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Submissions/Can Social Awards Create Better Wikis?

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
Can Social Awards Create Better Wikis?
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
E-mail address
  • ashaw@cyber.law.harvard.edu
  • mako@mit.edu
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Barnstars and WikiLove are two examples of how Wikipedia, like many other free software and freeculture projects, uses non-monetary awards to motivate contributors. That said, academic research on the use of social incentives suggests that there may be important trade-offs or strategies involved in motivating work in this way that we do not fully understand. In this presentation, two sociologists studying online communities will present findings from three studies that give us insight into when and how non-monetary awards and incentives do and do not work.

First, we review data from recent field experiments on the online labor market Amazon Mechanical Turk. Even in the highly anonymous and non-collaborative environment of "Mturk", we see that worker behavior remains heavily motivated by concern about the opinions of peers. However, purely social incentives do not prove effective at eliciting high-quality contributions from Mturk workers.

Second, we look at Scratch: a large remixing community for free software programming projects created primarily by kids. In an effort to encourage more collaboration, Scratch administrators made changes that provided increased reputation to the authors of remixed projects. Although this led to more collaboration, it also resulted in a decrease in the quality of projects and the amount of time that creators spent on them.

Finally, we present analysis of barnstars - awards that editors give each other - on English Wikipedia. We show that barnstars can encourage editors to edit more and for longer periods of time, but that this effect depends on the degree to which the recipient chooses to use the award as a way to show off to other editors. Those who treat awards as status signals tend to experience a boost in contributions following the receipt of a barnstar, whereas those who do not tend to contribute less after getting an award.

We conclude with suggests about the implications for Wikimedia projects and community projects to drive participation like WikiLove.

WikiCulture and Community; Research, Analysis, and Education
Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
  • Aaron: Probably
  • Mako: Definitely!
Slides or further information (optional)
Special request as to time of presentations

Interested attendees

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  1. --Poupou l'quourouce (talk) 21:22, 18 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. the wub "?!"
  3. Steven (WMF) (talk)
  4. Very interesting. --Amakuha (talk) 05:57, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Tbayer (WMF) (talk) 07:53, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Pundit (talk) 13:18, 19 March 2012 (UTC) looking forward to it.[reply]
  7. Gamification FTW SarahStierch (talk) 22:08, 21 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  8. I agree with Sarah -- MyNameWasTaken (talk) 20:49, 16 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Shujenchang (talk) 16:26, 1 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  10. NaBUru38 (talk) 16:43, 7 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  11. DarKnight2012 (talk) 05:44, 10 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  12. vVvA2012 (talk) 07:44, 11 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Nataev (talk) 18:08, 12 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Your name here!