<CPOV> The Wikipedia Cult

Jon Awbrey jawbrey at att.net
Sat Jun 5 05:12:15 CEST 2010


Seth's remarks about "pre-existing vulnerable people" ties in with
another one of those much-discussed topics at The Wikipedia Review.
Many observers have noticed the commonalities that connect 3 types
of "usual susceptibles":

(1) the predisposition to become addicted to online role-playing games,
(2) the psychological profile of the typical mark in a confidence game,
(3) the susceptibility to sudden belief system conversion, as in cults.

The engine that that drives the game forward in all of these cases is
an unbridled expectation buried in the psyche of the exploited person,
an irrational drive that the exploiter uses to rein and ride the mark.

Jon Awbrey

NT = Nathaniel Tkacz
SF = Seth Finkelstein

NT: if the term "cult" is too attractive to be left aside, i think it would be
>   useful to pose the question: how does wikipedia transform the notion of cult?
SF: Easy - it's the first truly successful *online* cult.
> This is where there really is something interesting going on -
> not unknown in the abstract, but new implementations are possible
> due to thescaling and efficiencies from electronic communications.
> For example, where physical cults may create alienation and isolation
> by trying to control the person's environment, Wikipedia can work
> by funneling in those who are *already* alienated and isolated in
> their lives.  Now, it's not that physical cults can't recruit.
> Of course they do.  But physical recruitment is a labor-intensive effort
> (getting someone to stand in an airport or on a streetcorner all day
> is difficult).  If you can "advertise", worldwide - suddenly new
> methods of getting pre-existing vulnerable people to come to *you*
> become cost-effective.


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