Motivations for Answering Questions Online

Daphne Raban, F. Maxwell Harper

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The World Wide Web is not merely an information system; it is a social space
where people interact. One central form of interaction consists of asking and
answering questions. This chapter focuses on question answering sites and
examines why people provide answers to others, usually to complete strangers, with very few – if any – apparent incentives. We provide an overview of the structural characteristics of question answering sites that shed light on the nature of their activity and persistence, followed by an explanation of several intrinsic motivations, such as perceived ownership, commitment to a social role and various affective motivations for participation. To these are added a variety of extrinsic factors, including ratings, monetary incentives and social gratification. We explain why free riding and lurking are an organic part of question answering sites and conclude by offering several directions for future research
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Media and Innovative technologies – Industry and Society
EditorsD. Caspi , T. Azran
PublisherBurda Center Publishing
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2008


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