Managing User's Feedback

User initiative is essential to social systems.

How do we promote that?

Although altruisms plays a role in a number of human actions, it is not something which can be assumed to be prevalent in the behaviour of a person. Therefore, it is best to design systems on the assumption that people only do things if they can benefit from it. Therefore, expecting people to give feedback because it will make the system better for others to use is probably not the most productive way to elicit user feedback. People will do things if they can get something in return. This can be money, but also services from others. If the service is obtained from the person for which a favour was done, this is called direct reciprocity, and if the reciprocation is obtained from another person, this is called indirect reciprocity. Maybe it is useful to incorporate the body of work on reciprocity when designing feedback mechanisms ?

First of all, what users are we talking about?
Users of an information system or users of something the information system addresses in some way? A bit of disambiguation is needed here.

About altruism: while I agree in principle there are subtler ways of ‘getting something in return’.
People, for example, can do something just for the fun of it. Also, reputation is a well known powerful motivation.
It is difficult to measure these enablers of feedback. Especially ‘fun’. This is why economists took so long to understand open source software.
A startup classification of users motivation to give feedback and in general to partecipate could be the following:
1. project or product ‘appeal’: people could be motivated by the appeal of a project for various reasons, e.g. for ideological reasons (e.g. they believe that a certain product should be open/free) or for more practical reasons (e.g. they need an artifact that is not available otherwise, they need top performance and so on)
2. economic extrinsic motivation direct or indirect (e.g. enhance one’s professional status);
3. personal intrinsic motivations: enjoying working with others, enhancing social status, simply having fun;
4. community based intrinsic motivations: enhancing their reputation, reciprocity when they can get something from the community etc.

A nice reference (focused on Open Source software development) from which I have adapted some of these points is:
Lakhani, Karim R., Wolf, Robert G,. 2005 “Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects” in Feller, Fitzgerald, Hissam, Lakhani (eds) “Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software, MIT Press

This leads directly to the next questions: ‘wisdom of crowds’; since it’s apparent from the preceding discussion how social context can be a powerful multiplier in motivating user’s feedback.

How do we take that into account?

Shouldn't we evolve from user to community (get the wisdom of crowds)?

Which interactions with social sciences?

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