When Amazon started its website in 1995, it was meant as a place to build a community of like-minded souls, pooled together by the passion for books (Pinch and Kesler, 2011). In this context, selling books wasn’t the only point of Amazon. The mission was to recreate the atmosphere of local bookstores, where customers feel “at home” and receive advice. Amazon wanted to offer specific suggestions for books, exactly as local bookstores do. So, professionals were hired to write book reviews. In accordance with the idea of building a community, Amazon encouraged members to write their own reviews, sharing opinions and feelings. Then, Amazon realized users were indeed providing reviews of the books for free, and they could provide many more reviews than paid editors. So, Amazon dismissed his professional editors, and let users do all the work. But why would users do that?
Malone et al. (2010) indicate three main motivating factors, namely love, glory and money. All three factors play a role here, even though to different extents.
– Love: is the most important factor. People write review because they love the product, for enjoyment, to help others, and to develop a sense of community.
– Glory: since Amazon ranks its reviewers, a part of the motivation to write a review lies in desire for glory. The more helpful reviews you write, the higher in the rankings you will find yourself.
– Money: top reviewers are often sent products. The higher you are in the rankings, the more likely you are to get freebies.