A large portion of previous research on knowledge sharing in virtual community focuses on organization-sponsored professional virtual communities (PVC) while nowadays numerous nonwork- related virtual communities are gaining popularity. This study investigates the phenomenon of knowledge sharing in one popular type of non-work-related virtual community, online question and answering community. Anchoring on the self-determination theory, this study identifies three types of motivations to share knowledge in the community. Particularly, rewards in reputation system, which we further divide into rewards for quantity and for quality, are classified as extrinsic motivation; learning is classified as internalized extrinsic motivation and enjoy helping is classified as intrinsic motivation. Moreover, while previous studies tend to hold a monolithic view of knowledge contribution, this study regards quantity and quality as two important parts of knowledge contribution and argues there are different underlying mechanisms leading to them. Therefore we investigate the effects of the three motivations on quantity and quality separately. An online survey with 367 participants was conducted in a leading Chinese online question and answering community to test the research model. Results show that the motivational factors do have different effects on quality and quantity of knowledge contribution. While rewards in reputation systems for quantity can effectively enhance knowledge contribution quantity, rewards for quality do not lead to high quality knowledge contribution. Learning is revealed as a crucial motivational factor in this context as it is positively related with both aspects of knowledge contribution. Finally, enjoy helping is weakly related with knowledge contribution quality and strongly associated with knowledge contribution quantity. Both theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


online question and answering community, motivation, knowledge contribution quantity, quality


ISBN: [978-1-86435-644-1]; Full paper