Help Lowimpact.org become a wiki, to provide more (and more relevant) information for visitors

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Posted Jan 31 2021 by Dave Darby of Lowimpact.org
Help Lowimpact.org become a wiki

We’ve been liaising with Simon Grant, of the P2P Foundation Wiki, and making plans for turning Lowimpact.org into a wiki. We already have a network of specialists who provide information for our topics and respond to visitors’ queries. We want to expand this network, as well as the number of topics we cover. We also want to provide information about how to help people re-skill to change careers, as millions of people around the world lose their jobs.

Simon introduced us to Pascal Carpentier, a Ph.D. Candidate at Erasmus University Rotterdam School of Management, who we’re working with to improve Lowimpact, to make it more useful and interesting for visitors. He wants to understand the motivations, expectations and experiences of visitors to the site, including our network of specialists, and gain insight into what motivates people to share knowledge online. We want to explore ways of providing information, and to add more topics, to take Lowimpact.org to the next level.

To that end, we’d like to invite you to take a quick survey, devised by Pascal. It will take around 3 minutes. We’re offering a chance to win a free online course of your choice to survey participants. A prize draw will be held at the end of the survey.

Take the survey.

Or copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://erasmusuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9sPWbZCjg69AOcl

Here’s some more information about the research from Pascal (any questions you have for Pascal, you can drop in the comments section below).


The 90-9-1 rule

This research starts with an odd discovery. In online communities, such as Wikipedia or Lowimpact, a rule of thumb called the 90-9-1 rule shows that 1% of members create 90% of the content. In comparison, 9% of members mainly focus on editing or commenting. The rest, 90% of members, are merely reading articles, never contributing.

This rule of thumb has been confirmed scientifically. However, historically all these online community members were studied as if they represented a homogeneous population. I’m interested in understanding what motivates people to participate in online communities such as Lowimpact. I want to look into people’s differing motivations depending on their level of contribution. The result of this survey will also help the Lowimpact team improve the website and provide you with a better website experience and relevant information.

A bit of background on motivations theory

Motivation is a psychological force that determines the individual level of effort and persistence when facing an obstacle (Kanfer, 1990).

The literature on motivation theory describes two primary forms of motivation, the intrinsic and the extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is typically the joy of completing a task and the pleasure of helping others. In contrast, extrinsically motivated people are motivated by the outcome of their behavior, the result of their actions. It is a goal-oriented motivation, where one’s behavior is motivated by the anticipation of a future direct or indirect monetary compensation or an increased reputation (Deci et al., 1975).

However, according to the self-determination theory (SDT) (Deci & Ryan, 2002) there is no black and white distinction between both forms of motivation. In fact, extrinsic motivations can be internalized by an individual to become almost an intrinsic motivation under certain circumstances.

Scholars have shown that adhering to the common goal of a community could lead to considering activities related to this community as personally endorsed values.

Why the Lowimpact website?

Eco-friendly behavior often requires additional effort, such as sorting rubbish for recycling . A stronger inner motivation could be required to sustain these actions over the long run. Interestingly, we witness that individuals adhering to eco-friendly behaviors internalize these external constraints and transform them into a powerful motivation source. For instance, in ecology, identification with the policy goal is a strong driver for sustainable behavior (Dedeurwaerdere et al., 2016).

Therefore, the Lowimpact website seems like a place where extrinsic motivation internalization is observable as well. The website’s values and objectives to share knowledge and resources to reduce negative impacts on our planet, as well as system change, are likely to trigger internalized motivations.

One of the hypotheses I would like to test is the following. Although some experts provide content to the site to raise their profile and reach more potential customers, I suspect their motivation is not purely financial (e.g. extrinsic) but echoes with values and objectives of the Lowimpact community (e.g makes it an internalized motivation).

Likewise, members coming to the website, posting comments, taking online courses etc. are not solely interested in making savings while producing useful things. They also commit to make the world a better place, and that echoes with their values.

Thanks for participating in the survey. I hope we can better understand community members’ motivations. We expect rich and nuanced results according to the various levels of contribution to the community, but also to understand how the Lowimpact’s goals influence your motivation and behavior.

What you need to know about this survey

Voluntary participation: Your participation is voluntary, and you can stop at any time by closing the online survey. It is not mandatory to answer all questions. There are no legal or economic risks associated with your participation in this study.

Data collection: The questionnaire comprises 35 questions; it will take you approximately 3 minutes to fill in.

Confidentiality & data protection: This research is confidential; your name will not be collected, and your personal information will never appear anywhere. Only my supervisors and I will have access to your data. The survey results will be stored in a secure location at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and will be kept ten years after the research ends to secure scientific integrity.

Data sharing: The collected data will only be used by my supervisors and me for academic research purposes at Erasmus University Rotterdam. As a firm believer in the virtue of open-access science, the scientific article produced based on this survey’s outcome and the subsequent Ph.D. thesis will be fully available to the general public over the internet. Of course, no source data will be shared at this stage, only statistical results.

Your individual rights: When you participate in the research, you have the right to request more information about the data collection, analysis or withdraw the consent and ask for data erasure before the dataset is locked and the manuscript submitted for publishing. You can exercise your rights under all applicable laws and regulations by submitting an email to [email protected].

Best regards,

Pascal Carpentier