Praise Divers. Why people collaborate for free.
BusinessWeek Magazine tries to get under the phenomena on why there is so much of free stuff that people are creating online. And boils it down to the reward economy. Will work for praise. Beyond brand-hungry strivers, masses of free laborers continue to toil without ever seeing a payday, or even angling for one. Many find compensation in currencies that predate the market economy. These include winning praise from peers, earning an exalted place within a community, scoring thrills from winning, and finding satisfaction in helping others. From universities to the computer labs of Internet giants, researchers are working to decode motivations, and to perfect the art of enlisting volunteers. Prahbakar Raghavan, chief of Yahoo Research, estimates that 4% to 6% of Yahoo’s users are drawn to contribute their energies for free, whether it’s writing movie reviews or handling questions at Yahoo Answers. One of the interesting things about the free collaborators is that not all of them are in this game for money. The article points to this experiment by CommuniSpace, a company that has an army of volunteers who talk about their experience with products and services. In this private community, rewards in cash seems to be a taboo, as they found out in this experiment. Participation rose when volunteers received a token $10 gift certificate as a thank-you. But raising the value of the certificates made no difference. According to Manila Austin, psychologist and researcher at CommuniSpace “People want the validation that they are being heard,” volunteers appreciated the gesture, but didn’t want payment. More In BusinessWeek.