How Do Peer Awards Motivate Creative Content? Experimental Evidence from Reddit
58 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2020 Last revised: 4 Jan 2021
Date Written: September 15, 2020
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: Suggested Citation