The question of why do people contribute online is a particularly relevant topic in this new era of internet, called web 2.0. First of all, this phenomenon in interesting per se insofar as such a will to give, and to work without asking any compensation is somehow amazing. A lot is to be said of this new kind of utopia in which people share goods, knowledge and free time with people they won't ever meet. It is a fascinating social process of which many aspects are still left unstudied. But online contribution also enables the development of new businesses which are aiming at making profit out of the organization of this new possibility. A lot of new websites, also called wikis, are based on this community work, in order to provide net users the information they are looking for. Therefore the understanding of this free contribution is not only interesting in the field of psychology but also for many firms. Many companies are trying to discover how to develop this trend, and increase the number of contributors, as well as the participation of the existing contributors.
[...] This observation reinforces the previous conclusion: what drives Wikipedians to post articles and to be active members in the community is first of all the sense of altruism and collectivity. We can add that this is apparently a specific characteristic of knowledge-sharing communities. Limits of the survey By carrying out this research project we have realized that some aspects of our research should have been improved. Some of them have already been mentioned but we will try here to list these limits. [...]
[...] DRIVES: We really mean to study what individual psychological processes drive people to contribute online, as opposed to what could ATTRACT them to participate online (as for instance a good web design, advertisements, incentives, offers which belong to the field of marketing). The people we are interested in are those who felt the need, one day, because of specific psychological factors, to connect and contribute to an online community. To put it briefly, we will study the internal processes, and not the external ones. [...]
[...] Ultimately we see that what drives people to contribute online is first of all a general trend of the new generations. Concerning the gender of contributors, we observe that of them are men. It represents a large part of respondents. According to this result we can assert that there is a gender differentiation in the use of the Internet and particularly in the use of online communities. Our interpretation is that this result is linked to the specific characteristics of Wikipedia, as a sharing-knowledge community, because we observe that women are more active in other communities such as Doctissimo. [...]
[...] The collective effort model One of the first is Karau & William's (2001) “Collective effort model” which states that people contribute more into a collective work if they are in a group that they like and has similar interests and when they find that their contributions are unique, identifiable and essential to the work being done. Thus, Wikipedians may contribute because they discuss topics with people they like and because they think their contribution is identifiable and unique (old edits of articles are recorded in “history” for every page of the site). [...]
[...] What drives them to contribute is certainly linked with the specificity of this particular community (such as being a sharing-knowledge community). Finally, we can notice that Wikipedia contributors are really interested in improving the quality of Internet contents. The survey reveals that 81% of the first contributions were made in order to correct an article. But the more interesting result concerns the reactions of the Wikipedians to our survey. Some hours after we had posted the questionnaire on the forum we already had a lot of criticisms from users, but especially a lot of changes proposals in order to improve the questionnaire. [...]
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