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Rewarding the Community

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Session Room: Table 6

Title: Rewarding the Community

Time Slot: 4:30PM Saturday

Organizer: Adam Lasnik <adam at the domain lasnik.net>

Note Taker: Richard Esplin <richard.esplin@alfresco.com>

What do you give away, and how:

  • Stickers and t-shirts to people who have deployed the software, as a thank you, but contingent on having deployed the software
  • Forum rank / badge to top forum members. Group unanimous voting by moderators based on post history and helpfulness.
  • Surprise free ipod for top contributor on IRC channel
  • Provide more responsibility / administrative empowerment to active contributors with good reputation. Multiple levels of gradual power. Promotion or demotion had to be by unanimous vote. Access levels are related to consistent participation, otherwise become inactive.
  • Access to additional features in the forums
  • Reputational badges to identify who is a verified expert / contributor
  • Inside access, relationships with the company
  • Treating someone as a peer contributor
  • Belonging / shared values / ability to reach out to one another
  • Listed on credits list (participation in twice-a-year translation campaign)
  • Handwritten thank-you notes / hand-signed photo
  • Access to additional events that help build relationships.
  • 10 year member badges in online profile
  • Access to the engineers
  • Platform to share with others: speaking opportunities, writing for corporate blog,
  • Special tours / field trip with knowledgeable docents (computer history museum)

Why recognize people:

  • Thank people, make them feel valued and happy to participate.
  • Encourage others to participate for similar recognition.

Dangers:

  • Giving a reward could change behavior by creating an incentive system that is problematic
  • Creating an expectation of rewards could lock you in to continuing the system
  • Don't want to replace intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivation
  • Don't want to create classes of contributors, paid vs volunteer doing the same task
  • Money can be a significant de-motivator if it changes expectations around a task
  • Rewards can create strange incentives, like rushed work instead of quality work
  • Once you get on a treadmill of gift-giving, it gets hard to get off the treadmill

Take-Aways:

  • Stormy Peters' presentation: Would you do it again for free?
  • Dan Pink: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
  • Need to maintain a clear sense of fairness
  • Intermittent awards can be a better motivator
  • Rewards mechanisms will need to be different in different communities (or community segments) around the world
  • Different motivations require different rewards
    • Long term desire to contribute and see the project grow (more relationship based)
    • Short term desire to scratch an itch and move on with your life (more transactional)
  • Kickstarter seems to leverage multiple types of rewards because the most successful projects leverage a community

Action Items:

  • None

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