As part of a homework for a Social Web course, I had to consider factors that research showed had an effect on user contribution on social websites (contribution can be anything from commenting, to rating, to making edits on a wiki page), and link them with popular design patterns used for crafting the user experience for such websites.
We primarily looked at the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library and tried to enhance patterns with more details, rationale for why they work, and more importantly, back our claims with credible references.
I didn’t find an equivalent design pattern in Yahoo’s library for the method of encouraging contribution that I was thinking of. I’ve seen this pattern used a lot on the Internet. I thought it might be good to give it some rigor and analyze why it works, in what situations it would work well, and how can it be improved. Below is the description of the Community Activity Awareness design pattern that I proposed (yes I know, I’m not good with names). The gist of the pattern is “When providing a user with the opportunity to contribute to the website, show information about how other users have responded (positively) to that particular contribution action”.