Research:Effects of Informal Rewards and WikiLove

Duration:  2012-03 – 2012-07

This page documents a planned research project.
Information may be incomplete and change before the project starts.

Key Personnel edit

  • Michael Restivo, State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • Arnout van de Rijt, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Project Summary edit

The purpose of this proposed research is to assess how WikiLove affects contributions. This research is independent of the WMF's WikiLove experiment and is not affiliated with the WMF. We focus on positive interactions and feedback. Results from the Wikipedia Editors study (2011) suggest positive interactions and feedback have a beneficial effect on the community. The goal of our research is to independently investigate the phenomenon of WikiLove in a systematic way.

Methods edit

Although we are familiar with the WikiLove extension, for this project we will manually replicate the features of WikiLove that we intend to use. We intend to give informal awards - like a kitten, cookie, or barnstar - to a small selection of users drawn from the w:Special:ActiveUsers page. We are particularly interested in editors who have performed a great deal of work (perhaps the top 10% of users by edit volume), yet whose efforts go unrewarded. We are still trying to determine precisely what WikiLove message we will give to these users, and in this regard we are looking to the research proposal by Kraut et al. for some guidelines and ideas.

Wikimedia Policies, Ethics, and Human Subjects Protection edit

Our research proposal has been approved by our university's IRB. The risk to participants is minimal. Our intervention consists only of a small posting on the user's talk page, and all messages will be appropriate and in the style and spirit of how WikiLove is currently used.

We consider it a strength of our research design that this research is taking place in a naturalistic setting. Therefore, we will not announce to editors receiving feedback from us that they are participants, otherwise it would offset its authenticity.

We intend to make the results of our research available in an open access journal. We would be happy to share our results here as well.

Benefits for the Wikimedia community edit

Prior research - from both the WMF and independent researchers - has shown that positive interactions and feedback have a beneficial effect on the community. Individual users also are appreciative of recognition and thanks for their tireless efforts. In general, having a better understanding of the effects of informal rewards is something that can benefit Wikipedia and other organizations. Our goal is to help understand the benefits of WikiLove.

Funding edit

We have not received, nor do we seek, any external funding for our research.

Contacts edit

Please contact me on the discussion page or by email:

 - Mike Restivo (talk) 18:33, 12 March 2012 (UTC)