Various studies have been done with regard to the motivations of Wikipedia contributors. In a 2003 study of Wikipedia as a community, economics Ph.D. student Andrea Ciffolilli argued that the low transaction costs of participating in wiki software create a catalyst for collaborative development, and that a "creative construction" approach encourages participation.
A paper written by Andrea Forte and Amy Bruckman in 2005, called "Why Do People Write for Wikipedia? Incentives to Contribute to Open-Content Publishing", discussed the possible motivations of Wikipedia contributors. It applied Latour and Woolgar's concept of the Laboratory Life#Cycles of Credit to Wikipedia contributors, suggesting that the reason that people write for Wikipedia is to gain recognition within the community.
Oded Nov, in his 2007 paper "What Motivates Wikipedians", related the motivations of volunteers in general to the motivations of people who contribute to Wikipedia. Nov carried out a survey using the six motivations of volunteers, identified in an earlier paper. The six motivations he used were:
- __Values__ – expressing values to do with altruism and helping others - __Social__ – engaging with friends, taking part in activities viewed favourably by others - __Understanding__ – expanding knowledge through activities - __Career__ – gaining work experience and skills - __Protective__ – e.g., reducing guilt over Privilege (social inequality)|personal privilege - __Enhancement__ – demonstrating knowledge to others
- __Ideology__ – expressing support for what is perceived to be the underlying ideology of the activity (e.g., the belief that libre knowledge|knowledge should be free) - __Fun__ – enjoying the activity
The Wikimedia Foundation has carried out several surveys of Wikipedia contributors and users. In 2008, the Wikimedia Foundation, alongside the Collaborative Creativity Group at UNU-MERIT, launched a survey of readers and editors of Wikipedia. It was the most comprehensive survey of Wikipedia ever conducted. The results of the survey were published two years later on March 24, 2010. The Wikimedia Foundation began a process in 2011 of semi-annual surveys in order to understand Wikipedia editors more and better cater to their needs.
"Motivations of Wikipedia Content Contributors", a paper by Heng-Li Yang and Cheng-Yu Lai, hypothesised that, because contributing to Wikipedia is voluntary, an individual's enjoyment of participating would be the highest motivator. However, their study showed that although people might initially start editing Wikipedia out of enjoyment, the most likely motivation for continuing to participate is self-concept based motivations such as "I like to share knowledge which gives me a sense of personal achievement."
A further study in 2014 by Cheng-Yu Lai and Heng-Li Yang explored the reasons why people continue editing Wikipedia content. The study used authors of the English-language version of the site and received 288 valid online survey responses. Their results indicated and confirmed that subjective task value, commitment, and procedural justice were significant to satisfaction of Wikipedians; and satisfaction significantly influenced an author's continued intention to edit Wikipedia content.
Editors of Wikipedia have occasionally given personal testimonials of why they contribute to Wikipedia. A common theme of these testimonials is the enjoyment that editors seem to get from contributing to Wikipedia and being part of the Wikipedia community. Also mentioned is the potential addictive quality of editing Wikipedia.
Gina Trapani of Lifehacker said "it turns out editing an article isn't scary at all. It's easy, surprisingly satisfying and can become obsessively addictive." Jimmy Wales has also commented on the addictive quality of Wikipedia, saying "The main thing about Wikipedia ... is that it’s fun and addictive".
Wikipedians sometimes award one another "Wikipedia:Barnstars" for good work. These personalized tokens of appreciation reveal a wide range of valued work extending far beyond simple editing to include social support, administrative actions, and types of articulation work. The barnstar phenomenon has been analyzed by researchers seeking to determine what implications it might have for other communities engaged in large-scale collaborations.
# See also