It was fun, but did it last? The dynamic interplay between fun motives and contributors' activity in peer-production

Martina Balestra, Lior Zalmanson, Coye Cheshire, Ofer Arazy, Oded Nov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peer production communities often struggle to retain contributors beyond initial engagement. This may be a result of contributors' level of motivation, as it is deeply intertwined with activity. Existing studies on participation focus on activity dynamics but overlook the accompanied changes in motivation. To fill this gap, this study examines the interplay between contributors' fun motives and activity over time. We combine motivational data from two surveys of Wikipedia newcomers with data of two periods of editing activity. We find that persistence in editing is related to fun, while the amount of editing is not: individuals who persist in editing are characterized by higher fun motives early on (when compared to dropouts), though their motives are not related to the number of edits made. Moreover, we found that newcomers' experience of fun was reinforced by their amount of activity over time: editors who were initially motivated by fun entered a virtuous cycle, whereas those who initially had low fun motives entered a vicious cycle. Our findings shed new light on the importance of early experiences and reveal that the relationship between motivation and participation levels is more complex than previously understood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Association for Computing Machinery.


  • Fun
  • Motivations
  • Online communities
  • Peer production
  • Sustained participation
  • Wikipedia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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