Beyond reciprocity: The bystander effect of knowledge response in online knowledge communities

Published on Nov 1, 2017in Computers in Human Behavior
· DOI :10.1016/J.CHB.2017.06.040
Bei Yan2
Estimated H-index: 2
(UPenn: University of Pennsylvania),
Lian Jian9
Estimated H-index: 9
(UPenn: University of Pennsylvania)
Abstract Because new members are important sources of knowledge to online knowledge communities, it is important to retain them after their initial interactions with the community. With a large-scale behavioral dataset collected from a leading online Question and Answer community for programmers, Stack Overflow, we investigated how the community's knowledge responses and social responses to newcomers' questions affected their subsequent likelihood of knowledge contribution (answering others' questions) and knowledge seeking (asking more questions). 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.
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