All talk: How increasing interpersonal communication on wikis may not enhance productivity

Sneha Narayan, Nathan Teblunthuis, Wm Salt Hale, Benjamin Mako Hill, Aaron Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Prior research suggests that facilitating easier communication in social computing systems will increase both interpersonal interactions as well as group productivity. This study tests these claims by examining the impact of a new communication feature called “message walls” that allows for faster and more intuitive interpersonal communication in wikis. Using panel data from a sample of 275 wiki communities that migrated to message walls and a method inspired by regression discontinuity designs, we analyze these transitions and estimate the impact of the system’s introduction. Although the adoption of message walls was associated with increased communication among all editors and newcomers, it had little effect on productivity, and was further associated with a decrease in article contributions from new editors. Our results imply that design changes that make communication easier in a social computing system may not translate to increased participation along other dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Interpersonal communication
  • Newcomers
  • Peer production
  • Wikis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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