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Defines the ethical standards. These socially acceptable norms (standards) are used to evaluate peer’s behavior.

The ethos is determined by culture. It specifies norms and organizes relations between agents.

The ethos is part of the organizational structure. It must be considered at the same time with other structural elements such as culture, methodologies, infrastructure and organizational interface, because all these elements are interrelated and form a holistic system. In other words, it cannot be considered in abstraction of these other structural elements.

What are the socially acceptable norms within your OVN?

Distinction between ethics and moral

Ethics is concerned with external standards that are provided by institutions, groups, or culture to which an individual belongs. For example, lawyers, policemen, and doctors all have to follow an ethical code laid down by their profession, regardless of their own feelings or preferences. Ethics can also be considered a social system or a framework for acceptable behavior. Morals are also influenced by culture or society, but they are personal principles created and upheld by individuals. Open Source

Formalization of ethos


  • Making the OVN’s evolution less dependent on founders.
  • Constrain governance making within ethos boundaries.
  • add others...

We can follow the example of formalizing ethos in a real commons-based peer production (CBPP) environment, in the context of the Greens for Good venture within the Sensorica OVN. The results will be extrapolated to the entire Sensorica OVN and further to other CBPP initiatives.

We see ethos as the foundation on which governance is built, a framework that constrains rules making and decision making. As Sensorica is slowly but surely moving to blockchain infrastructures for its digital working environments, affiliates are starting to automate some of the governance through smart contracts. How much of the governance will be on chain (embedded) and how much of it will be left to off chain? Game theory and economic considerations will be in tension with ethical considerations. For example, some people will advocate for generating individual wealth, others for maximizing public good. A solid ethos foundation is the key to avoid spending too much energy fighting over conflictual natural tendencies. Ultimately, formalized ethos should become machine readable to interact with smart contracts. It should form the boundaries of embedded governance. Further in the future, codified or formal ethos should also guide AI, if used for adaptive governance, i.e AI-driven rules making. You might think that we’re not there yet, but the day of smart contracts approaches fast. In anticipation, we’re moving in that direction by codifying our ethos at least to make it more clear for humans, and we are linking it directly to our governance. Every rule that we make should refer to primitives of the ethos.

Ethos-related problems

When the actions of an organization depart from its ethos, members’ perception of legitimacy changes, which leads to psychological contract breach, organizational cynicism, and unethical behavior. Relations between leadership and organizational ethos are well established. In CBPP leadership becomes desincarneted, a distributed process, therefore the ethos should not reside in the founders or the initiators of a network. When founders become inactive the network can drift.


Openness (access to participation) and its corollary Transparency (access to information) are important characteristics of CBPP initiatives. The level of access to processes and information is specific to every initiative. It is caused by the change in the modular and granular setting which affects horizontal and vertical transparency between agents. This change greatly affects the working environment, new dimensions come to work giving individuals the ability to express themselves. The question becomes “how to use and structure these dimensions?” for that we need to work maybe from the weaknesses. In other words, what are the common weak points that CBPP platforms face, on an organization level, and how can we mend them while keeping the ethical foundation intact? We can work case by case and try to draw parallels between them.

Core values within peer production community

values - implicit and explicit Get inspired from Sensorica's original doc

...building from some original ideas there:

  • representation
  1. proactive transparency
  2. diverse perspective
  • receptiveness
  1. open innovation
  2. local basis, with permeable boundaries
  3. individual autonomy rather than institutions
  4. no conspiracy, collusion, back deals and channels
  • responsiveness
  1. agility, adaptability
  2. eliminate power relations, rely on value-based relations
  3. self-organization relying on a feedback system and voluntary subordination
  • recognition
  1. citation of adopted work
  2. accreditation for training
  3. reputation stakeholding
  • reification
  1. dogfood
  • replicability
  1. Encourage sharing
  2. Sustainability
  • reliability
  1. Ethics
  2. product is purpose
  3. visible patterns
  • reciprocation
  1. Fair reward system based on real contribution
  2. Foster collaboration rather than competition