Motivating user contributions in online knowledge communities: Virtual rewards and reputation

Xiahua Wei, Wei Chen, Kevin Zhu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

User contribution determines the success of online knowledge communities. As user contributions are voluntary, many online communities failed due to declining user contributions. Hence, it becomes critical to understand and design mechanisms that are effective to motivate user contributions. This paper studies the effects of two mechanisms, virtual rewards and reputation, on the quantity and quality of user contributions in online community. We analyze user-level panel data from a representative knowledge sharing platform Stack Exchange.com, and investigate whether these two mechanisms improve the quantity and quality of user contributions. Surprisingly, we find that a user's reputation does not directly motivate contribution. It is the relative reputation (ranking) that serves as the motivation. This finding highlights the importance of peer effect and social comparison in the incentive design of open collaboration platforms. Our study provides implications for platform designers on how to motivate community participants and build sustainable online knowledge communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 48th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS 2015
EditorsTung X. Bui, Ralph H. Sprague
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Pages3760-3769
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781479973675
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event48th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS 2015 - Kauai, United States
Duration: Jan 5 2015Jan 8 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
Volume2015-March
ISSN (Print)1530-1605

Other

Other48th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityKauai
Period1/5/151/8/15

Keywords

  • Knowledge collaboration
  • Online community
  • Reputation
  • User contributions
  • Virtual rewards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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