Engagement Economy is a research report by Jane McGonigal about a problem we know all to well: how to make sure that people don’t just read, or like or +1 an idea or a page and start contributing.

We think that MicroContribution might help us turn a NonContributor into an OccasionalContributor and eventually into CommunityMember. Jane McGonigal approaches this from a game design angle and discusses the following points instead:

  1. “contributing to large-scale group projects is a fundamental part of happiness” – “to trade on this desire by being clear when talking to the crowd about what good thing, exactly, will be accomplished through their participation”
  2. “culture of generosity” – “an economy of feelings, in which positive emotions—pride, curiosity, love, and feeling smart—are the ultimate reward for participation”
  3. regarding the power-law distribution of contributions (a small number of users are super active while the vast majority shows minimal contribution) – “all-stars are performing for the barely active users, and enjoying the experience of leading the moderately active users”
  4. “a pyramid of participation that engages participants interested in achievement, social experience, and immersion in an entertaining experience can help engage the multiple types of participants required in order to achieve the range of passion, as well as the broad spectrum of perspectives, skills, talents, and resources necessary to accom- plish the project’s goal”
  5. “Flow […] is defined as the happiness we experience when we are fully engaged in something, when we are marshalling our resources and receiving feedback that we are making progress toward a goal.” – “any crowdsourcing or mass collab platform that fails to provide the ingredients of flow—immediate feedback, clear objectives, visible failure states, and a staged series of challenges—will fail to achieve maximum possible engagement.”
  6. “The minute a project becomes boring, a community member may redirect their participation bandwidth to something more engaging and they might never return. […] Empowering the community to invent their own tasks or missions is a common design technique for large MMOs and virtual worlds, allowing the community to create a workload that far exceeds what the developers could create on their own, thus growing to be self-sustaining.”


Recommended reading. 20 pages excluding front matter and end notes.

EditNearLinks: OccasionalContributor NonContributor CommunityMember