Overview of encouraging effective contribution

A number of projects around the lab fall under the general category of encouraging effective contributions to group websites and goods. This might include helping people realize they can make contributions, motivating them to want to contribute more, and/or making it easier for them to contribute.

There are openings here for students who are interested in doing recommendation work around Regulation Room or possibly around SuggestBot. Mail DanCo if you're interested.

Active: (Faculty) Dan Cosley
  1. Malu, M., Jethi, N., Cosley, D. (2012). Encouraging personal storytelling by example. iConference 2012 poster. [PDF] [Publisher]
Regulation Room

RegulationRoom is designed to encourage public participation in rulemaking, the process by which administrative agencies such as the Department of Transportation make new regulations about topics from airline compensation to texting while driving. Although in theory anyone can participate by contributing useful facts, perspectives, experiences, or arguments related to proposed new rules, in practice the process is dominated by antagonistic vested interests. RegulationRoom's goal is to help the public be aware of the impact and importance of rulemakings, to educate people about specific rulemakings, and to help them make effective, useful contributions to the federal agencies through the RegulationRoom website.

This involves a number of sub-activities, including using social media to drive awareness, translating troublesome legalese into more comprehensible and individual elements, to help people understand, and providing guided moderation and facilitation to help them write better comments and engage with other people and positions. We recently got funding to do some work around adapting work around recommender systems, information retrieval, sentiment analysis, and effective moderation and facilitation to coach people and expose them to relevant content while they are commenting. The idea is a little bit like how Facebook Questions gives suggestions for writing effective answers as you create them. This is super-important for improving comment quality, especially since many visitors to the site (and to sites in general) only ever come once, so it's hard to do long-term training.

Active: (Faculty) Dan Cosley (Phd) Amit Sharma, Elizabeth Murnane
Past: (Undergraduate) Dan Spector (Staff) Thomas Hogenhaven
  1. Farina, C. R., Newhart, M., Cardie, C., Cosley, D. (2011). Rulemaking 2.0. University of Miami Law Review. 65(2) [PDF] [Publisher]
  2. Farina, C. R., Newhart, M., Miller, P., Cardie, C., Cosley, D., Vernon, R. (2011). Rulemaking in 140 Characters or Less: Social Networking and Public Participation in Rulemaking. Pace Law Review. [PDF] [Publisher]

Recommender systems are another example of leveraging behavior and helping people manage information. Using consumption and preference information that people already provide or are willing to provide cheaply, they can help people find new information to explore, as with MovieLens. This raises a number of issues, starting with making accurate predictions for individuals, but quickly moving into a number of interesting HCI issues such as recommending for groups, helping new users enter the system, evaluating the effectiveness of recommendations, and understanding how those recommendations bias users.

We can use recommendations to do more than help individuals manage their own information overload problems. Karau and Williams' collective effort model predicts that people will be more motivated to contribute to a group good if you reduce their cost of doing so. This leads to the idea of intelligent task routing--asking people to help a community by recommending specific tasks they're likely to already know how to do or likely to enjoy doing. This work was developed as DanCo's dissertation, working with Dan Frankowski, John Riedl, and Loren Terveen, culminating (so far) in the SuggestBot tool he wrote for Wikipedia, reported in an IUI 2007 paper [PDF] [ACM DL].

There is still much to do under this umbrella: understanding how to use other theories of how people become attached to groups to make more sophisticated and varied recommendations (of people, of projects, and so on). We'd still like to find students who want to work on this. If you want to help, send DanCo an email.

Active: (Faculty) Dan Cosley
  1. Warncke-Wang, M., Cosley, D., Riedl, J. (2013). Tell Me More: An Actionable Quality Model for Wikipedia. WikiSym 2013. [PDF] [Publisher]
  2. Black, L. W., Welser, H. T., Cosley, D., DeGroot, J. M. (2011). Self-Governance Through Group Discussion in Wikipedia: Measuring Deliberation in Online Groups. Small Group Research. 42(5):595-634. [PDF] [Publisher]
  3. Cosley, D., Frankowski, D., Terveen, L., Riedl, J. (2007). SuggestBot: Using Intelligent Task Routing to Help People Find Work in Wikipedia. Proceedings of IUI 2007. [PDF] [Publisher]