Jump to content

Submissions/WikiMotivation - why do we use and contribute to Wikimedia?

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
WikiMotivation – why do we use and contribute to Wikimedia?
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)


Author of the submission

Piotr Sitnik

E-mail address


Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Wikimedia Poland
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The presentation provides a glimpse into some of the psychological aspects of editing and using Wikimedia projects (Wikipedia will be treated as a working example). The author will seek to delineate the main motivational factors which prompt people to start contributing. Also described are the differences in approach between contributors and users, in terms of active and passive participation.

First, core principles of motivation will be laid out, addressing the issues of motivation at work, sustaining motivation, how motivation changes and fluctuates among creators and users.

Then, the talk compares involvement in Wikimedia projects with other, often derivative or similar, modes of creative expression. The author offers answers to the roots of discrepancies in the level of motivation displayed by scientists or artists and motivation of Wikimedia contributors. Also, the presentation will pose questions regarding the emotional impact of Wikimedia content on its users and how this is different from the influence of works of art and scientific publications or research on viewers or readers.

The third head of the discussion focuses on basic human needs and analyses means of fulfillment thereof provided by contributing to and using Wikimedia:

  • Certainty
  • Uncertainty
  • Significance
  • Connection
  • Growth
  • Contribution

Throughout the talk, references will be made to academic research and popular experiments, as well as personal observations and experiences. The corollary of the discussion will be that contributors may experience different levels of excitement, pain, pleasure or disappointment compared to Wikimedia users, a factor which exacts severe influence upon their motivation. Furthermore, it will be suggested that lack of editorial supervision (Wikimedia projects being free and editable by everyone) and peculiar practices in Wikimedia communities trigger motivational attitudes different from those sported by commercial creators, especially in the fields of business, science and art.


  • D. C. Caverly, A. Ward , 'Techtalk: Wikis and Collaborative Knowledge Construction' [2008] Journal of Developmental Education Vol. 32, No. 2 (Winter 2008), 36-37
  • B. Mausner, B.B. Snyderman, F. Herzberg, Motivation to Work (1st, Transaction Publishers, 1993) 184
  • Xiaoli Zhao, M. J. Bishop, 'Understanding and supporting online communities of practice: lessons learned from Wikipedia' [2011] Educational Technology Research and Development Vol. 59, No. 5 (October 2011), 711-735
  • Xiaoquan (Michael) Zhang, Feng Zhu , 'Group Size and Incentives to Contribute: A Natural Experiment at Chinese Wikipedia' [2011] The American Economic Review Vol. 101, No. 4 (June 2011), 1601-1615

WikiCulture & Community

Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Largely dependent on a scholarship application.
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

Interested attendees

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with a hash and four tildes. (# ~~~~).

Add your username here.

  1. --Claudia.Garad (talk) 13:37, 24 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Nedops (talk) 23:32, 26 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  3. --DuchMarleya (talk) 23:50, 26 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Tufor (talk) 00:37, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Rybulo7 (talk) 19:35, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  6. KrystleChung (talk) 20:47, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  7. guillom (talk) 23:59, 7 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 06:48, 26 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Marcio De Assis (talk) 15:34, 21 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Armineaghayan (talk) 13:38, 25 June 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 21:05, 18 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]