Social Responses To Questions

An interesting paper to note:

Contrary to the theory of reciprocity, and in line with predictions by the bystander effect, we found that receiving high quality answers negatively influenced new knowledge seekers’ future likelihood of knowledge contribution.

Consistent with the social exchange theory, receiving high quality answers positively affected newcomers’ future knowledge seeking behaviors. Social responses (votes to the new members’ questions) were found to have strong positive effects on both newcomers’ future knowledge contribution and seeking behaviors.

This closely aligns with what we’ve seen.

Providing a really good answer to a question might encourage more questions but not more answers to a question. Reciprocity doesn’t work well within most online communities as people primarily interact with strangers.

If you want to convert an asker into an answerer, you usually need to tickle their needs for status and validation. Give them a small taste of importance (stress the impact or influence of the question). Great answers alone aren’t enough.


  1. Alessio Fattorini says:

    Ehi Rich,
    what do you mean with “stress the impact or influence of the question” ? Can you provide us some examples?

  2. Kathleen Ulrich says:

    HI I would love to see more on this topic, too.

  3. Richard Millington says:

    @Kathy and @ale_fattorini,

    I meant highlight the importance of the question to others and to them, identify who or how it might help etc…Generally making them feel like they did a good thing by asking the question in the first place.

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