Recently I noted Twitter hype punctured by a study that found Twitter users to be self-obsessed. Today Nicholas Carr points to New Scientest and a report that finds Wikipedians are generally “grumpy,” “disagreeable,” and “closed to new ideas.”

Forget altruism:

wikipedialogo.gif[T]he 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.”

The researchers also looked at gender differences among Wikipedians. They found that the women who contribute to the online encyclopedia exhibit unusually high levels of introversion. Women in particular, they suggest, “seem to use the Internet as a compensative tool” that allows them to “express themselves” in a way “they find difficult in the offline world.”

And what about those YouTubers?

The study is consistent with other research into the motivations underlying online social production. Last year, researchers at HP Labs undertook an extensive study of why people upload videos to YouTube. They found that contributors are primarily driven by a craving for attention. If the videos they upload aren’t clicked on, they tend to quickly exit the “community.” YouTubers view their contributions not as pieces of “a digital commons” but as “private goods” that are “paid for by attention.”

Carr says none of it is particularly surprising, but he seems to revel in the findings, suggesting that “Social production” might more accurately be termed “antisocial production.”

While I agree that techno-utopians are over the top, I’m not sure the point proves anything. The whole genius of the free market and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and even democracy itself is that they aggregate individual self-interest to some greater good.

If Wikipedia and YouTube and Twitter turn antisocial attention-craving into something more, I’m all for it. It’s not like those who choose the prosocial route of Hollywood or Big Business or Big Government have any altruism about them. Technological developments are always ushered in with such bluster. I rather enjoy it.

RELATED: You may have noticed that Wikipedia turns up in Google news results. Here’s why. And Wikipedia went down, too, in the rush of traffic on news of Michael Jackson’s death. His entry set the record as having the highest traffic in the eight-year history of the online encyclopedia.

LATER — Drawing on Wikipedia cost Google this one:

Oops. Bad, Google. Occasionally the service inserts direct answers to searches at the top of its results. It makes guesses at this, and in the case of michael jackson died, it’s making the wrong guess…Google’s showing that Michael Jackson died in 2007, at age 65. The problem? Google’s drawing on Wikipedia and picking the wrong Michael Jackson, the writer rather than the King Of Pop.

JOE WINDISH, Technology Editor
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Gregory Kohs
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

I wonder when all you hip Web 2.0 bloggers are going to realize that Wikipedia Review is a timely source of ideas and information regarding all things Wikipedia. For example, we were talking about this exact issue about six months ago: http://wikipediareview.com/index.php?showtopic=22219 …Well before Nicholas Carr or Joe Windish decided it was worthy of discussion.

laserDliquidator
Guest
laserDliquidator
7 years 2 months ago

I am sorry – but your response – in and of itself Violates the Wikipedia standards

For You thekohser – obviously have a conflict of interest.

While your haughtier also makes the very case in point.

Kerplah!

nihiltres
Guest
nihiltres
7 years 2 months ago
I’d heard of this study earlier, and it seems to be one of those studies that’s interesting in theory, but probably useless in practice. Seeing that people outside the Wikipedia community are interested in it, I decided to take a look. The first thing that jumps out at me is that the report does not describe how the participants were found—the closest thing to a hint is that “[t]he data were collected via online questionnaires”. This does not inspire confidence. From the news I’ve heard, it’s my understanding that it collected (mostly?) Israelis; this calls into question whether Israelis, Israeli… Read more »
Lynx
Guest
Lynx
7 years 2 months ago
These studies are a cruel trap, aren’t they? If the wikipedians dare to be just a tad pissed off that they’ve been called anti-social disagreeable introverts and express this, the response will inevitably be “See, it’s true, they’re disagreeable!”. Any online atheist knows this trap; atheists are called amoral, lost, depressive angry people on a given article. Comments from outraged atheists ensue and said comments are used to “prove” the point of the article itself. Note that I’ve no idea whether there is any merit in the study itself, but it sort of belongs in the “guilty if accused file”.… Read more »
cuvtixo
Guest
cuvtixo
7 years 2 months ago

I have to admit, as someone who found searching, editing and researching articles to be fun, my interactions with other Wikipedians has been disappointing. Before rising to the defense (oh no! we’re being attacked in a mediocre study!) I wish Wikipedians should take a good hard look at the organization and ask how they could change or moderate the influence of such negative factors. Surely they could do a better job at getting contributors to work together instead of starting edit wars, or working in isolation.

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