Evaluating Consent and Legitimacy Amongst Shifting Community Norms: An EVE Online Case Study

Suzor, Nicolas P. & Woodford, Darryl (2013) Evaluating consent and legitimacy amongst shifting community norms : an EVE Online case study. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 6(3), pp. 1-14.

16 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2013

See all articles by Nicolas Suzor

Nicolas Suzor

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Darryl Woodford

Queensland University of Technology

Date Written: September 24, 2013

Abstract

The legitimate resolution of disputes in online environments requires a complex understanding of the social norms of the community. The conventional legal approach to resolving disputes through literal interpretation of the contractual terms of service is highly problematic because it does not take into account potential conflict with community expectations. In this paper we examine the importance of consent to community governance and argue that a purely formal evaluation of consent is insufficient to legitimately resolve disputes. As online communities continue to grow in importance to the lives of their participants, the importance of resolving disputes legitimately, with reference to the consent of the community, will also continue to grow. Real consent, however, is difficult to identify. We present a case study of botting and real money trading in EVE Online that highlights the dynamic interaction of community norms and private governance processes. Through this case study, we argue that the major challenge facing regulators of online environments is that community norms are complex, contested, and continuously evolving. Developing legitimate regulatory frameworks then depends on the ability of regulators to create efficient and acceptable modes of dispute resolution that can take into account (and acceptably resolve) the tension between formal contractual rules and complex and conflicting community understandings of acceptable behaviour.

Keywords: dispute resolution, virtual worlds, regulation, consent

Suggested Citation

Suzor, Nicolas and Woodford, Darryl Paul, Evaluating Consent and Legitimacy Amongst Shifting Community Norms: An EVE Online Case Study (September 24, 2013). Suzor, Nicolas P. & Woodford, Darryl (2013) Evaluating consent and legitimacy amongst shifting community norms : an EVE Online case study. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 6(3), pp. 1-14., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2330108

Nicolas Suzor (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

GPO Box 2434
Brisbane, Queensland 4001
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://nic.suzor.net/

Darryl Paul Woodford

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000
Australia

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