Motivating People to Participate


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Motivations for Participation on the Social Web

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Motivating People to Participate

  1. 1. Motivations for Participation Trebor Scholz Department of Media Study Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 1
  2. 2. What motivates people to engage on the Social Web? 2
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  4. 4. Some Americans giving up friends, sex for internet: survey One in five Americans say they're having less sex to spend more time on the internet, text messaging and similar technologies, a new survey suggests. Even higher ratios of U.S. adults are choosing digital technology over television and friends, while the majority say they could not go a week without being connected to the internet, according to the survey released Wednesday. 4
  5. 5. Yossi Vardi, one of the original founders of ICQ, the first instant messaging service, posits four factors that inspire folks to participate: self expression communication sharing collaboration 5
  6. 6. Typologies of Participation Questions: Which different types (and intensities) of participation can you identify? 6
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  9. 9. Activities 9
  10. 10. read (92.4%) browse -- photos (82.1%) watch -- video (74.5%) comment (67.7%) friend (59.7%) share (58.6%) write -- blog entries (58.2%) subscribe (56.3%) bookmark (47.5%) link (46.8%) tag (46.0%) 07 z 20 listen -- music (45.3%) l Scho collaborate (40.3%) ebor forward (33.1%) y Tr favorite (25.9%) In the survey users e Surv poke (25.5%) described their most moderate (13.7%) frequent activities remix (9.5%) on the Social Web 10
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  12. 12. Participation 12
  13. 13. Participation on the Social Web archiving memory transparency of rules identification and power dynamics individual vs. network value format of contributions tone, passion, humor, personality low threshold engagement trust time scale type of content relaxation “I give because I am group belonging social capital great” (agonistic giving) job emotional support sharing the experience ` contributing to access to information of one’s time & place the greater good software architecture feedback intellectual property mobile computing pleasure of creation translation reciprocity hormones friendship challenge embodied and networked sociality signal-to-noise ratio gender permanency and privacy of content Trebor Scholz 2007 13
  14. 14. People group around social objects such as photos or videos, or, around topics/interests like cars, mental health, technology (e.g., coding), self-help, business, gaming, creating avatars, activist interests or politics in general, parenting, faith, feminism, owning pets, sports (soccer, hockey). Other sites focus on dating services, career-oriented social networking, or quot;life sharing.quot; Social sites tap into the most particular desires. 14
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  16. 16. Survey 16
  17. 17. Survey In order to find analyze current trends with more authority, the author conducted a survey and 297 people responded (80.8% finishing rate). This is a large enough number of respondents to speak to trends in participatory behavior. 56.3% (143) of respondents were male and 42.55 female 42.5% (108). 1.2 % (3) stated their gender as quot;other.quot; The largest number of contributors to this survey was 29 years old (16 users) but all ages from 15- over 60 years old were represented. 17
  18. 18. Other motivations, which were added by people who took the survey: quot;It enables one to live internationally and still maintain a sense of friendship, when there aren't many people you know in your new country.quot; quot;collaboration with co-workersquot; quot;It makes watching TV less boringquot; quot;With a little luck I can trace friends I had lost contact with.quot; quot;It helped me find places to stay while travelingquot; quot;It's also an escape from stress or to avoid doing work.quot; quot;Promote shows and get in touch with old friends from school or work.quot; quot;They keep me in touch with the 'movers and shakers' in topics that interest me - social / work use of mobile technologies, mobile working and global workplace trends. Social platforms keep me in touch with young members of my family in Scotland (nieces in their early 20s; I am cool old auntie, Scottish and live in England).quot; 18
  19. 19. quot;Participants in peer production communities have many different motivations for jumping in, from fun and altruism to achieving something that is of direct value to them. Though egalitarianism is the general rule, most peer networks have an underlying structure, where some people have more authority and influence than others. But the basic rules of operation are about as different from corporate command- and-control hierarchy as the latter was from the feudal crafts shop of the pre-industrial economy.quot; Wikinomics, p25 19
  20. 20. Participants added activities like informing others, organizing, researching, chatting, debating, creating art, and developing community. 20
  21. 21. It is significant that remixing was listed as least frequent activity on the Social Web. First, remixing requires a certain degree of skill in the use of social tools, and second, the importance of the remix may simply be overestimated due to the centrality of the creative commons debates led by Lawrence Lessig and many others. It is possible, but not substantiated by this study, that most artists create their work alone with the use of the remix. 21
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  23. 23. Survey: Reasons for participation 23
  24. 24. access to information possibility to find entertainment have fun with the content of others hang out with friends archive memories (videos, photos, texts) relaxation finding new friends group belonging Most participants in the survey said that establishing a reputation, finding emotional support, getting dates, and getting jobs, and experimenting with identity were not important to them in their use of the Social Web. 24
  25. 25. Will people will visit more often if they see photos of their peers? Kapoor, Nishikant, Joseph Konstan, & Loren Terveen. (2005). How Peer Photos Influence Member Participation in Online Communities. Proceedings of ACM CHI 2005, April 2–7, 2005, Portland, Oregon, USA. 25
  26. 26. Other reasons for participation included: quot;The number of my (real-world) friends who are using them.quot; quot;The quality of the content, comments, video etc. (knowledgeable, first-hand experience especially)quot; “Ease of navigationquot; quot;The amount I am allowed to create myself and keep as mine. The amount of cooperation found on the site. The real life talk about the site and number of real life local people in my real life social sphere using the site, affects the degree to which I use it.quot; 26
  27. 27. quot;Openness, honesty, integrity, communication, good (customer) service if applicablequot; quot;The amount of control I have over my own content, my ability (along with the ability of others) to shape either the content or structure of the site, and the amount of privacy/protection from corporate and governmental agents.quot; quot;Ease of use, lack of abusive users, bandwidthquot; 27
  28. 28. quot;Number of users the site admin's must be responsive to user needs and directives.quot; quot;1.) Importing and exporting my stuff to and from other services. In other words, the ease with which this service allows me to switch to another service, but ALSO the ease with which it allows me to import my data from other services. 2.) Ease of locating my contacts from other networks in this service (importing contacts).quot; quot;How it lets a busy yet lazy person track her friends without needing to do anything.quot; 28
  29. 29. quot;I really use the sites as a way to keep up with others and as a result of peer pressure. i tend to provide false information for the login and keep much of the rest impersonal.quot; quot;A cost/benefit analysis of their social utility - what i gain from participation versus what i lose. anonymity is often lost, public/ private is breached, my demographic data becomes available to benefit corporations, marketers, and the government. Sometimes I participate because of a social imperative - i am excluded from a conversation if I don't participate. so I gain access to a community and a conversation, and thus social standing or power to affect a conversation or community. and i gain cultural and technological literacy. in my case, i also gain business standingquot; 29
  30. 30. When using a site, respondents cared most of all about the amount of spam that they receive, followed the quality of the user interface and the topical orientation of the site and the transparency of the ownership and privacy rules of the site. Also the tone, passion, and personality of the posts on the site mattered tremendously. Users cared quot;somewhatquot; about the ability to share videos and photos with others and the values (or ethics) of the company who offers the service, the number of ads on the site and the ease with which this service allows them to switch to another service. Most respondents in this survey did not care about the social class or gender of others on a given social site. 30
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  32. 32. Motivations 32
  33. 33. Social Voyerism 33
  34. 34. -Emotional support (The Social Web sites allows people to connect quickly and easily. Instant Messaging applications like Skype, which of course also functions as voiceover IP telephony, are free and allow for disembodied emotional support and quot;life sharing.quot; Many self-help forums attest to this fact. 34
  35. 35. Being where many other people are. 35
  36. 36. quot;Ambient intimacy is about being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible. Flickr lets me see what friends are eating for lunch, how they’ve redecorated their bedroom, their latest haircut. Twitter tells me when they’re hungry, what technology is currently frustrating them, who they’re having drinks with tonight.quot; 36
  37. 37. Care “There are people, some close friends, some not so close, that I (for whatever reason) think of as family in the sense that I care about their well-being and want them to be happy and successful. If I think they are benefiting from something I do, like tagging, then I will damn well take the trouble.” 37
  38. 38. Student responses Join because it’s popular, spark one’s creativity (post art), find like- minded people, deepen relationship with somebody whom you met f2f, indirect ways of communicating, promote music and create fan community, innocent spying (on your long-distance boyfriend), identity-representation, publicize existing relationships, public display of connection, find out stuff about people before meeting them, social stigma attached to not having a site, sampling music before buying it, organize people, fantasy sports (FB fantasy hockey), staying in touch with family (surveillance on kids), being entertained, escape the real world as you used to in cinema, mentally and emotionally soothing (addictive), self-realization through self-expression (there are other geeks like you), it becomes a routine/ a ritual, showing off (being annoying as asset), show off your personality, narcissism, archiving and distributing artwork, promoting business-- finding work (FB marketplace), helps with life- transitions(high school to college) 38
  39. 39. People spend time trying to impress their peers with their profile, their site design, etc 39
  40. 40. -Hormones (Finding dates, managing to impress the right person is made easier through social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace but also ). -Privacy of content The survey that follows this passage, outlines how crucial privacy is for users of the Social Web. They are especially concerned about the use of the large amount data that they provide corporations that own social platforms. 40
  41. 41. Motivations for Migrants 41
  42. 42. -Content (are people interested in the topics that are brought up) -Social capital/increased recognition (this is a critical motivation for students on Facebook, for example) 42
  43. 43. The Promise of Free Service 43
  44. 44. -Access to information (i.e., access to knowledge is complex and takes on various forms-- from encyclopedic information to code, recipes, and health information) One of the prime motivations for online participation is access to knowledge. From collaborative research to the collection of web references and citations on scholarly mailing lists to technological forums, the enhancement of knowledge is a crucial reason for participation in the Social Web. 44
  45. 45. -Memory (Memory relates to permanence. Photo and video sharing sites allowing users to quot;outsourcequot; their memories to the World Wide Web.) -Relaxation/entertainment (e.g. sites like but also makes the way people access television and music more social) -Time (How long it takes from entering of the URL to quot;participation- readinessquot; determines how many people will contribute. This threshold became increasingly lower over the past years.) 45
  46. 46. -Instrumental aid (finding job) People’s daily interaction is increasingly facilitated through techno-social channels. Sociable web media allow individuals to develop oceans of “weak ties.” Such high level of low intensity connectivity characterizes the contemporary managerial personality. “Weak ties” are essential for independent “creatives” whose livelihood depends on such extensive yet loose social networks. 46
  47. 47. -Permanence Permanence of content availability keeps people from contributing because they do not want a particular message that they sent to a bulletin board to still be available online 20 years later. On the other hand, the longevity of mailing list archives, for example, is important as they document conversational research. Lasting access to list essays and posts is therefore an enticing factor for those who seek platforms that offer continuous availability. The permanence of a medium has important privacy implications. Upon delivery, an ephemeral message is gone, except in the participants’ memory. It cannot be subsequently conveyed to others except by creating a new message telling about it. A persistent message, however, can be conveyed to others who were not privy to the original conversation. 47
  48. 48. -Reciprocity (peer-to-peer networks) In quot;The Economies of Online Cooperation: Gifts and Public Goods in Cyberspacequot; Peter Kollock writes: quot;A person is motivated to contribute valuable information to the group in the expectation that one will receive useful help and information in return. Indeed, there is evidence that active participants in online communities get more responses faster to questions than unknown participants (Kollock 178).quot; 48
  49. 49. -Distributed credibility & trust (Many people prefer to remain anonymous online out of privacy concerns. The more personal data are requested from a site, the more users may be inclined not to contribute. An overarching identity that would allow users to only fill out one profile and then retain a steady identity across sites is the goal of projects like OpenID.) 49
  50. 50. -gender -scale -feedback -philosophy of website 50
  51. 51. Becoming a Speaker 51
  52. 52. -Sense of belonging to a group People, in general, are fairly social beings and it is motivating to many people to receive direct responses to their contributions. Most online communities enable this by allowing people to reply back to contributions (i.e. many Blogs allow comments from readers, one can reply back to forum posts, etc). People, in general, are fairly social beings and it is motivating to many people to receive direct responses to their contributions. Most online communities enable this by allowing people to reply back to contributions (i.e. many Blogs allow comments from readers, one can reply back to forum posts, etc). People build self-esteem through contributions and to garner recognition for contributing; and to develop new skills and opportunities for ego building and self- actualization. 52
  53. 53. re-insertion of historical figures as friends (Cage, Derrida) 53
  54. 54. -Sharing the experiences of one's time and place Like Banefield, New York University professor Russel Hardin brings up also the example of participation in demonstrations. He describes them as being driven by the desire to be part of history; propelled by the desire “to share the experiences of [one's] time and place.” Harding fo- cuses on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, at a time when people took to the streets to participate in a social movement that they believed in. They participated for moral reasons but also because the civil rights movement was a hugely formative series of events that they wanted to be a part of. While these examples refer to embodied participation, disembodied contribution may also be driven, by the intensity of the engagement. In his Collective Action Russell Hardin writes: That we are social creatures is not only a philosophical thesis; it is also a commonsense realization. We become more than we are by reading Shakespeare and the Greeks, by listening to Bach, Beethoven, and Bartok-- and by participating in certain events and movements, for example, by going to war or refusing to go to war. Whether it is called moral or self-interested, the urge to participate is a fundamental motivation. The joy of experiencing oneself as a creator spurs self-confidence and leads to more participation. Once a participant decides to contribute, what might be an appropriate format of contribution? The format of contribution to a mailing list, for example, determines if others will follow and engage themselves. Writing for the Web calls for the presented information to be concise and broken up into short paragraphs. 54
  55. 55. -Format, rhythm, length, tone style, passion, humor, personality of contributions, pleasure of content creation/ This kind of writing is distinctly different from writing for print. In this context it is also important to mention mobile computing devices. It is still difficult to read or write lengthy en- tries on mobile devices because screens are too small, and the low bandwidth on these devices makes meaningful contributions complicated. Apart from urgency, also the format of posts (e.g. length) plays a role. Very lengthy texts posted on a mailing list may discourage some people from contributing. Judith Donath in her definition of sociable media writes: The speed at which a medium can convey a message affects the type of information that is exchanged and the communication style. As communication frequency increases, mes- sages become more informal and intimate. This is true even within the same medium – rapidly exchanged papers notes are more informal than a letter with weeks of travel to its destination. Before contributing to a forum, many people consider if their contribution will remain relatively private (i.e. only read by subscribers to a particular mailing list) or if it will be a per- manent, archived record in a publicly accessible archive. These factors related to permanency and privacy also need to be considered. 55
  56. 56. -Format, rhythm, length, tone style, passion, humor, personality of contributions, pleasure of content creation Technological formats like chat rooms and Instant Messaging motivate completely different writing styles because of the frequency and instantaneity of such synchronous sociable media. An engaging, conversational, and revealing writing style with a sense of humor, and intimate tone that shows a humble, passionate author is central when it comes to writing for the Web. It is obvious also that there needs to be an urgency to the topic of discussion. (After the events of September 11, 2001 more than 35% of Americans who were part of online communities posted to them, for example.) 56
  57. 57. -Possibility of mobile participation (The ease of use also includes the ability to upload to websites from mobile phone cameras. This is made increasingly easier by social media giants like Myspace and Facebook). 57
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  59. 59. Tradeoff 59
  60. 60. Pleasure of creation Intrusion into the personal They gain friendships Market research Ads, unwanted content Share their life experience Commodification of intimacy (dating sites) Archive their memories Spam They are getting jobs Breach of social contract Find dates and contribute to Society of control the greater good helps people to find books and music Social enjoyment but may erode valuable processes by which people discover new authors or artists. Constraints and accidents of everyday life are the basis for enjoyable Maximum convenience and meaningful activities, even if they are less efficient. quot;The debate keeps getting framed as if the only true alternative were to opt out of media altogether and live in the woods, eating acorns and lizards and reading only books published on recycled paper by small alternative pressesquot; (Jenkins, p 248-9). 60
  61. 61. - end - please direct comments, additions, etc to 61
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