"It is curious why group policy-making for things such as social contracts and civility standards in virtual communities is so problematic.
There appears to be a 3-layered model, that we call 'Communitas'. Successful online communities, that we are familiar with, are structured according to this model. The foundation layer of 'Communitas' is Communications Technology. This is the 'soil' out of which everything else emerges. Only about 5% of the population will muster the technical — and at times arcane — skills to create and develop the underlying Communications Technology.
The second layer of 'Communitas' is Community Building. This is the social and leadership layer where 90% of the participants spend their time getting to know their colleagues, identifying and understanding goals, missions, and issues of concern to the community, and building trust. If Communications Technology is the 'soil', Community Building is the 'garden'.
Once Community Building has reached a level where there is a substantial level of participation, interaction, and trust, a remarkable third layer emerges. This layer can be referred to as 'Communion'. 'Communion' is a profoundly transformational relation of People-to-People and People-to-Ideas. These are life-changing ideas and interpersonal relationships, which fundamentally redirect individuals to focus their time, energy and talent in ways that promote personal and professional growth, clarification of individual and community values, and adoption of meaningful personal and group goals. Communion is the 'fruit' of the 'garden' of Community Building, growing on the 'soil' of Communications Technology." (http://knol.google.com/k/barry-kort/experiences-with-civility-and-the-role/3iyoslgwsp412/25)
Barry Kort on Gravitas as opposite of Communitas:
"The new model is called Gravitas. It begins with Ex-Communication Technology. This is the affordance of conferencing systems like Motet or Web-X that enable the site manager or forum host to block or restrict participants from accessing some or all of the site, or from contributing to some or all of the forums. The next layer is called Community Unraveling. This is the process by which the Fabric of Society disintegrates as the Social Glue dries out and becomes friable and brittle. The bottom layer is called Alienation and Disgust, and is complete when Trust is shattered and Apprehensiveness and Risk are maximized." (http://www.musenet.org/utnebury/gravitas.html)