I sometimes find myself feeling that c.net is vaguely democratic, even though I've always known that it actually belongs to Paul. This is because Paul usually maintains a very low profile as site owner, and others of us often get involved in the sort of informal "self-policing" (through posts and through private messages) that would be associated with an unowned, unmoderated forum.
I think that most of the time what we have here could be fairly described as a functional anarchy
. I.e., no formal "government" and no formal rules, but through mutual respect and cooperation we get it to work.
And in spite of what Paul and I have both said, I don't think he functions as a dictator
, even though he has the authority of one. A "dictator" dictates
. He issues commands and forces others to obey then. Paul's role -- as he performs it here -- is more analogous to a god. (Note, folks, this is just an analogy. I'm not
suggesting we should worship
) I.e., we inhabit his little universe, but for the most part he just lets us go our own way without interference. Only when he thinks we've let things get seriously out of hand does he step in briefly to steer us back to a less dangerous course. Then he once again fades into the background, more of a legend than an obvious presence.