The Tragedy of the Commons

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Full Title or Meme

A situation in which individual users, who have open access to a resource unhampered by shared social structures or formal rules that govern access and use of that resource.


  • Prior to an article The Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin[1] the term The Commons found little use in scholarly articles.
  • The Commons Dilemma as it is now known looks at the case where people interest in maximizing their own welfare, destroy the common good on which they all rely.
  • In the context of Identity Management the commons is the internet and all of the resource available on it that require some proof from the user before access is granted. It is also the collected contant of the internet what needs proof from the user as to the reliability of that content.


Aristotle states that “it is a fact of common observation that those who own common property, and share in its management, are far more at variance with one another than those who have property separately.” Private property unambiguously allocates resources, while collective ownership can lead to disputes over what each person deserves."


For more background see the wiki pages:

  1. Governance Framework
  2. Digital Governance


  1. Garrett Hardin The Tragedy of the Commons Science 162 (5364) 1968