Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Problem of undercontribution to online collaborative platform

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Problem of undercontribution to online collaborative platform (Wei-Ting Yen)

WikiBook is an online collaborative platform and it supports online groups to contribute knowledge and share information. However, just like other online forums, a common characteristic is that the distribution of members’ contributions is highly uneven. A small portion of active participants contribute the vast majority of the contents, whereas the remainder do not post anything or only read. This phenomenon is called social loafing, means “group membership degrades individual motivation” (Carroll, 2003). Individuals tend to spend less efforts when they are part of a working group than when they work alone.

Carroll (2003) discussed the possible solutions that can solve the problem of undercontribution to online groups according to social-psychological theories. For example, he suggested that one can increase the attractiveness of a group either by influencing members’ connections to particular others in the group, or by influencing their identification with the group as a whole. Carroll called this strategy attractive principle. The other way to motivate members to increate their commitment to a group, as suggested by Carroll, is to emphasize properties of the group itself, instead of the people who constitute it. He believed that people will feel more committed to groups that have clear boundaries, which differentiate group members from outsiders.