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.

View at publisher (open access)


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.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

130 since deposited on 17 Jul 2013
31 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 61410
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: dispute resolution, virtual worlds, regulation, consent
ISSN: 1941-8477
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Law not elsewhere classified (180199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Communication Studies (200101)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Please consult the authors
Deposited On: 17 Jul 2013 21:38
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2013 23:28

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page