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I'm very interested in crowd-sourcing and online innovation communities. Currently, I'm conducting research on what motivates users to continue sharing ideas, developing concepts, funding projects and collaboratively innovating in these crowd-sourcing communities. Some of these offer monetary rewards to their users, which are obvious reasons for participation, but other communities don't. They have to engage their users in other ways, putting emphasis on catering for peoples' intrinsic needs.

If you are engaged in one of these communities of Quirky, OpenIDEO and Kickstarter, please share your thoughts on what motivates people to participate, share ideas, fund projects, create and innovate in these online crowdsourcing platforms? Why are they successful, what makes them good communities? What is your opinion on rewarding in these online innovation communities (monetary and non-monetary)? What is lacking in these communites and how can maintainers facilitate these crowdsourcing platforms?

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closed as not constructive by dhmholley, JohnGB, JonW Dec 17 '12 at 12:12

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Thanks for editing. I'm new here so I don't quite know the platform yet. Your contribution is appreciated. –  inno_social Aug 9 '11 at 14:17

8 Answers 8

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Take a look at this fantastic animation about the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation:

enter image description here

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a great video, and an outstanding way to spend 10 minutes. Outstanding on several levels. –  Roger Attrill Aug 8 '11 at 16:38
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Wow! that was amazing! I loved it! Thank you! :) –  inno_social Aug 9 '11 at 14:13

Sometimes gaming the system can help. Like here at StackExchange!

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See also @Joel Spolskys talk about Stack Overflow at Google: youtube.com/watch?v=NWHfY_lvKIQ –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Aug 8 '11 at 16:23
    
Interesting! Thanks! –  inno_social Aug 9 '11 at 14:13

Jono Bacon, former community manager of the Ubuntu (Linux) operating system wrote a good e-book on managing communities called The Art of Community. It's good for the nuts and bolts on managing open source projects.

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Thanks for sharing! –  inno_social Aug 9 '11 at 14:20

Humans are ultimately pack animals. We crave interacting with a pack, helping others and receiving recognition for what we do. Although monetary rewards certainly work, when I think of the endless people hours that went into writing and editing Wikipedia for free, it seems obvious that money is not the only, or even the greatest motivating factor. Recognition within a community seems even more important.

We are also competitive animals. Winning, garnering more points even if they only measure reputation, and achieving public "badges" of achievement are highly effective game mechanisms.

Finally, do not under-estimate the power of existing networks. Any service that allows users to easily link and communicate with their existing communities such as Facebook, LinkedIn or here on StackExchange will get a huge initial boost in membership and activitities.

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+1 for pointing out what makes the rep system at stackexchange work (recognition and status). –  Marjan Venema Aug 9 '11 at 6:34
    
Thanks for your contribution! –  inno_social Aug 9 '11 at 14:23

I could answer for myself and I have to say for me it's the reputation system as others have mentioned. I have never been interested in creating content because the reward of posting something helpful to anonymous strangers such as yourselves :) never really appealed to me as I got nothing back in return or if I did, it was in the context of a comment in a post, which is a very fleeting reward that I couldn't really expand on. But I think the rewards of creating content make posting very justified on sites like Stackoverflow and Serverfault, on serverfault being a top user can give you access to an exclusive membership and being a top user on SO can label you a rockstar programmer that any company would be lucky to have on board. I think this long term and somewhat ambiguous and fanciful financial reward goal is better then a fleeting cash reward.

I heard a story recently on the radio about this topic, where children divided into three groups to perform a creative project over a period of weeks were given rewards to do so. In the first group, they were instructed that they would be receiving 100$ or so to complete the project simply on time. In the 2nd group, they were tasked to complete the project on time but the reward they would receive would be left a mystery until the after the project and the 3rd group was told they were competing for a prize with the other two groups and the group that would be receiving the prize would be the one that finished first. In multiple tests, The 2nd group would out-performed the other 2 groups, delivering more quality content on-time.

And I think this says a lot about the motivation and the desire to create content for communities.

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I know you think commneting is a fleeting reward, but thanks anyways :) –  inno_social Aug 9 '11 at 14:33

If you haven't already, you should read Clay Shirky's book on crowdsourcing, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. As everyone here is obviously a fan of Stack Exchange, it's worth noting that its creator, Jeff Atwood, often points to Shirky as a source of inspiration.

Wired recently published an article by Dan Ariely, How Online Companies Get You to Share More and Spend More, which examines some of the ways a few popular sites like Netflix and Zynga (Farmville) exploit cognitive biases to influence user behavior.

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Useful information, thanks! –  inno_social Sep 5 '11 at 5:23

Points! Scores, medals, badges, achievements, and more!

But seriously, take a leaf from stackexchange. The idea of rewarding users with moderation abilities is a great one. Forumites always crave moderation powers, but by the time they have them, they've spent enough time to use them wisely. That means the rewards only help plough more effort and good work into the community - a big win all round.

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Thanks for answering! :) –  inno_social Aug 9 '11 at 14:21

I know this question is about motivation, but I have an additional thought about motivation in the form of what really detracts and demotes from what we've been talking about in a reward system. And that is cheating. I just spent a better part of the day today on Stackoverflow, proud of myself for raising 50 or so rep points only to catch a user cheating at the end of the day and to achieve in 10 minutes triple to what I was able to achieve in about three months. The cheating was obvious. I'll be honest, I felt slightly deflated. But on Stack every user is able to police and determine if they suspect cheating is taking place. All reputation gained is time stamped and visible to any user. In this case, it was obvious that across multiple questions the user was recasting votes at exactly the same time. I anticipate that this user and any suspected users involved will be promptly eliminated from the system to keep this important trust in tact. And I think this is critically important to any online community worth it's salt.

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Hi, thanks for your comment. I was not aware that you could cheat in this community. Obviously, there is a gap in the reward system that could be improved. –  inno_social Aug 10 '11 at 10:35
    
well, you create multiple accounts designed for upvoting and it's pretty easy. –  Chamilyan Aug 10 '11 at 16:39

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