QUOTE(thekohser @ Mon 26th March 2007, 11:37am)
To begin this discussion, I would like to throw out a few terms, try to offer some examples of organizations or structures that I think are defined by those terms, and then we can intelligently (or humorously) discuss our thoughts.
Is it a... (snip)
You forgot what WP really is, and that's Role-Playing Game!
It's really a new, and possibly unique, hybrid of RPG and "cult movement," with the encyclopedia itself as the object... Jimbo isn't so much a "personalist cult leader" as a sort of high priest, with upper-level admins as disciples, lower-level admins as acolytes, yada yada yada.
The important thing is that "the project" is paramount. But we should be beyond the definitional stage at this point, at least in my opinion...
I've been working on this issue for a few weeks now, and it was going to be one of the things I was going to start my new website with, but this is a basic outline of how Wikipedia is cult-like, according to Somey (that's me!
), and I would regard this as a rough draft.
Obviously I'm putting the "non-cultish aspects" at the bottom because I'm biased, but at least I'm trying to be somewhat fair. (For now.)Highly cultish aspects of WP:
Presumption of Morality (see here
, and especially here
Presumption of Primacy (COI
redefinition - as Wikipedian, your primary interest is WP, not yourself)
Identity confusion via anonymity/pseudonymity/sockpuppetry
Fundamental problem (vandalism, "trolling") requiring constant "defending against"
Reward and Retribution System (incl. heavy reliance on talismans and symbols (i.e., barnstars, etc.)
Love-Bombing (though less prevalent since you-know-who left)
Punitive banishment and allowance of redemption - classic psychological manipulation tactic
Demonization of enemies via irrational hyperbole as "stalkers" and "trolls"
Redefinition of Love and Hate (i.e., "WikiLove" vs. "Trolling")
Dismissal of mildly-critical outsiders as "clueless," "idiots," and "whiners"Marginally cultish aspects:
No significant barrier to entry (i.e., no required qualifications)
Charismatic leadership (though leader insists otherwise)
High-level decisions made by secretive cabals (or perception thereof)
Higher-purpose rhetoric surrounding project(s) that by their very nature can never be completed
Exploitation of psychological addiction (which itself is treated as "user's own problem")
Fully-internalized definitions of "quality" and "suitability" (similar to that of an artist's commune)Carrots:
No need for physical presence; physical attractiveness/repulsiveness a non-issue
Illusion of academic standing and "established" expertise
Adminship as designation of "trusted and respected" status
Adminship as a form of personal power over othersSticks:
Bans (and permanent records thereof)
Punitive article deletions and content removals (very rare, but does happen)
Punitive article forkings (also rare)
Refusal to delete unauthorized biographical articles as retaliation tactic (almost unheard of, except for one...)Non-cultish aspects:
No significant barrier to exit (at least for non-addicts)
No monetary demands (other than ongoing normal fundraising)
Unusual degree of openness at lower levels of decisionmaking process
No enforcement of ideological conformity (ideology treated as irrelevant to standing within community)
Far greater tolerance of dissent and betrayal than most cults (esp. if using narrow definition of "cult"), though this may be changing)
Conflicts among top levels of hierarchy ("wheel-warring") merely frowned upon in most cases
Encouragement of users to involve themselves in similar projects not controlled by WMF