The Social Psychological Effects of Feedback on the Production of Internet Information Pools
Cheshire, C., & J. Antin (2008). "The Social Psychological Effects of Feedback on the Production of Internet Information Pools". Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 13, 705-727.
A growing number of systems on the Internet create what we call information pools, or collections of online information goods for public, club or private consumption. Examples of information pools include collaborative editing websites (e.g. Wikipedia), peer-to-peer file sharing networks (e.g., Napster), multimedia contribution sites (e.g. YouTube), and amorphous collections of commentary (e.g., blogs). In this study, we specifically focus on information pools that create a public good. Following current theory and research, we argue that extremely low costs of contribution combined with very large networks of distribution facilitate the production of online information pools—despite an abundance of free-riding behavior. This paper presents results from a series of Internet field experiments that examine the effects of various feedback mechanisms on repeat contributions to an information pool. We demonstrate that the social psychological benefits from gratitude, historical reminders of past behavior, and ranking of one's contributions relative to those of others can significantly increase repeat contributions. In addition, the context in which individuals interact with the system may partially mitigate the positive effect of some types of feedback on contribution behavior.