Gender, Representativeness and Reputation in StackOverflow

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at pearwood.info
Tue Jul 24 10:33:02 CEST 2012


On Mon, 23 Jul 2012 22:56:42 -0700, rusi wrote:

>> On Mon, 23 Jul 2012 22:51:07 -0400, Devin Jeanpierre wrote:
>> > When people boycott a product, it isn't because not having the
>> > product is better than having the product. That's clearly untrue:
>> > despite the reasons for the boycott, the product has some value. They
>> > boycott it because by doing so, they can get something better than
>> > <product with badness> or <nothing> -- they can get <product without
>> > badness>. (At least, in theory :)
>>
>>
> On Jul 24, 10:34 am, Steven D'Aprano <steve
> +comp.lang.pyt... at pearwood.info> wrote:
>> I don't think that's why people boycott products. I think that boycotts
>> are a clear example of people making a moral decision to punish
>> somebody for doing wrong, even at the cost to themselves. Sometimes
>> significant costs, as in missing out altogether.
>>
>>
> I dont see so much difference -- maybe you missed the 'badness' in
> Devin's quote?

No, I saw it. The difference is that I read Devin as suggesting that 
people are motivated by a sense of "I want to get Product X, without the 
badness", which implies that the primary driving force is "get Product 
X", rather than "avoid badness". In a sense, Devin suggests that boycotts 
are a form of bargaining: give us a better product by reducing the 
badness, and we'll buy. (Whether Devin *intended* this implication is 
another question.)

I'm suggesting that the primary motivation is "this company is doing bad, 
I wish to punish them by withholding my purchases, even to my own 
detriment". I'm suggesting that, at least to some degree, people are 
*not* bargaining for better products when they engage in a boycott. They 
are punishing a cheater, and to some degree they may never quite forgive 
and forget.

I can't speak for others, but 30(?) years later, I still sometimes 
consciously forgo buying Nestle products because of their unethical 
promotion of expensive baby formula at the expense of breast-feeding in 
Africa. As time goes by, this urge becomes weaker, but it never quite 
goes away.

A more relevant example might be the way many people in the FOSS 
community do not and will not forgive Microsoft for their bad behaviour 
in the past, even now that they have mostly, and reluctantly, accepted 
that they have to coexist with Linux.

Or this: http://xkcd.com/1057/

Of course, people are complex and their motivations can be a tangled web 
of contradictory and complimentary urges. But "punish the cheater" is an 
extremely powerful motivation in human beings.


-- 
Steven



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