New Research on the Effects of Thanking Others on Wikipedia(s)

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New Research on the Effects of Thanking Others on Wikipedia(s)

J. Nathan Matias
Hi everyone,

Can expressions of gratitude make online communities stronger and more
inclusive? Or does thanking others for their voluntary efforts have little

CAT Lab <> has partnered with Arabic, German,
Persian and Polish language Wikipedias to answer those questions - and more
- in two new studies.

In a field experiment that organized experienced Wikipedians to thank
thousands of editors
we found that *receiving a Thanks increased two week retention by 2
percentage points* on average. Receiving thanks also causes recipients to
send 43% more thanks on average (preprint <>).

A partner study looked at the effects on senders of giving Thanks
While we did not find an effect, this could be because *many** volunteers
already felt emotionally drained from their efforts on Wikipedia and
weren't able to complete the study*. Because of this, we made valuable
discoveries about who spends time supporting others, how they think about
the intentions of newcomers, and how they feel about their work. We also
gained insights into Wikipedians who consider themselves "mentors" and
"monitors" (preprint <>).

We value feedback and discussion as we move our pre-prints toward
submission for publication.


Our team of Julia Kamin, Max Klein, Eric Pennington, and I are tremendously
grateful to the many Wikipedians who partnered with us in this work, in
particular our eight liaisons who worked closely with us in the design of
the studies, including Reem Al-Kashif, Christine Domgörgen,  Mohamed
ElGohary, Maria Heuschkel, Amir Ladsgroup, Wojciech Pędzich, Mohsen Salek,
and Natalia Szafran-Kozakowska.

Conducting Collaborative Field Experiments with Wikipedia Communities

This research was done in collaboration with language Wikipedias and
reviewed by two university ethics boards. We hope that this research
inspires more participatory research that is co-created by Wikipedia

In the next year, we are working to open our process & software to a wider
range of communities and researchers. Toward that end, CAT Lab is currently
developing ideas and fundraising for our next round of collaborations,
building on our workshops and community research summit
<> in
Stockholm last year. If you have ideas, please reach out!

J. Nathan Matias <> : Cornell University : Citizens
and Technology Lab <>  : @natematias
<> : blog
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