A matter of reevaluation: Incentivizing users to contribute reviews in online platforms

Mingyue Zhang, Xuan Wei, Daniel Dajun Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Content sharing platforms such as product review websites largely depend on reviewers' voluntary contributions. In order to motivate reviewers to contribute more, many platforms established incentive mechanisms, either reputation-based or financial. Yet most of the existing research has focused on reputations that are everlasting, such as badges and virtual points, or financial rewards where no evaluation exists about the users' contributed content, such as rebates. There is still a significant gap in our understanding of how incentives with reevaluation mechanism actually influence reviewers' behaviors such as their contribution levels, the opinion they express, and how they express. In this paper, we fill this gap using data collected from Yelp Elite Squad where reviewers with good reviewing history are awarded into the elite group and most importantly reevaluated each year. We draw from the accountability theory and conduct a difference-in-differences analysis to empirically study the effect of incentives with reevaluation mechanism on reviewers' behaviors in both short term and long term. The results show that in short term, reviewers significantly increase their contribution levels, become more conservative with lower percentage of extreme ratings, and also increase the readability of their reviews. In long term, they continue improving the quality of reviews though their numerical rating behaviors stabilize. Our research has significant implications for business models that rely on user contributions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113158
JournalDecision Support Systems
StatePublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Accountability
  • Incentives
  • Product reviews
  • Reevaluation mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems and Management


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