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Users of social computing websites are both producers and consumers of the information found on the site. This creates a novel problem for web-based software applications: how can website designers induce users to produce information that is useful for others? We study this question by interviewing users of the social bookmarking website del.icio.us. We find that for the users in our sample, metadata reflecting who bookmarked a webpage better supports information seeking than free-form keyword metadata (tags). We explain this finding by describing differences in the way that the design of del.icio.us motivates users to contribute by providing personal benefits for bookmarking and tagging.
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