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New forms of production based in electronic technology, such as
open-source and open-content production, convert private commodities
(typically software) into essentially public goods. A number of
studies find that, like in other collective goods, incentives for
reputation and group identity motivate contributions to open source
goods, thereby overcoming the social dilemma inherent in producing
such goods. In this paper we examine how contributor motivations
affect the quality of contributions to the open-content online
encyclopedia Wikipedia. We find that quality is associated with
contributor motivations, but in a surprisingly inconsistent
way. Registered users' quality increases with more contributions,
consistent with the idea of participants motivated by reputation and
commitment to the Wikipedia community. Surprisingly, however, we find
the highest quality from the vast numbers of anonymous "Good
Samaritans" who contribute only once. Our findings that Good
Samaritans as well as committed "zealots" contribute high quality
content to Wikipedia suggest that it is the quantity as well as the
quality of contributors that positively affects the quality of open
A preliminary version of this paper was published online in November 2005.
Bibliographic citation for this report: [plain text] [BIB] [BibTeX] [Refer]
Or copy and paste:
Denise Anthony, Sean W. Smith, and Tim Williamson, "The Quality of Open Source Production: Zealots and Good Samaritans in the Case of Wikipedia." Dartmouth Computer Science Technical Report TR2007-606, September 2007.
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