Herding the cats: The influence of groups in coordinating peer production

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Herding the cats: The influence of groups in coordinating peer production is a 2009 conference paper written in English by Kittur A., Pendleton B., Kraut R.E. and published in Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration, WiKiSym 2009.

[edit] Abstract

Peer production systems rely on users to self-select appropriate tasks and "scratch their personal itch". However, many such systems require significant maintenance work, which also implies the need for collective action, that is, individuals following goals set by the group and performing good citizenship behaviors. How can this paradox be resolved? Here we examine one potential answer: the influence of social identification with the larger group on contributors' behavior. We examine Wikipedia, a highly successful peer production system, and find a significant and growing influence of group structure, with a prevalent example being the WikiProject. Comparison of editors who join projects with those who do not and comparisons of the joiners' behavior before and after they join a project suggest their identification with the group plays an important role in directing them towards group goals and good citizenship behaviors. Upon joining, Wikipedians are more likely to work on project-related content, to shift their contributions towards coordination rather than production work, and to perform maintenance work such as reverting vandalism. These results suggest that group influence can play an important role in maintaining the health of online communities, even when such communities are putatively self-directed peer production systems. Copyright

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