The motivations surrounding online participation are complex. Studies have shown that committed members of online communities have reasons to remain active. As long as members feel the need to contribute, there is a mutual dependence between the community and the member.
Although many researchers have come up with several motivations behind online contribution, these theories can all be categorized under instrinsic and extrinsic motivations.
Intrinsic motivation refers to an action that is driven by personal interests and internal emotions in the task itself while extrinsic motivation refers to an action that is influenced by external factors, often for a certain outcome, reward or recognition. The two types of motivation contradict each other but often go hand-in-hand in cases where continual contribution is observed.
Several motivational factors lead people to continue their participation to these online communities and remain loyal. Peter Kollock researched motivations for contributing to online communities. Kollock (1999, p.227) outlines three motivations that do not rely on altruistic behavior on the part of the contributor: - anticipated reciprocity - increased recognition - sense of efficacy
Another motivation, in which Marc Smith mentions in his 1992 thesis ''Voices from the WELL: The Logic of the Virtual Commons'' is "Communion"—a "sense of community" as it is referred to in social psychology. In a simple sentence we can say it is made by people for the people social psychology.
We can identify a number of different motivations that to a lesser or greater extent have been reported in research in this area:
# See also