why community members support others

December 21, 2012

Based on the paper below, networked scaffolding can be provided by persons who are:

– sharing the same community identity – the community concepts, ideas, activities and concerns

– able to synthesize and translate supportive knowledge from one community across community borders to aid members of another community

– are trusted because are wiser and have reputation and peer esteem in the community, their advice works in practice and is timely

– not afraid of work-monitoring and evaluation based on the analytics of their help-giving behaviors

– do support voluntarily to gain peer esteem in the community

– not afraid of idea-stealing because they can get credit of honest attribution as the originators of the ideas and ways of how to make problems solved.


Learning in Knowledge Communities: Managing Technology and Context


MICHAEL BARRETT, Judge Institute of Management, University of Cambridge

SAM CAPPLEMAN, Hewlett Packard Global Alliances

GAMILA SHOIB, School of Management, University of Bath

GEOFF WALSHAM, Judge Institute of Management, University of Cambridge

European Management Journal Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 1–11, 2004

According to Brown and Duguid (2000) learning in communities (‘knowledge communities’) needs to be cultivated through encouragement and facilitation, for example in allowing new ideas to develop and circulate within and between communities (constellation of communities which exist in organizations (Wenger, 1998; Ward, 2002).

A group of people becomes a community of-practice if individuals contribute in a voluntary way,because they feel that they learn a lot through community participation, and because they identify themselves closely with what they perceive to be the community culture.

Community participants can ask questions and receive answers within a short period of time and over spaces.

The existence of clear reasons (business-related needs, interest, incentives, altruism) for knowledge-sharing in the community.

Participants must trust the responses they receive.

Grounding processes in organizational knowledge creation require higher trust level for sharing this knowledge with technology. The virtual interaction can sometimes be a poor choice for particularly complex, political or trust-based communication and interaction.

Participants must find the responses effective in practice.

The work monitoring and collaborative problem-solving support based on incident-tracking support system has to be a natural aspect of the job culture.

The voluntary participation of members of an online community in knowledge-creation is motivated by highly valued benefits such as reputation and peer esteem.

The danger of putting out creative ideas on any electronic system is that they can be taken up and used by others without clear attribution to the originator of the ideas.

Freedom from learning from others, lateral communication and grass-roots development of ideas may be seen as threatening  to existing power structures, particularly if those structures are highly top-down and centralized.

Attempts to communicate meaning is generally more difficult due to the lack of shared symbols such as professional language, job purpose, and norms of behavior between communities.

Hewlett Packard’s approach to knowledge community is based on a system of user profiles and ratings to each others’ postings from 1 to 10. The response from a particular person comes, therefore, with some ‘credit rating’, making it easier for the questioner to assess the likely value of the answer. The development of trust is supported by the credit ratings described above, and reinforced if the advice that is received actually works. The points rating of an individual is a reflection of the person’s perceived value to other community members.

An incident-tracking support system in Zeta enabled an individual specialist to keep track of a particular customer problem and attempts at its solution, but it also facilitated the sharing of such knowledge with others so that a wider group could contribute to problem solving.

Help-seeking and-giving analytics should not be used for performance-monitoring and evaluation of individuals, especially by people who have higher rank in organizational hierarchy. So the access to such forums should be restricted  by job levels to increase the trust of sharing.  People are very aware of who is ‘watching’ or monitoring when they share ideas with others, and there is a need for ‘safe enclaves’.

In voluntary participation in a virtual community, such as open source software movement, participants may gain future financial rewards through the development of their skills and knowledge. The open-source projects like Linux confer highly valued benefits such as reputation and peer esteem.

Brown and Duguid  (1998) suggest using organizational translators – namely individuals who can frame the interests of one community in terms of another community’s perspective to support cross-community learning.  The actions taken by the ‘translator’ in Compound UK were to open up a forum, both face-to-face and electronic, within which the knowledge and perspectives of experts from different communities could be more effectively exchanged.


Exploring factors that influence knowledge sharing behavior via weblogs

T.-K. Yu et al. / Computers in Human Behavior 26 (2010) 32–41


In this paper i found the questionnaire and the model for why people share.



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