Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Avoiding Social Loafing

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Avoiding Social Loafing

The WikiBook collaborative platform is a great tool for compiling and sharing information. The information is formed, expanded, and reviewed by other users who make edits and contributions based on their expertise. In this way WikiBooks operates like open source software where the constant peer review leads to robust and optimized results. The format is susceptible to uneven contribution distribution, a phenomenon known as social loafing. This effect can be minimized by eliminating anonymity, decreasing the size of the collaborating group, and increasing diversity. If properly executed the WikiBook platform can be an effective supplement, or even a replacement, for face-to-face collaboration. As an example one might use the WikiBook platform to create documentation for an application developed by a team of individuals. Because each developer knows their contribution the best the collaboration results in the most accurate documentation. Edits could be routed to a project lead for approval. The project lead strives to maintain order and flow in the document and provides a sense of oversight to decrease anonymity of the team members.