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Submissions/Cooperation in a Peer Production Economy: Experimental Evidence from Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2014.

Submission no. 1027
Title of the submission
Cooperation in Peer Production Economy: Experimental Evidence from Wikipedia
Type of submission
Author of the submission
SalimJah (talk) 09:59, 25 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
E-mail address
SalimJah (talk) 09:59, 25 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society
The impressive success of peer production – a large-scale collaborative model of production primarily based on voluntary contributions – is difficult to explain by relying solely on standard assumptions about individual preferences. This paper studies the prosocial foundations of cooperation in Wikipedia, a peer production economy in which monetary incentives play no role in shaping individual behavior. We design an online experiment coupled with observational data to elicit social motives within a representative sample of 850 Wikipedia contributors, and use those measures to predict subjects’ field contributions to the Wikipedia project. We thus provide the first comprehensive field test of existing economic theories of prosocial motives for contributing to real-world public goods. We find that regular editors’ field contributions to Wikipedia are strongly related to their level of reciprocity in a conditional Public Goods game and in a Trust game and to their revealed preference for social image within the Wikipedia community, but not to their level of altruism either in a standard or in a directed Dictator game. The extent of participation within the group of Wikipedia administrators – who self-selected into performing a policing role within the Wikipedia community – is positively related to their revealed preference for social image but, unlike regular contributors, strongly negatively related to their level of reciprocity. Using our measure of trust in strangers from the Trust game, we show that while trust is unrelated to contribution levels among regular editors, less trusting Wikipedia administrators are significantly more active and more likely to exercise their policing rights.
  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
45 minutes (including questions)

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