What follows is a list of social motivators, action items and design alternatives for online communities based on social sciences research. They are organized by the type of design alternative that might activate each motivator. These are drawn from Bob Kraut and Paul Resnick's book:
Kraut, R. E. & Resnick, P. Encouraging contribution to online communities. In Kraut, R. E. & Resnick, P. (eds.) Building successful online communities: Evidence-based social design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (In press). [PDF]
Selection, sorting, highlighting
1. Making the list of needed contributions easily visible increases the likelihood that the community will provide them.
2. Easy to use tools for finding and tracking work that needs to be done will increase the amount that gets done.
3. Asking people to perform tasks that interest them and they are able to perform will increase contributions compared to asking people at random.
1. Compared to broadcasting requirements for contribution to all community members, asking specific people to make contributions increases the likelihood that they will.
2. Simple requests will lead to more compliance than lengthy and complex ones for decisions about which members do not care strongly.
3. Messages stressing the benefits of contribution will have a larger effect on people who care about the domain of the contribution.
4. Fear campaigns lead members to increase contributions in response to persuasive appeals (e.g., our community will loose executive sponsorship if certain objectives are not met).
5. Fear campaigns cause people to evaluate the quality of persuasive appeals.
6. Requests from high-status people in the community lead to more contribution than anonymous requests or requests from low-status members.
7. People are more likely to comply with requests the more they like the requester.
8. Because the following factors influence liking, people will be more likely to comply with requests if they come from others who are similar to them, are attractive, are of high status, or have other noticeable socially desirable characteristics.
9. People are more likely to comply with a request when they see that other people have also complied.
10. Providing members with specific and highly challenging goals will increase their contributions.
11. Coupling goals with specific deadlines leads to increases in contribution as the deadlines approach.
12. People will be more willing to contribute in an online group when they think that they are unique and others in the group cannot make contributions similar to theirs.
13. People will be more willing to contribute in an online community if they see that others are making complementary or contingent contributions than if they see others making substitute contributions.
Feedback and rewards
1. Goals have larger effects when people receive frequent feedback about their performance with respect to the goals.
2. Performance feedback, especially positive feedback, can enhance motivation to perform tasks.
3. Performance feedback enhances motivation only when it is judged as sincere.
4. Site designs that encourage systematic, quantitative feedback generate more verbal feedback as well.
5. Rewards, whether in the form of status, privileges, or material benefits, will motivate contributions.
6. Comparative performance feedback can enhance motivation, as long as high- performance is viewed as desirable and potentially obtainable.
7. Performance feedback, and especially comparative performance feedback, can create a game-like atmosphere that may have undesirable consequences in some communities.
8. With task-contingent rewards for small, discrete tasks, larger rewards will motivate people to take on tasks, but will not motivate higher effort on accepted tasks.
9. Rewards cause some people to "game the system", undertaking "counterfeit actions" that will be rewarded but which do not actually contribute to the community.
10. Rewards that are task-contingent but not performance-contingent will lead to gaming by performing the tasks with low effort.
11. Performance-contingent rewards can be set in a way that prevents gaming; this is true even if performance evaluation is imperfect, so long as it is somewhat informative.
12. Status and privileges are less likely to lead people to game the system than are tangible rewards, among people who are not invested in a community.
13. Non-transparent eligibility criteria and unpredictable schedules will lead to less “gaming of the system” than predictable rewards.
14. Adding a task-contingent reward (for doing or finishing a task, regardless of performance) to an already interesting task will cause people to be less interested in the task and to perform it less often. The effect will be larger for monetary rewards than for prizes, status rewards, and charitable donations.
15. Small tangible rewards are likely to reduce contributions for intrinsically interesting tasks while larger rewards will increase contributions.
Content, Tasks, and Activities
1. Combining contribution with social contact with other contributors will cause members to contribute more.
2. Creating immersive experiences with clear goals, feedback and challenge that exercise peoples’ skills to the limits but still leave them in control causes the experiences to be intrinsically interesting.
1. People will be more willing to contribute in an online group when the group is small rather than large.
2. People will be more willing to contribute in an online group the more that they are committed to the group.