I'd like to describe in some detail an important confluence of events that occurred in the summer of 2005 where I was at a crossroads about the future of The Daedalus Project. That juncture produced many repercussions that are still unfolding today.
In spring of 2005, I accidentally ran across an article in the American Psychologist that referenced my online research. In a strange twist, I found both the draft and published versions because the APA somehow left both versions online and Google indexed both. Here is an excerpt from the draft version.
In one sense, the Internet has democratized data collection. Researchers do not need access to introductory psychology classes to recruit subjects and often do not need grant money to pay them. The Internet has opened research to those with fewer resources. One consequence is that faculty at small schools, independent scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates can all potentially contribute to psychological research. For example, an undergraduate psychology major, Nicholas Yee, published findings about the psychology of playing online multi-player games … However, a corollary of this open access is that those with minimal training and supervision can conduct and publish research, some of which might be of low quality. Yee's research results, for example, are available on his own website (www.nickyee.com) but have not been published in any peer-reviewed venue. Regardless of the quality of this research, his intense polling of a single population has polluted this data source for researchers who may be more qualified. In this sense, the tragedy of the commons now threatens psychological research.
Here is the same section (starting from the ellipsis) from the published version.
… However, a corollary of this open access is that those with minimal training and supervision can conduct and publish research, without benefiting from the quality control imposed by subject-pool supervisors, peer reviews, and funding agencies.
I am grateful to the editors and reviewers of the article at AP for heavily curbing the initially-worded criticisms in the final draft, but the damage had been done. I was incredibly hurt by those remarks. And that summer, the future of my online gaming research was at a crossroads. I began to seriously consider abandoning this line of work due to what I perceived to be a problematic reception of the emerging field in academia as well as the criticism directed specifically at my work.
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