How Do Peer Awards Motivate Creative Content? Experimental Evidence from Reddit

58 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2020 Last revised: 4 Jan 2021

See all articles by Gordon Burtch

Gordon Burtch

Boston University - Questrom School of Business

Qinglai He

Arizona State University

Yili Hong

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business

Dokyun Lee

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business

Date Written: September 15, 2020

Abstract

We theorize peer awards’ effects on the volume and novelty of creative user-generated content (UGC) produced at online platform communities. We then test our hypotheses via a randomized field experiment on Reddit, wherein we randomly and anonymously assigned Reddit’s Gold Award to 905 users’ posts over a two-month period. We find that peer awards induced recipients to make longer, more frequent posts, and that these effects were particularly pronounced among newer community members. Further, we show that recipients were causally influenced to engage in greater (lesser) exploitation (exploration) behavior, producing content that exhibited significantly greater textual similarity to their own past (awarded) content. However, because the effects were most pronounced among new community members, who also produce content that in general is systematically more novel than that of established members to begin with, this process yields a desirable outcome: larger volumes of generally novel UGC for the community.

Keywords: Peer awards, user-generated content, novelty, Reddit, text-mining, field experiment

JEL Classification: C93, H41, M31, M52, J46

Suggested Citation

Burtch, Gordon and He, Qinglai and Hong, Yili and Lee, Dokyun, How Do Peer Awards Motivate Creative Content? Experimental Evidence from Reddit (September 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3701259 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3701259

Gordon Burtch (Contact Author)

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Qinglai He

Arizona State University ( email )

Tempe, AZ
United States

Yili Hong

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-6021
United States

Dokyun Lee

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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