cheng-comtella - Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii...

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User Motivation and Persuasion Strategy for Peer-to-peer Communities Ran Cheng MADMUC Lab Department of Computer Science University of Saskatchewan rac740@mail.usask.ca Julita Vassileva MADMUC Lab Department of Computer Science University of Saskatchewan jiv@cs.usask.ca Abstract In recent years, peer-to-peer systems have become more and more popular, especially with some successful applications like Napster and KaZaA. However, how to motivate user participation in peer-to-peer systems remains an open question for researchers. If few users are willing to participate in the community or make contributions to it, the peer-to-peer system will never become successful. To address the problem, this paper proposes a motivation strategy based on persuasion theories of social psychology. The main idea is to introduce a set of hierarchical memberships into p2p communities and reward active users with better quality of services. We have applied this strategy to a p2p system called Comtella and launched a study to test its effectiveness. The results of the study show that our motivation strategy is capable of stimulating the users to participate more actively and make more contributions to the community. 1. Introduction Peer-to-peer (p2p) systems have become more and more popular in recent years. Some applications have proved to be successful, for example, Napster, KaZaA, eDonkey and most recently, BitTorrent. Since peer-to-peer systems are a kind of decentralized distributed systems, their reliability is usually superior to the traditional server-oriented systems. However, in a p2p system, there are no powerful servers which provide various services or information for the clients. All the users of the system are equal peers, which act as both servers and clients. They are expected to contribute resources, enabling the system to provide benefits for individuals. If few users are willing to participate in the community or make contributions, the p2p system will never become successful no matter how excellent the technology it applies is in terms of protocol, efficiency, performance, etc. According to Preece’s Online Community Framework [1] online communities (including p2p user communities), should include four key components: “people, purposes, policies and software”. A p2p application, called COMTELLA [2], has been implemented at the MADMUC Lab at the University of Saskatchewan. It is built on JTella, a Java API for the Gnutella network, and enables a community of researchers and students to share and exchange resources, such as research papers. Although the system was mature in terms of technique, it could not provide good service because the number of active participants was small. Moreover, some participants were free riders who typically started their client application only when they needed some paper and quitted immediately after finding it (or not finding it). Consequently, there were few people simultaneously online and the probability of users finding
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cheng-comtella - Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii...

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