Sustaining Community:
The role and design of incentive mechanisms in online systems

Workshop at Group 2005
November 6, 2005
Sanibel Island, FL USA

Jason B. Ellis, Christine A. Halverson, Thomas Erickson
IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, USA
Address correspondence and questions to:

» Workshop final report is available here

The Basic Idea
The workshop will be divided into 4 sessions. The first 3 sessions will each start off with a panel of workshoppers, who will each give 10 minute mini-presentations based on their position papers, followed by approximately an hour of discussion in each case. We will, of course, try to capture the ideas that emerge during the first three sessions, and will then devote the fourth session to producing a synthesis of what we've learned.

Note: More detail on the start-stop timing of the workshop will be provided here in the next few days.

To Do's
This structure leads to the following to dos:

  1. Everyone is expected to have read all workshop position papers before the workshop.
  2. For each position paper, the author(s) is expected to do a single 10 minute presentation (details below)
  3. Those who are on the same panel are expected to have an in-depth understanding of papers in their session, so that they can ask provocative questions, comment on commonalities, or make other connections with their fellow panelists work.
Mini-Presentation Structure
The aim here is very simple: We want to remind people of the key elements of the position paper, and then pave the way for some interesting discussion by making provocative claims or posing questions for the other panelists or the workshop in general. So the mini-presentation should have the following structure:
  1. Describe your community (if you discussed several in your position paper, please choose one)
  2. Discuss how incentives work (or fail to work in it), what makes it sustainable (or presents a challenge to sustainability)
  3. Make some claims, or pose some questions for other panelists,
We are going to STRICTLY LIMIT presentations to 10 minutes to ensure there is time for discussion.

Below is a provisional plan for how we will organize the workshop. Note that putting a paper in one session doesn't mean that it isn't relevant to other sections...

8:45-10:30am -- Session 1: Explicit Incentive Mechanisms
Rationale: In the first workshop session, we're going to focus on three position papers that all, in one way or another, deal with communities in which some of the incentives have been made explicit.

10:50-Noon -- Session 2: Implicit Incentives I
Rationale: The remainder of the position papers involve systems in which incentives are implicit; that is, they are not built into and computer by the system per se. For the second session, we've chosen two papers whose authors have different theoretical takes on how to understand sustainable communities. While we will continue the work of trying to understand how incentives play out in these systems, our hope is that we can also manage to discuss different theoretical frameworks for grappling with incentives

2-3:30pm -- Session 3: Implicit Incentives II
Rationale: We continue with the rest of the position papers. The communities in this session share a sort of public service focus, in that they reach out to a broad set of constituents, and have an element of public service. In this section, we will continue our investigation of incentives, hopefully building on what we've developed in previous sessions.

3:50-5pm -- Session 4: Synthesis and Wrap Up

For more background on the workshop, see Sustaining Community at the Group 2005 website.