Task Specialization in Social Production Communities: The Case of Geographic Volunteer Work

author: Mikhil Masli, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota
published: Aug. 18, 2011,   recorded: July 2011,   views: 2970


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In social production communities, users’ individual and collective efforts lead to the creation of valuable resources – cf. Wikipedia, Open Street Map, and Reddit. Contributors to such communities often specialize in the tasks they choose to do. We found evidence for specialization by work type in Cyclopath, a geographic wiki for bicyclists – most users edit a single type of map feature, such as points of interest or roads and trails. We also saw a user lifecycle effect: as users gain experience, they specialize in editing roads and trails. Our findings suggest more effective ways to organize social production interfaces, compose units of work, and match them to users who want to help.

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