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A Study of the Motivation Behind Collaborative Knowledge Production and the Formation of Community in Web 2.0, using the Case Study of wikiHow.com
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media, Media and Communication Studies.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

As our society merges with the digital, new issues of community, collaboration and knowledge production have risen to the forefront of the social sciences in a quest to explore what this means at both the macro and micro level. Collaborative knowledge production is the process of a large group of individuals joining forces to co-create tangible pieces of information. It only functions when a critical mass of individuals get together to co-create the resource. As these actions are unpaid, voluntary work, the challenge is to motivate individuals to donate their own resources (such as time and expertise) to the project.  

This paper examines the motivations behind such actions, and whether or not a community is inevitably constructed by such actions, indeed whether or not community is even theoretically possible in the online sphere.  wikiHow.com, a popular collaborative website, was used as an in-depth case-study in my research. I chose a qualitative approach, distributing both open and closed questionnaires to participants on the wikiHow website through both snowball and convenience sampling methods. The theoretical discussion and analysis draws apon work from Wellman, Putnam, Levy, Lessig, Benkler and Maslow, among others prominent in the field.

 Participants revealed they were driven to contibute by numerous, interlinked motivations, linked primarily by the high level of importance they placed on social activities. This study provides novel evidence that wikiHow users are multifaceted entities, driven by a large range of factors with a strong emphasis on seeking out and participating in social interaction. This leads us to label wikiHow as a definitively modern community and allows us to conclude that community has not disappeared, rather it has evolved and adapted to include emergent digital possibilities.



Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 80 p.
Keyword [en]
collaboration, community, knowledge production, motivation, web 2.0
National Category
Media and Communications
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-229044OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-229044DiVA: diva2:735452
Subject / course
Media and Communication Studies
Educational program
Master Programme in Social Sciences
Available from: 2015-01-27 Created: 2014-07-28 Last updated: 2015-01-27Bibliographically approved

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