May 7, 2006
On Topic

Some content or contribution is called OnTopic if it fits into an OnlineCommunity. This is typically part of the MissionStatement (or charta). Content that doesn't fit is called OffTopic.

Example: A wiki is created for Italian cooking. This means that political or religious discussions won't fit in and are therefore considered OffTopic. It depends on the community whether such contributions are immediately deleted or at a later time when the discussion is over.

OT creates a border line that can never be exact. It will always create a gray zone and conflicts. A Chinese recipe may in itself be OffTopic, but if there is a similarity or an interesting relationship to Italian cooking, it may very well be acceptable.

Note: real problems only emerge if the technical system (e. g. a usenet forum or baseline wiki) doesn't allow these deletions. This means that the system is permanently polluted be unwanted content which make the regular members of the community usually unhappy.