Community Management Wiki


This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.
Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done

An often-observed pattern in user groups and community initiatives is that there is lots of good-will and ideas, which get discussed, but after all the discussion, nothing happens. The pros and cons are hashed out, and something approaching consensus occurs, and yet no action results. This is a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth - no-one takes responsibility for making things happen.


FIXME: Needs an illustrative example.


One way to mitigate this phenomenon is to have someone who is responsible for delegating and tracking tasks (and ideally nothing else). At some point in the discussion, the move from abstract "we should do this..." to concrete "Can you take on this task and make sure it happens?" either provides a better chance that something will be accomplished, or indicates clearly to all concerned that while there is an interest in having something done, if no-one steps up to the plate, it ain't gonna happen.

Related patterns[]

The polar opposite of this task might well be Cookie Licking - which occurs when someone takes on more responsibility than they can handle, which results in tasks dropping through the cracks.

This pattern is often accompanied by excessive bikeshedding and often precedes water cooler behaviour.