I wasn't aware of how racist the origins of the concept of "tragedy of the commons" was nor how completely and utterly wrong the concept was until recently when someone on here pointed it out to me.


@Alonealastalovedalongthe Those AREN'T the origins of the term, though. Hardin used the concept in his paper but the term originated with British economist William Forster Lloyd over a century earlier, who used a commons as a hypothetical rather than claiming it was historical.

The *concept* of commons problems is valid even if Hardin is wrong, because small groups eg. shepherds can use social rules and monitoring to ensure equal use, like roommates do. It's a problem with solutions.


@byron @Alonealastalovedalongthe William Forster Lloyd wrote about the commons but did not use the term "tragedy of the commons" (though Wikipedia falsely claims he did).

@mbrubeck @Alonealastalovedalongthe This is a bit circular.

Just checked Wikipedia--it doesn't claim the *term* originated with him (just the concept) and friendly reminder, if you do see an error on Wikipedia, you can benefit the information commons by correcting it :)

The thing is, even if Hardin did first use the word "tragedy," it's not how academics use it today. And while he was wrong about commons history, it *is* a class of problem, as anyone who's had 2+ roommates can attest.

@mbrubeck @Alonealastalovedalongthe But I'm not denying that there's a problem-- sometimes the term "tragedy of the commons" poorly represents the social dynamics of shared resources.

I think that fortunately, living in a world with Wikipedia, Linux and Twitter, we can see how a) often people protect & contribute to the commons, and b) mismanagement allows a few bad actors to poison or exploit the commons.

And what we see in history is how the commons needs social and legal protection.

@byron @Alonealastalovedalongthe That's because I corrected Wikipedia immediately after I wrote the above post. :)

@mbrubeck @Alonealastalovedalongthe Not sure if you're even joking but it's awesome either way.

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