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May 2010

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Kevin Martone

Thanks for the prize!

For me, the incentive merely caused me to move the to-do of contributing higher on my list. I am constantly looking for examples and case studies of what works, what doesn't, and why, so I wanted to share some of my own experiences as part of this project. However, I am constantly bombarded with to-do's: things I have to do for my job, blog posts I want to read and comment on, new tools I want to try out and research, etc.

What the book incentive did for me was to spur me to immediate action, rather than making a mental note to contribute later. Sometimes "later" becomes "never" when the list gets too long.

I think registration is nice so that you can reach out to someone who posts their experiences to get more details. However, keeping registration only optional may allow someone to post who would rather not share their personal information.

As for the gift, I think a limited number of "better" gifts is better than everyone receiving some smaller item. The books definitely helped push me to submit when I did. A lesser gift might not have pushed my contribution up my to-do list.

Alex Berger

Thanks for the prize!

Lack of registration I believe was a good thing. It left it open and implied that you would be cleaning up the formatting at a later date which for me at least, helped overcome the concern that I was adding content where it didn't belong, toying with the structure in a way different than what you'd requested.

The instant gratification element is always good. It illustrates sincerity and has a two fold benefit. 1st that you're actively involved and serious about the process. 2nd that you're watching closely who participates and how things unwind. This adds a level of social validation and investment from the audience.

* How important was the incentive of a free book a factor in your decision to participate or not?
The incentive was interesting and did play a roll, mostly in motivating me to actually break down and spend the minute or two required to acquaint myself with the wiki and it's structure.

That the book was being offered did weigh in as a motivator, though I had no honest expectation of winning. It was more a fun bonus, what if/validation of the sincerity of the questions. For me, it was more that if you cared enough to offer a prize for feedback, then that feedback had value and was worth making.

* If we didn't offer a free book, would have made a contribution to the wiki anyway?
My initial comment post on the blog - yes for sure. My contributions to the Wiki? I believe so, but more because of your follow up response.
* Why did you contribute to the wiki?
Several responses across several of the question pages.

Amy Sample Ward

Hey Beth!

Thanks for the book :)

I just posted some reflections at the 6 week mark on the SSIR blog (and my blog): https://www.ssireview.org/opinion/entry/we_are_media_project_a_lesson_in_eating_your_own_dog_food/

To answer the questions about incentives...I think that incentives can really bring in participation, even if it isn't something physical, like a book, but having the 'winner's' name highlighted on the top of the page or home page, for example - a way of highlighting contributors within the community. I'm always a fan of positive reinforcement though!

Michael Waugaman

**How important was the incentive .....
Not very - but it did somehow make things seem a bit friendlier and more approachable.

**If we didn't offer a free book, would .....
Yes. Contribution was made out of sense of wanting to belong to community and desire to contribute to work that benefits me/my work. Potential prize was only a bonus.

**Why did you contribute to the wiki.....
See above.
________________________________________
RE: Should everyone win something?
Ideally, the answer is yes. eventually. But not necessarily prizes.

Coming from a volunteer management background I've learned that *awarding* prizes can be a bit dangerous in terms of managing community/team motivation as it can lead to individuals feeling undervalued. A kind of /If someone 'wins' the prize then someone(s) must have 'lost'/ mentality. Though well established teams (or reasonable mature adults) are unlikely to be effected in can impact on fledgling groups.

Other possible incentives that come to mind:
-a We Are Media blog pointing out good efforts ("hats off to Sally for ....")
-awarding a WAM badge/widget/banner for notable efforts for folks to display on their own blogs ("I participated in WAM")
-tweet out good behaviour w/ relevant link (reward AND free PR for WAM)
-use brightkite.com to figure out where *winners* are and then send someone to give them a hug :)

If there's going to be physical goodies then a possible alternative might be something like the old fashioned PR/Marketing swag approach where goodies are distributed on a quieter and seemingly ad hoc basis at the discretion of community manager(s). CMs can then not only reward particularly useful contributions but can also reward simple participation for the sake of it (and for the benefit of an individual community member who might be feeling left out). Downside is that not only is the far more labour intensive but such non-democratic methods can be, or be perceived to be, abused.

I'm keen to hear others thoughts on this as I'm about to have a soft launch of an issue-based, low-level (in terms of expected activity) community. There is a small amount of funding available for enticements like the ones used here but I hope not to have to go too far down this route. The plan is to put in the offline leg work on the phone/email/in person to build the sense of community. Fingers crossed.

For me it's more about positively reinforcing participation than actually enticing it. I believe Amy touches on this in her comment above - which is good to hear because as the first non-winner to comment I'll be trying to borrow her copy when she gets to England ;)

Paul Morriss

I was pleased when I hit the edit button that I didn't have to register, but I probably would have done in order to edit.

The instant gratification thing probably helped overcome some relcutance to take part.

* How important was the incentive of a free book a factor in your decision to participate or not?
Fairly important. As we're at the thinking stage in the process I don't have much to contribute.
* If we didn't offer a free book, would have made a contribution to the wiki anyway?
Probably not.
* Why did you contribute to the wiki?
Free book!

(I'm the second non-winner to comment.)

Marc

I wanted to echo Kevin's comment about moving it up higher in the to-do list (clearly, replying to this post got lost in the list again, for which I apologize). I was following the We Are Media modules and wanted to contribute, but never got to it. This might have also had something to do a fear that my contributions wouldn't be worth much.

So what the incentive did was a) stimulate a quicker entry into participation and b) make the fear of not adding value a less important factor in participation.

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