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Abstract

In recent years we have witnessed a significant growth of social-computing communities—online services in which users share information in various forms. As content contributions from participants are critical to the viability of these communities, it is important to understand what drives users to participate and share information with others in such settings. We extend previous literature on user contribution by studying the factors that are associated with various forms of participation in a large online photo-sharing community. Using survey and system data, we examine four different forms of participation and consider the differences between these forms. We build on theories of motivation to examine the relationship between users' participation and their motivations with respect to their tenure in the community. Amongst our findings, we identify individual motivations (both extrinsic and intrinsic) that underpin user participation, and their effects on different forms of information sharing; we show that tenure in the community does affect participation, but that this effect depends on the type of participation activity. Finally, we demonstrate that tenure in the community has a weak moderating effect on a number of motivations with regard to their effect on participation. Directions for future research, as well as implications for theory and practice, are discussed.