Patterns of appreciation by Wikipedia members offer an opportunity to understand the dynamics of two different forms of social media gratitude- the quick click WikiThanks for individual edits vs a direct expression of WikiLove to an individual.
PhD student at the MIT Media Lab Center for Civic Media, Nate Matias (html) describes an research effort (html) to study motivations and impact of two different forms of gratitude that occur within the community of WikiPedia members.
WikiLove is a message of appreciation sent between any two people with a Wikipedia account. To send WikiLove, navigate to someone’s User page, click the heart button, select the type of WikiLove you want to send, add a message, and send the note. The receiver will receive a notification via email and the Wikipedia notification system.
Generating a WikiThanks means that a sender has gone to a user’s home page in WikiPedia, and compose a short message, similar to writing a comment on a blog. It is an individualized expression of gratitude; while not difficult, it does take more effort than WikiThanks.
WikiThanks are more closely associated with individual edits that individual users. To send a thanks, view the edit history of an article, find an edit you especially like, and click the “thanks button.” The receiver will be notified of your appreciation.
Thus a WikiThanks is closer to a Like/Favorite in other social media platforms; the act is quickly done through a mere click, but is also associated with a specific action a person has done rather than associated with the person.
They experimented with the WikiPedia API and were able to accumulate a data set of almost 10,000 expressions of WikiLove and WikiThanks, and presented a preliminary discussion of a possible further research effort (Presentation).
The Wikipedia dataset is one of the largest measurable collections of gratitude in a community anywhere, and by studying it, we might be able to learn more about how thanks functions in creative communities, especially in relation to our sense of self-efficacy, reputation, and social worth.
Preliminary network graphs from their hackathon effort indicate differing dynamics between WikiThanks and WikiLove.
See Also Attribution vs Credit