Many of the challenges presented by the information infrastructure are not readily amenable to legislative and other hierarchical solutions. They require gentler, community-based measures as an adjunct to, and even an alternative for, formal regulatory action.
Communities in cyberspace need means of achieving cohesion and maintaining relationships, while avoiding unduly dysfunctional behaviour by community-members and outsiders. This paper's purpose is to investigate the means whereby such a 'cyberculture' can be brought about.
It commences by considering formal and semi-formal authority in cyberspace. It then discusses the processes and structures of electronic communities, including a series of mini-case studies of community behaviour in some recent contexts. Examples are provided of existing and emergent mechanisms whereby civilised behaviour can be encouraged. Some inadequacies in existing technologies are identified, and an approach suggested whereby future products, services, protocols and architectures can better support culture in cybserspace.