Voluntary Engagement in an Open Web-Based Encyclopedia: Wikipedians and Why They Do It

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Voluntary Engagement in an Open Web-Based Encyclopedia: Wikipedians and Why They Do It is a 2009 journal article written in English by Joachim Schroer, Guido Hertel.

[edit] Abstract

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia is a highly successful “open content” project, written and maintained completely by volunteers. Little is known, however, about the motivation of these volunteers. Results from an online survey among 106 contributors to the German Wikipedia project are presented. Both motives derived from social sciences (perceived benefits, identification with Wikipedia, etc.) as well as perceived task characteristics (autonomy, skill variety, etc.) were assessed as potential predictors of contributors' satisfaction and self-reported engagement. Satisfaction ratings were particularly determined by perceived benefits, identification with the Wikipedia community, and task characteristics. Engagement was particularly determined by high tolerance for opportunity costs and by task characteristics, the latter effect being partially mediated by intrinsic motivation. Relevant task characteristics for contributors' engagement and satisfaction were perceived autonomy, task significance, skill variety, and feedback. Models from social sciences and work psychology complemented each other by suggesting that favorable task experiences might counter perceived opportunity costs in Wikipedia contributors. Moreover, additional data reported by Wikipedia authors indicate the importance of generativity motives.

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