Share knowledge often and widely

It is important for commoners to deliberate openly and share their individual knowledge often and widely. This helps the group identify useful incremental steps that will be flexible, adaptive and appropriate over the long term. This can occur through general meetings, digital platforms that enable asynchronous deliberations, or stigmergic explorations and emulation.

(As Wikipedia describes it, "stigmergy" is a consensus social network mechanism of indirect coordination, through the environment, between agents or actions. The principle is that the trace left in the environment by an action stimulates the performance of a next action, by the same or a different agent." html

The point is to share insights with the group easily and rapidly so that wise collective choices can be identified and adopted. This includes choices about how to stint resource use, allocate benefits, and monitor compliance with rules, and punish free-riders and transgressors.

The benefits of pooling knowledge and sifting it for incremental insights and group benefits has a remarkable parallel in the function of common law (in this case, NOT "commons law"). Common law is a type of law in which judges look to patterns of circumstances to identify appropriate rules, which over time converge into general precedents of common law that are generally deferred to. html Tradition, everyday experience and custom therefore become important sources of guidance in making "law."

While common law is ostensibly made by judges, judges themselves tended to understand their role as *discovering* common-law principles based on careful study of circumstantial patterns. The jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes famously explained in his 1881 essay, "The Common Law": html

"The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow-men, have had a good deal more to do than the syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed. The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics...."

For more on this idea as it plays out in online digital communities, see David Johnson's essay "The Life of the Law Online," First Monday vol. 11, no. 2 (February 2006). html