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Shaping the Age of User-Generated Content

  • Speaker: Amy Bruckman, Electronic Learning Communities (ELC) lab
  • Date: 2007-11-02
  • small diffs in usability change user experience dramatically
  • diffs in policy make interesting differences in user behavior
  • allow local groups to establish editorial guidelines
  • challenge: lack local enforcement policies (wide policies are used instead)
  • decentralization happens as a necessity of scale

Apple OSX server wiki

  • seems to be written from scratch, not based on any existing wiki engine
  • cool web interface - may be useful for lab notebook
  • interesting way to make new entries: click new entry, enter title box appears then the editor opens with title and content in separate edit boxes
  • calendar is built in but apparently doesn't work with google calendar

The developmental arc of massive virtual collaboration

  • Kevin Crowston & Isabelle Fagnot, Syracuse University School of Information Studies, 2007-04-13, File:070413 MIT presentation.pdf
  • Free/Libre/Open Source Software Research
  • Why do people contribute to open communities (massive virtual collaboration)?
    • Helpful to design attractive systems or to estimate likely success of projects
    • benefit > cost
      • cost: opportunity cost of time
      • benefit: job offers, ego gratification - in theory; self-determination, human capital - in practice
    • students are motivated differently from workers
    • motivation in Wikipedia (Kuznetsov 2006, Forte & Bruckman 2005) same as in OSS plus reciprocity (expectation of matching contributions)
      • need for other people's articles
      • anonymity affects peer recognition
  • individual roles in project: passive users -> active users -> co-developers -> core developers
  • stages of participation (early stages(1) -> sustained contribution(2) -> meta-contribution(3)):
    1. most people, regular users, attracted by visibility of the project (curiosity)
    2. received feedback, "helping behavior", social movement; groups become homogeneous over time (attraction -> selection -> attrition)
    3. very small number - the "long tail" (list of wikipedians by number of edits ( 54% once or twice, 25% >= 10x, 5% >= 100x); based on voluntaristic and helping nature, group identity; provide feedback to previous stages: enable more basic contributions
  • practical implications for encouraging contributions:
    • early stages (basic):
      • project is visible enough to attract attention
      • reduce barriers to entry
      • positive feedback -> exponential growth
    • sustained contributions:
      • meaningful tasks
      • shared values
      • sustained contributions increase visibility of project
    • meta contributions:
      • reward by more authority and visibility


  • important to provide feedback to users
  • one big channel to ask questions to get max exposure
  • find the right person to talk to (find collaborator)
  • talk to that person (communicate within project)
  • (from Sean Moore): I recently entered a protocol under my lab protocols section that I would like to also have listed on the mail protocols page under "proteins" and "Westerns". Is there a way to use key words so the protocol wil automatically be added to related groups?