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Science Policy

Experimental Study of Informal Rewards in Peer Production
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Author: Michael Restivo et al.

by Michael Restivo, Arnout van de Rijt

We test the effects of informal rewards in online peer production. Using a randomized, experimental design, we assigned editing awards or “barnstars” to a subset of the 1% most productive Wikipedia contributors. Comparison with the control group shows that receiving a barnstar increases productivity by 60% and makes contributors six times more likely to receive additional barnstars from other community members, revealing that informal rewards significantly impact individual effort.