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Ordeal by Innocence: The Perils of Nudging Users into Engagement in Online Communities

Time:2019-11-19 10:54:22  Hits:[]
It is vital for online user-generated content platforms to cultivate a user base that actively generates new content. This paper investigates the possibility of using nudges to encourage user engagement in UGC platforms by examining the impact of a standard nudge on user behaviors. Collaborating with a large online UGC platform, we nudge its users into contributing their opinions. Specifically, we activate a comment box if a user watches a video for more than 5 seconds, virtually inviting the user to comment on the video. Surprisingly, we find that users exposed to this nudge provide no more comments than those who are not. Worse, they become even less engaged: they like online content less often, log into the platform less frequently, and spend less time on it. Further analysis suggests that the negative impact happens only for users with links to other major social platforms. Moreover, users with better control of their privacy respond favorably, supplying more comments and becoming more engaged. These results lend support to privacy concerns being a potential mechanism for the (in) effectiveness of this nudge. Our research thus provides the first evidence for nudging being an operable approach to motivate users on UGC platforms.
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