It's like social loafing, but the opposite

| Wednesday, December 14, 2011
What was supposed to be a three-month project is being done in about three weeks. So we're working our asses off. All the other groups think we're crazy. Maybe we are, and were, even before this.

The final bit of the project is a paper. A mere 20 pages, a trivial length for 5 people, and perhaps too short for the scope of the topic. But that's what we have to work with. The main idea is that there is a paper to write, with grades going to 5 people.

Some people would be social loafers. They'd know that 4 other people are there to do it. If I don't edit, they will. If I don't write enough, they will. If I disperse profanity throughout the paper, they'll catch it. To some extent this is true, that I am allowing them to pick up some slack, because that's what teams are for, distributing the load, playing to strengths.

But I cannot just sit back and let them do it all. I know it won't be as good as it could be. So here I am now thinking that the paper is good enough. I'd turn it in for myself. But it isn't a grade for 1 person; it's for 5 people. Any problem is multiplied. Maybe I'd accept an imperfect grade, but I cannot impose that on 4 other people. That's the wrong thing to do.

So I end up inversely socially loafing, doing more because of others, rather than less.

It reminds me a bit of raiding. When I solo I don't mind the deaths because it's entirely my own risk, my own cost, my own failure. But in a raid, if I screw up, I screw up for 9 or 24 other people. Or 39 once upon a time. That's not a good feeling. Early on, when everyone is making mistakes and raids aren't quite so difficult, it's manageable. But eventually it gets to me, it stresses me and angers me, that my mistake is hurting others, and I don't want to be that person.

But what is my benefit from working twice as hard at the raiding and preparation? It's a terrible scenario where the cost of not preparing is massive, hurting me a little and added up over everyone, a lot. But the extra work to fail less? Minor benefit to me, and also to the raid, because then someone else does it wrong and I cannot fix it for them. It's like Tobold would say now and then, with a raid testing the weakest member, rather than the strongest, or the average.

I like tests of strongest or of average. In the former, one weak member may cause no harm at all. In the latter, one weak member may have little overall negative impact. Not none, but little enough that it can be compensated for. But when the weakest member decides the outcome, then it's a race to remove the lowest, and then there is a new lowest, and in theory you remove all the low ones and have a core of high ones and then everything is good, but that's a chaotic process, a disruptive process, a particularly unfun process when everyone is under attack.

So that's that. And I really hate doing citations. I wish I could just paste in the source link. Here, professor, you want my sources, here is the agency budget and newspaper articles investigating it. Alas, I cannot do that.

In unrelated news, I think I'm going to hold off on buying Skyrim, as I've just started playing Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl again, with the excellent Oblivion Lost mod, and this time I plan to explore a bit more. Last time I had played a bit, hated the UI, and eventually rushed off because I wanted to see Chernobyl after I watched one too many documentaries on it. I'm looking forward to giving the Zone a better look. I'm not looking forward to the next leg of my journey, which is going to the underground X-18 laboratory, which is filled with mutants and dead babies in jars. It's a terrifying place. I might have gone there sooner, but during the day I don't have time and there is no way I am going there at night, not if I plan to sleep. It's a remarkably good game, which you should definitely buy. If you saw my review many months back I'd been less kind to it, but I think the mod, which is free and easy to install, improves it a great deal. Despite already having a reputation as a frightening and unforgiving world, the mod makes it even harsher. Because what we really needed were mind-controlling hostile mutants taking over the few safe areas. I take that back, two. There were two safe areas. Unless the military got aggressive, then only one. Or with the mod, none.

WoW has definitely moved away from world toward better gameplay. Stalker manages to have solid gameplay but without sacrificing the world. And what a world it is.

Students, good luck with finals. Parents, good luck with offspring with finals. Teachers, good luck with students with finals. Everyone else, you better be buying the rest of us some great Christmas gifts.


Syl said...

How I hated group assignments back at uni. :) I fondly remember a big discussion with a prof about why he should give us individual grades (for each chapter), rather than a group grade. oh teh memories.

A fine analogy about raiding. adds into another point of Tobold's too that raid difficulty shouldn't be too high, lest you don't end up having no room for any slack / errors / bringing the average, fun player along. funny enough, I always felt that vanilla 40mans gave us more leeway in that respect, despite the fact that many claim raids used to be harder (but then, we have sufficiently dispelled that one).

Good luck with your paper and not ruining your group's grade. think of it as a blogpost! :D

Syl said...

...lest you don't end up?
do I just detect myself in double negation?

Damn these old-fashioned expressions!

Klepsacovic said...

I think if I wrote it as a blogpost I'd definitely ruin their grades! It's a very formal academic paper with all sorts of integrating class concepts. I can do that, but it always feels awkward to have to pause my words to jam in a citation. The worst part for me is looking up sources of ideas. I'm used to being able to just toss off a name, without needing to say exactly where it was written.

Kring said...

> WoW has definitely moved away from world toward
> better gameplay.

The winter veil "boss" is an outdoor boos. You have to fly up to the arathi highlands, and kill him with people from your server if you like to get your 24 JP and a chance for the pet.

- There is no cross realm interaction.
- There is no LFD.
- There is no teleportation.
- There is no instant queue for tanks, they have to fly up, too.

At the least it shows that they recognized a problem.

Klepsacovic said...

QUIET! They might hear you and add those to the update.

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