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Where is the love?

When it comes to social-networking behemoth Facebook, you don’t have to look far to find the love.  Users write sugary messages like, “miss you xoxo,” on friends’ walls; they compliment pictures; and they hit the “like” button as if it’s click competition.  Research has shown that such positive interaction produces oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” in users, meaning the feelings are real, even if the platform is virtual.

But what about other community-sourced sites?  Are they oozing with affection and adulation?  Not necessarily.

On Wednesday, Wikipedia will launch WikiLove to encourage more positive interactions among editors.  The initiative, which has been in beta testing, allows contributors to post friendly comments along with images of barn-stars, beers or kittens to the editor’s discussion page.  The 10-year-old online encyclopedia found that editors who had received negative feedback were 69 percent less likely to continue contributing.  Conversely, users were 78 percent more likely to increase their load after being praised.

The WikiLove initiative will include a small heart as a way to offer positive feedback to various editors.  This feature hearkens back to blogging platform, Tumblr, which also utilizes a heart button.  Founder David Karp designed Tumblr to foster an appreciative environment by allowing for re-posts rather than comments, which can veer toward sarcasm and criticism.  Additionally, Twitter encourages friendly decorum through retweets, @ mentions and recommendations like #FF (Follow Fridays).

Given these successes, Wikipedia seems poised to join the be-friendly-feel-good league.  However, it is possible that the little red heart button will go largely ignored.  After all, Wikipedia is no Facebook.
Nicole Duncan
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