Encouraging Participation in Online Communities

This was the title of the very inspiring talk given by Julita Vassileva from the MADMUC Lab yesterday in the DFKI in Saarbrücken.

20061205 SB_Vassileva

If you want to reach a critical mass of participation (thus hoping that the community will become self-sustained), you have to find a way to attract and keep users. The talk focused on rewarding users, e.g., with virtual currency, status or power in the community. There were some nice ideas like presenting users in the shape of a star, whose color, shape and brightness depends on a user’s status in the community and the number and quality of his/her contributions. And to tease my Semantic Web friends and colleagues: I enjoyed the statement “Using a predefined taxonomy or ontology is not a good idea”. Of course it is not ;-)

But reward mechanisms are just one part of the solution: In the Alertbox from October 9th (Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute), Jacob Nielsen is giving some very helpful additional advices:

  • Make it easier to contribute
  • Make participation a side effect (this is a great example)
  • Edit, don’t create
  • Promote quality contributors

And to avoid depressions, one should possibly keep in mind the following quotation from Nielsen:

“How to Overcome Participation Inequality?” - “You Can’t!”

Last but not least, it’s also a good idea to Build Your Critical Mass around Early Adopters.

Let’s see how succesful I will be in my attempts to reach a critical mass of participation in ALOE

Leave a Reply