Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why we want to participate?

Summary of articles

Participation or content-driven of members was claimed by most of the authors in this week reading as the soul of online communities (OCs). It is impossible for the OCs to alive long lasting without active participation and highly motivated members (Ling, Beenen, Ludford, Wang, Chang, Li, Cosley, Frankowski, Terveen, Rashid, Resnick, & Kraut, 2005). Member’s participation in the OCs has some definite characteristics that similar to the motivation on join the real-life or face-to-face (f2f) communities (Ridings & Gefen, 2004). Thus, I can see that all the authors (Ridings & Gefen, 2004; Tedjamulia, Dean, Olsen, & Albercht, 2005; Ling, et al., 2005; Java, Finin, Song & Tseng, 2007; and Schrock, 2009) are coming in two agreements. First, motivation on joining f2f community can be used to analyze motivation on joining OCs. Second, researching members’ participation and goals of joining OCs will help to explain why there is OCs that going on top of popularity and the others become unpopular.

While I am read these five articles, I mapped the information into table. From this table, we can see that the articles are taken from 2004 until 2007. Every article focused on different OCs. Riding and Gefen (2004) looked at a bulletin board. Tedjamulia et al. (2005) analyzed several OCs like Slashdot, Opinion, and Coolsolutions. Online movie recommender,MoviLens was discussed by Ling et al (2005). Twitter became the focused interest of Java et al (2007). Last but not least, Schrock (2009) took a look at specifically on MySpace. Psychology theories were used frequently as model framework (Ridings & Gefen, 2004; Tedjamulia, et al, 2005; Ling et al., 2005; and Schrock, 2009). Besides that, there are also several theories that come from others field, such as Computer mediated communication(CMC) [Ridings & Gefen, 2004] and Social Network Theory (Java et al., 2007). Because of the used of different framework and methodology, there are various motivations on participation identified in these researchers and only one that similar, which is sharing/exchanging information (Ridings & Gefen, 2004; Tedjamulia, et al. (2005), Java, et al (2007); and Schrock, 2009).

Analyzing motivation to participation using my personal OCs

According to Ridings and Gefen (2004), the most popular reason for people to join a bulletin board is to exchanging information. They also emphasized that for communities on healthiness and occupational discussion, having social supports is the second most frequent reason. Differently, for OCs in hobbies and recreational, the second reason is searching for friendship. In addition, they contended that when people seeking information and social support on the OC, they are not necessary looking for friendship. However, friendship on the OC can help on searching information and social support. I can see these participants’ motivations are more likely the same like WiZiQ, the online teaching and learning forum where I become a member. WiZiQ allows me to teach and learn online, uploads, and stores my files online. In this forum, currently, I have 61 learners contact requests, 17 followers, 7 direct contacts, 40 learners access my resources, 22 members I am following, and one teacher I am learning from. Every time I conduct a class, I always encourage the class participants to give me feedback. I rarely got these feedbacks. While what happened was, frequently the learners send me email to ask for additional resources, request me to conduct a class with a specific topic, asking for advices, and ask permission to use my resources as their references. Therefore, I can conclude that the participants motivation to join WiZiQ is the same like the motivation to join bulletin board discussion on health and occupational, in Ridings and Gefen (2004) research. The participants tend to seek information and find a social support rather than to find friendships.

In contrast, I am totally not agree with what conclude in Schrock (2009) paper that said “…females had on average more computer anxiety, less computer self-efficacy, more extroversion and more ability to self-disclose information.” This result probably can be concluded for the research participants, or data that Schrock (2009) obtained. However, from my experience assisting online courses, having students discussion on NING and WALL, I tend to look at there is no significant different between male and female on those aspects mentioned in Schrock paper. Conversely, I assume that there are different between the educational system in Asia and America on sharping those elements. This assumption made based on my observation when look at the collaboration process between students in Hawaii with students from Japan. Students in Hawaii were taking initiative and leadership roles more compare to students from Japan when they joined on collaborative works. In my opinion, based on interactivity communication on the class discussion forum, the Japanese students tend to have less computer self-efficacy compare to students from Hawaii, while, in fact, their performances are almost the same.

Observation Results

I choose Amazon Kindle discussion forum as an OC to observe. At the time, this information was retrieved (February 12, 2011 – 1:11 PM), there 1,023 discussions topic with 4 current announcements. All of these 4 current announcements have more than 50 posts. I choose Announcement about “Kindle Book Lending Now available”, because this is the top discussion, in which has 252 new posts since the last time I visited the site, last week. I reached 62 posted from February 7, 2011 until February 12, 2011 (1:27 HST). The majority of posts were replies to other comments, 45 out of 62 posts. In total, 21 posts rated. As many as 15 posts rated as adds to the discussion and 6 posts rated as not add to the discussion. From prior post, the administrator will hide the posts which were considered not adds to the discussion. As a replacement, the administrator will show this statement, “Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion?” If you want to see the post you can click on the link which said, “Show post anyway.” From the discussion that I retrieved, there are no posts hide by the administrator. There was one post edited by the participant after initial post. Moreover, there was one post deleted. Majority posting were talked about technical problems on using Kindle rather than about the initial topic, lending book functionality on Kindle. Some participants showed their expertise experiences on using Kindle by answering lots of other users concerns or questions. Only two topics with the highest frequency that I consider highly related to the initial announcement. First is the time of lending Kindle Books (14 days). Second is concern on does this feature can be used on older generation Kindle-readers, the second generation.

Discussion and evaluation

Besides pointed 4 important OC’s users motivated participation factors, Riding and Gefen (2004) revealed the valuable of OC for its users. In the OC, users have the freedom to express their point of views, provide or request information, express their feeling, and give possible solutions. For me, WiZiQ is the place where I can go to broadcast my opinion without have to attend a classroom. On the other hand, for my followers in this forum, they have the freedom to provide opinions. Moreover, they can request a teacher to teach a specific topic. For learners who want to pay, they can choose their own teacher by considering the teacher qualification provided on teacher’s profile home page. From the Amazon Kindle discussion, I found a large number of posts from users suggested solutions for their peers on setting their Kindle reader and other technical assistances. Motivating participation on business OCs like Amazon not only depend on the member-generated content, but has to be balanced with self-sustaining by the company (Riding and Gefen, 2004). The self-sustaining can be in form announcement, initial posting, or by having extrinsic reinforcement (Tedjamulia, et al., 2005).

According to Tedjamulia et al. (2005), gifts, social recognition, and feedback are an effective method of extrinsic reinforcement. For classroom discussion, usually to driven the students on active participation, the instructor have to give a clear instruction and follow with given them a grade or credits. Asking questions and requested students to post their answers as replies to the initial posting are other methods on improving participation. In the business driven OCs, for a particular occasion, business owners implement the extrinsic reinforcement by giving a draw presents, discounts, gifts or special offer to their returning loyalty customers.

By giving extrinsic reinforcement, participants are reminded with their uniqueness as the member of the OCs (Ling, et al., 2005). This is an effective way to touch the feeling of participants. They will proud with recognition given by the community through their unique participation. How do you feel if you receive a calendar with your name on printed on it and congratulation from the OC that you have become the most active member in the prior year? You must be feeling proud of that and tend to be more active in the coming year.

Lastly, I would like to try to look at the relevancy of motivation of participation on Twitter (Java, et al, 2009) and MySpace (Schrock, 2009) with the OCs that I choose to be analyze in this blog. One of the motivations of participation on Twitter relates with motivation on participation on WiZiQ, Wall, and Amazon Kindle Discussion Forum is sharing information and URLs. Furthermore, from paper about MySpace, one of the motivations of participation related is about the self-efficacy of users on using computer.


To conclude this post, I would like to propose several variables for future research on motivation to participation in OCs. Regarding to extrinsic reinforcement (Tedjamulia et al., 2005), and reminding of the user uniqueness (Ling et al., 2005) there are 3 major variables can be pull out. Those variables are the process of moderating, post rating, and post flagging. It is also important to look at how the environment of the site influenced the motivation to participate (Tedjamulia, et al., 2005). Navigational features and additional interactivity tabs (permalink, report abuse, and ignore this customer function, examples from Kindle Discussion Forum) can make a sense for users that people are paying attention to their participation. Leader participant is another variable which must be considered. Leader participant is the person who posting regularly on the OC and acting as expertise for other participants. Getting help/support from this leader participant can be motivation for people to go back to the site for posting when they stuck with their problem.


Ridings, Catherine, and Gefen. (2004). Virtual Community Attraction: Why People Hang Out Online. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 10(1).

Ling, K., G. Beenen, P. Ludford, X. Wang, K. Chang, X. Li, D. Cosley, D. Frankowski, L. Terveen, A.M. Rashid, P. Resnick and R. Kraut (2005). Using Social Psychology to Motivate Contributions to Online Communities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(4), article 10.

Tedjamulia, Steven J.J., David R. Olsen, Douglas L. Dean, Conan C. Albrecht (2005). Motivating Content Contributions to Online Communities: Toward a More Comprehensive Theory. Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

Schrock, Andrew (2009). Examining Social Media Usage: Technology Clusters and Social Network Site Membership. First Monday 14(1).

Java, Akshay, Xiaodan Song, Tim Finin and Belle Tseng (2007). Why We Twitter: Understanding the Microblogging Effect in User Intentions and Communities. Joint 9th WEBKDD and 1st SNA-KDD Workshop, 12 August 2007, San Jose, California.

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Philip Kent Whitford said...

It is interesting that you state that a "Majority posting were talked about technical problems on using Kindle rather than about the initial topic." I imagine this is often the case. Having dealt with unintuitive hardware before I have experienced the frustrations involved in trying to find someone to ask your question to. Having questions posted by real people with real problems helps other users (lurkers) who are dealing with similar issues. If this is one aspect of the kindle community then it would be extremely important to retain experienced users and it seems like the reinforcement mechanisms are there to encourage that process.

Erenst said...

commenting on your counter example to Shrock's article and your example, it is important to recognize cultural and value differences between the students from HI and Japan. I would leave it just at that because in terms of technology, Japanese are very advanced in their usage of cutting edge gadgets. They are very tech savvy, especially the young generation, who are very mobile heavy.
What might be a factor is the difference in technology used. Since the platform used is coming from the western side (Ning or Wall), perhaps the Japanese students are not familiar with them.
Still the major factor, I think and I agree, is the difference in what is valued (expressive vis-a-vis obedience) within the culture that creates this dynamic in your example.

Nana said...

It's interesting that there's a group focused on just on the Kindle. It makes sense though, since I'm guessing that the vast majority of people who use Kindles are non-technical people, but they enjoy the portability of text.(As for me, I'll probably hold off on getting any kind of e-reader, for a myriad of reasons which might take up a whole blog entry :P) I was wondering, did you find that most of the responses to questions were friendly, helpful ones? Or was there any level of intimidation or deception (ie. wrong instructions)?

HansomeAvatar said...

Kindle has their manual and it come with the download of apps to your personal device. For people who decide using the Kindle Reader, the manual come in electronic version with the Kindle. However, I think human more likely to share to other and talk with others when they overcome difficulty rather than consult the manual. Besides that, I experience called to Amazon, when I have a problem with my Kindle and the Customer Care person was helpful. By having the discussion forum, I assume that the main purpose of Amazon is to boost the number of e-book selling.

I agree with you that Japanese students, young people, are tech savvy. One interesting thing is when they did their video project, they were using the latest version of iPhone which is still consider as a very expensive gadget.

Generally, the answers are helpful. The participant who act as an expert that try to help even try to use a non-technical term to help the information seeker. In other word, the expert user try to rephrase the instruction from the Kindle manual.

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