Bad faith begets bad faith

Last updated on Jun 23, 2010

Posted on Jun 23, 2010

Does it help to design your online media to take care of the worst in the world?  Should one assume that, if given a chance, people will behave badly or at their worst?  And only governance can take them out of it?

Well not so, if this dialog is to be believed in the “Wired” magazine.

Pink: Yes, often these outside motivators can give us less of what we want and more of what we don’t want. Think about that study of Israeli day care centers, which we both write about. When day care centers fined parents for being late to pick up their kids, the result was that more parents ended up coming late. People no longer felt a social obligation to behave well.
Shirky: If you assume bad faith from the average participant, you’ll probably get it. In social media, the design principle that has worked remarkably well is to treat good faith as the normal case and to regard defections from that as essentially a special case to be solved.

(Thanks to Anirban Mukherjee for citing this article on his Google buzz).

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