Crowdsourcing, Attention and Productivity

10 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2008 Last revised: 5 Aug 2014

Date Written: September 12, 2008


The tragedy of the digital commons does not prevent the copious voluntary production of content that one witnesses in the web. We show through an analysis of a massive data set from YouTube that the productivity exhibited in crowdsourcing exhibits a strong positive dependence on attention, measured by the number of downloads. Conversely, a lack of attention leads to a decrease in the number of videos uploaded and the consequent drop in productivity, which in many cases asymptotes to no uploads whatsoever. Moreover, uploaders compare themselves to others when having low productivity and to themselves when exceeding a threshold.

Keywords: digital commons, social attention, productivity, crowdsourcing

JEL Classification: E23,C92, D70, D83, M37

Suggested Citation

Huberman, Bernardo A. and Romero, Daniel M. and Wu, Fang, Crowdsourcing, Attention and Productivity (September 12, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Bernardo A. Huberman (Contact Author)

CableLabs ( email )

400 W California Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
United States

Daniel M. Romero

Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Bristol ( email )

United Kingdom

Fang Wu

HP Labs ( email )

Palo Alto, CA 94304
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics