lot since I log onto the forums a few times a day. Sometimes though I just like to sit back and read what other people have to say and not participate as much. So again, am I free riding? Good question!

As of right now the really big thread on both forums that I am overlooking is about the 2009 models. People are simply posting their opinions about the bike and its features. There is a mixed amount of emotions but mostly positive. People are actually wondering if the parts from the new one will fit the old ones so they can customize them even more. This thread which is only a month old has almost two thousand views and a couple hundred post.

Well I believe that is good for now until my next post tommorow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

September 17th Journal

Today I have looked over the forums a few times. I personally look over these forums; seeing questions that people may have. I ask myself, if these people are asking questions and I do not not answer their question, am I Free Ridding? If I find something they might be talking about useful and take something away from their discussion, without personally being involved in it then someone might consider this free ridding.
I was looking around the forums for things I might not have seen before. I stumbled around a thread called "Posting Policys". It says "This is a moderated forum, members have no right to post anything." (Jarelj,The Commander, 05-16-06)
Here is what the thread states:
"The posting policies on RiderForums.com are very simple. This is a moderated forum, members have no "right" to post anything. The text below is the site policy that is required to be accepted during user registration. If you registered prior to this text being on the registration page, please consider this your notice of the site policies. All members are required to adhere to this policy as a condition of membership. If you disagree with the policies and would like your account removed, please notify the Administrator. "By clicking the Agree button, you warrant that you will not post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-orientated, hateful, threatening, or otherwise violate of any laws. The owners and Moderators of RiderForums.com Community have the right to remove, edit, move or close any thread for any reason." The "For Sale/Trade" forum is intended as a resource for members to buy and sell personal merchandise from/to each other. Each item for sale must have a price specified for the item - NO auctioning terms are allowed. Commercial merchandise is strictly forbidden. Conditions which will result in merchandise being considered Commercial include, but are not limited to:1) Items are "brokered" on the board and sold on behalf of a third party business or individual2) Items are offered in a "taking orders" fashion and/or where duplicate items are offered3) Items are being offered by any entity other than an individual member of this board4) Items are offered in an auction fashion (Links to eBay auctions are acceptable, as long as the item is an individual personal item being sold through a personal eBay account (non-commercial))5) Items are not directly related to motorcycles. All Commercial items must be offered through our affiliated product site, www.MotoSpecialties.com, or by an Authorized Vendor in the RiderForums.com Shops.** NO SALES OF ANY KIND are allowed to be solicited or consummated using the site's Personal Messaging system. Sending an offer to any member via PM will result in your immediate removal from the site ** The Administrator reserves the right to ban the sale of any item for any reason, and to remove any existing posts if it is deemed that the post is in violation of the site policies. If this happens, the Administrator will notify the poster of the deletion.If you have any questions about what you are about to post, or about the site policies, please contact the Administrator and clear up any confusion prior to posting so there are no misunderstandings." (Jarelj,The Commander, 05-16-06)
Another thing that I came across was a pre registration to keep spammers away. They state as follows
"Since we are trying to keep the spammers away. Once you register, you will receive a welcome e-mail. At that point, e-mail me or Kim . She's a busy girl, and it might take a while. I check for them several times a day. I'm having some problems with my e-mail account through my website. It's saying my mailbox is full, it's not, so disregard that. Just send one, and let us know your screen name, that's all we need, not your password." (BRP, Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:35 am)
The point is that this site has administrators who try and keep order among the community and keeping everything flowing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September 16th Journal 1

For my essay number 2 I am observing 2 message forums for motorcycles. One of the forums is called Riderforums.com and the other is Ninja650.com. These forums are for Kawasaki motorcycles mainly specifically for the Ninja 650r. I am currently an active member in the forums and check as well as make post on them daily. These forums are used to ask questions that one may have about their motorcycle including problems they might be having. In reply people will answer questions as best as they can. They are also used for meeting up with people around and going for group rides. On the forums people sell and buy parts, accessories and even bikes. We post pictures of our bikes, and we also have a section for off topic postings where we can post anything we want about anything we want. These forums have become part of my daily life; checking them 3 sometimes 4 times a day.

September 17th Reaction

For September 17th 2008 the COM430Z class was required to read an article by Jason Whitaker called The Internet: The basics (Chapter 3).

Whitaker starts this chapter off by talking about "Text and hypertext". Stating "…without a standard protocol for transmitting documents using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), the Web would not exist, and without a standard format for creating pages, including the ability to link between them (hyperlinks), web pages would lose a great deal of their usability."(Whitaker, 58). Continuing on in the chapter he jumps into the world of Digital Imaging; explaining how we brought images to the Web and slightly how it works.

Whitaker goes on to tell us that "…broadcasting in the form of digital music and video is only just beginning to take off across the Internet."(Whitaker, 67). Again giving us background information of how we came about the Audio and Video world of the Web and how it works. Further into the chapter Whitaker talks about Web Production, HTML (HyperText Markup Language), Web Design, Elements of a Web Page, and even talking about Colors. He even gives us examples of what layouts would look like in HTML format (Whitaker, 76).

At one point in the chapter Whitaker says "We are now beginning to treat the image with the same suspicion once reserved for the printed word: just as we do not believe the words we read in the papers, so we no longer trust everything we see." (Whitaker, 62). This is an excellent observation that he made. I search the Internet for all types of things including pictures and even videos. Although not everything you see is real. Just as if you were talking to someone you can not trust everything you hear. These days people are using "Photoshop"(A graphics editing program) and other programs like it to edit images. My point being is that even though you might see a picture of something on the Internet, does not mean it is real. I honestly think that Whitaker did not talk about this enough.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September 10th Reaction

For September 10th 2008 the COM430Z class was required to read an article by Peter Kollock and March Smith called "Managing the Virtual Commons: Cooperation and Conflict in Computer Communities".

Kollock and Smith tell us that they apply the logic of social dilemmas to a portion of cyberspace which they call the Usenet which was developed in 1981. Describing the Usenet as a "collection of several thousand discussion groups that is distributed and maintained in a decentralized fashion." Basically a large communication system that is looked over by computers. Starting out in the chapter telling us about Usenet and the major social problems the members take on. Then exploring how the problems might be solved by studying cases of Ostrom (1990) who researched many types of communities to see what contributed to its success and even if be their failure.

Their main focus in the chapter was the free-rider problem and the ability of a group to overcome it. The free-rider problem is basically referring to a situation where some individuals in a population either consume more than their fair share of a common resource, or pay less than their fair share of the cost of a common resource. Or in other words one who benefits from a collective activity without participating in it. Kollock and Smith talk about two opposing arguments the first being that researchers say "coercion by a strong external authority is necessary in order to insure cooperation" and the second "that an external authority may not be necessary and may even make the situation worse."

Cooperation is not always the thing to do and even find. There will always be that one person who does not want to cooperate. In this case, of the free-rider problem, there will always be those people who do not participate at all. I ask myself, why? Honestly I do not know. Maybe it is because they would rather kick back and observe what is going on, keeping their opinion, thoughts and ideas to themselves. Is this such a bad thing though, if we have enough people participation and cooperating, then maybe it is not so bad if some do not. The real problem would be if not enough people are cooperating because then we have nothing and like Kollock and Smith implied, we all suffer. I believe it is natural for most human beings, to take the easy way out, always looking for the fastest easiest ways to do things. Letting others do the work for them thinking that they are sparing themselves but in the end these people and ones whom are free-riding will only hurt themselves.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Essay #1

Currently in the 21st century, one would think they could answer what seems to be a simple question such as, "What is the Internet?" Initially my reaction would be "Are you kidding me?" Although now thinking about it, I ask myself the question, suddenly realizing it is not so easy to answer. According to the online Wikipedia, the "Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that interchange data by packet switching using the standardized Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP). It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private and public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope that are linked by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless connections, and other technologies."

Often confused with the Internet is known as the World Wide Web, the two are used frequently without realizing they are different. The Internet and the World Wide Web are not the same thing. The Internet is a global data communications system. It is a hardware and software infrastructure that provides connectivity from computer to computer. According to the online Wikipedia, the Web is one of the services communicated from the Internet. It is a collection of interconnected documents and other resources such as electronic mail, online chat, file transfers and sharing linked by hyperlinks and URLs.

Explaining that the Internet interchanges data by packet switching using the standardized Internet Protocol Suite, may be some what confusing. So packet switching simply put is referring to protocols in which messages are broken up into small packets before they are sent. Each packet is transmitted individually across the net and the packets may even follow different routes to the destination. Therefor, each packet has header information in which enable to route the packet to its destination. At the destination the packets are reassembled into the original message. To prevent unpredictably long delays and ensure that the network has a reliably fast transit time, a maximum length is allowed for each packet. It is for this reason that a message submitted to the transport layer might first have to be divided by the transport protocol entity into a number of smaller packet units before transmission. In the end they will be reassembled into a single message at the destination. This also usually prevents the message from being blocked in anyway because there are an unlimited amount of routes it can take. Today the switches are getting faster and faster, with optical switches providing large advances in speed with practically zero switching time. Packets are moving from one network to another at almost the speed of light.

What is known as the standardized Internet Protocol Suite is what makes packet switching possible. It defines a set of rules to enable computers to communicate over a network. The transmission control protocol (TCP) and the Internet protocol (IP).were the first two protocols in the suite to be developed. TCP/IP provides end-to-end connectivity specifying how data should be formatted, addressed, shipped, routed and delivered to the right destination. The specification defines protocols for different types of communication between computers and provides a framework for more detailed standards. Basically with out the standardized protocol the networks would not all speak the same language, thus making it near impossible to understand each other and transmit with each other.

According to the Wikipedia, Internet Protocol Suite, like many protocol suites, may be viewed as a set of layers. Each layer solves a set of problems involving the transmission of data, and provides a well-defined service to the upper layer protocols based on using services from some lower layers. Upper layers are logically closer to the user and deal with more abstract data, relying on lower layer protocols to translate data into forms that can eventually be physically transmitted.

With these and many other features of the Internet the world would be a totally different place. The World Wide Web is a huge set of inter-linked documents, images and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. Personally, the Internet is one of my main ways of communication. I use it all the time to email my friends, family and professors. I communicate with people I do not even know through forums and blogs, discussing things we have in common or asking and answering questions about anything. It is great for lazy people who would rather shop, sell and advertise online for anything imaginable, including online grocery shopping which my mother loves to do. It is great for sharing pictures and videos, even live video conferencing with someone very close to you who might be half way around the world.

The Web is like a huge encyclopedia of information, in some ways it's even better. The volume of information you'll find on the Web is amazing. For every topic that you've ever wondered about, there's bound to be someone who's written a Web page about it. The Web offers many different perspectives on a single topic. One of the great things about the Web is that it puts information into your hands that you might otherwise have to pay for or find out by less convenient means. It can simply be used for fun, playing interactive games and even multi-players with other people online. Anything you could ever imagine can be done as a result of the Internet.


Internet. (2008, September 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:06, September 4, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Internet&oldid=235792055