Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 39 Number 4 2022 pp. 1037-1063

How Appreciation and Attention Affect Contributions to Electronic Networks of Practice

Tan, Xue (Jane), Jin, Fujie, and Dennis, Alan R


We conducted three studies to examine how two types of user-generated feedback, appreciation and attention, affect users’ decisions to make voluntary knowledge contributions to electronic networks of practice (ENPs). Appreciation is reflected in positive ratings, votes, and helpfulness evaluations. Attention is reflected in the number of views of contributed content. The first study used clickstream data from a college application ENP in China, where information seekers can read posted information asynchronously and request synchronous consultations with volunteers. The second study was a controlled online experiment in the United States where we assessed users’ willingness to answer questions in a college application ENP asynchronously. The third study examined knowledge contribution across a diverse set of topics using a well-established ENP that serves more than 100 countries. In all three studies, the results consistently show that greater appreciation increased continued knowledge contribution, but greater attention without sufficient appreciation negatively affected contributions. Our findings show the theoretically intertwined nature of attention and appreciation and offer insights for the design and management of ENP feedback systems to encourage user contributions.

Key words and phrases: Electronic networks of practice, ENP, online communities, online feedback, incentive design, online knowledge contribution, online volunteerism