Last week in Pacific Standard – a strong article was published called ‘The High Cost of Cynicism’. The report disclosed a short list of scholarly research which shows that cynics make less money in society than optimists because they are less likely to become involved in collaborative behavior. The tendency of optimists therefore are inherently more collaborative than cynics and ‘success is the proof’.
I find this to be an interesting parallel to the psychologies editing on Wikipedia. In my own personal editing experience with my encounters with agenda based editors showed a remarkable paranoia about my intentions on Wikipedia, surely an example of a ‘cynical’ personality, or collection of them. They were convinced I was a PR marketing troll sent in to disrupt Wikipedia in an escapade not unlike Monty Python’s Blasphemy sketch.
I personally would fall under the ‘Wikipedia idealist’ camp. Clearly I support online collaborative behavior. There are a number of Wikipedia editors who are idealists like me. I’ve encountered a number of them in the two wiki wars I was involved in – and because of our naturally collaborative personalities, we were able to win consensus.
I’m having fun with toying that perhaps the whole problem on Wikipedia could be looked at as the never ending battle between cynics and optimists – and if so, according to this new research, the Wikipedia idealists will ultimately win.