As Foul a Pessimist as Ever Bit a Tiger

A guest post by Aadisht Khanna

Greetings, gentle readers. Arnab has a final viva coming up. He can’t post, so he’s given you guys a special treat- a guest post by me.

Today, we will talk about pessimism.

Until about a year ago, Nub and me were editors at a community blog and content site called Timepasstown (Version 3). TpT3 died, but fear not, TpT4 is ‘coming soon’.

TpT3 was wonderful. There was enlightened discussion on things like Maggi Noodles. There were Monday Conspiracies, which I haven’t written since TpT went down. There were music reviews. And there were comments to all of these.

Alas, there were also pessimists.

Now, I’m a libertarian. Not a fervent one- I’m not fervent about anything (except perhaps Preity Zinta)- but a libertarian nonetheless. If people want to be pessimistic, I don’t put obstacles in their way. They can go ahead and do what they like. All the same, if you’re an editor of a community website and you’re interested in keeping people coming there, pessimists are trouble. No, wait. They’re Trouble.

The problem that springs to mind is that they depress the other users. They spew gloom and doom over the front page and inner pages, and even in the comments. Pretty soon, the happier users get put off. No more TimepassTown, they say. It’ll just sour our digestion and cramp our happy disposition. Let’s head to Freshlimesoda instead. And soon your active users dwindle, and your

This isn’t the whole problem.

You might think that if they scare off the optimists it’s not all that bad. After all, the pessimists will still be left. Sure, your community website might tend towards the dark and despondent, but at least the community will be there.

That’s where you’re wrong. You might have a community for a month, but then it’ll fall apart. This happens for two reasons.

The first is that the pessimistic poster was pessimistic because he- or she- was unlucky in love. This leads him- or her- to undergo a creative spurt and write mordant poetry, cynical stories and soul searching articles. This spurt lasts for three months and then subsides.

So, after three months, the pessimistic poster is a spent force. You can’t rely on him- or her- to keep writing for your website. The feast of reason and flow of soul is effectively over.

The other reason is that the pessimistic poster commits suicide, and is then totally useless to your website, not to mention the rest of the world.

What I’m getting at, then, is- if you want your blog to be successful, or to be the life and soul of the party at the new, bigger-and-better TpT4 (which will be planned, designed, implemented and launched ‘Any Day Now’), be an optimist. Or a pragmatist. A spiritualist, even- people will lap up the otherworldy stuff. But never a pessimist. It kills readership.

On that note, goodbye.

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About the author:

Arnab Nandi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University. You can read more about him here.


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