“Guess what! You’re the first to see this event”: Increasing Contribution to Online Production Communities

Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


ACM Group (2016)


In this paper, we describe the results of an online field experiment examining the impacts of messaging about task novelty on the volume of volunteers’ contributions to an online citizen science project. Encouraging volunteers to provide a little more content as they work is an attractive strategy to increase the community’s output. Prior research found that an important motivation for participation in online citizen science is the wonder of being the first person to observe a particular image. To appeal to this motivation, a pop-up message was added to an online citizen science project that alerted volunteers when they were the first to annotate a particular image. Our analysis reveals that new volunteers who saw these messages increased the volume of annotations they contributed. The results of our study suggest an additional strategy to increase the amount of work volunteers contribute to online communities and citizen science projects specifically.