from Nick Carr‘s ‘Roughtype’ blog (June 27, 2009) …
The sour Wikipedian
Forget altruism. Misanthropy and egotism are the fuel of online social production. That’s the conclusion suggested by a new study of the character traits of the contributors to Wikipedia. A team of Israeli research psychologists gave personality tests to 69 Wikipedians and 70 non-Wikipedians. They discovered that, as New Scientist puts it, Wikipedians are generally “grumpy,” “disagreeable,” and “closed to new ideas.”
In their report on the results of the study, the scholars paint a picture of Wikipedians as social maladapts who “feel more comfortable expressing themselves on the net than they do off-line” and who score poorly on measures of “agreeableness and openness.” Noting that the findings seem in conflict with public perceptions, the researchers suggest that “the prosocial behavior apparent in Wikipedia is primarily connected to egocentric motives … which are not associated with high levels of agreeableness.”
Read the rest here (if you dare!)
I have to say: some of the stuff that’s been thrown at me on discussion forums makes me think “high levels of disagreeableness” is a vast understatement! Funny how much of it is anonymous — posted by what I call cardboard cutouts and glove puppets.
That said, I have also been pretty scathing myself online about what I see as crooked or dodgy behaviour in the offline world. I’m sure I’ve offended some good decent people by highlighting some (in my view) poor, inconsistent or short-sighted decision-making, or someone ‘mishandling’ a conflict of interest. But I don’t ‘do’ anonymous. My name is right there. Continue reading →