For many, the old saying “do unto others...” now applies to the web as much as it does the offline world. New research by TalkTalk, the phone, broadband and mobile company, has found that online forums and communities are powered by the good nature of just 5.2 million Brits. Whilst just under half of the population (42%) regularly ask questions online and read people’s answers, only one in ten actually share their skills and knowledge with others.
In the absence of financial gain, such communities, forums and social media websites are run mainly on karma: almost half (44%) of those who answer questions or post advice say they do so because they themselves might need help in the future. Two-in-five (41%) cite a feel-good factor as the reason to help others, whilst a quarter (24%) say it’s their duty since they have specialist knowledge.
The study, which supports the launch of TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards, identifies four groups which Britons have a pre-disposition to belong to:
§ Givers: who mainly give advice online (14%);
§ Fishers: who mainly ask questions of the community (13%);
§ Sharers: who act as signposts directing others to answers (6%); and
§ Spongers: who absorb information from previously resolved issues (67%).
Karma vs kudos
Perhaps surprisingly, the TalkTalk research shows the noble few are more likely to be male. Almost a quarter (24%) of men who use such sites to exchange information are ‘Givers’ or ‘Sharers’, compared with just 17% of females.
Yet when it comes to the reasons behind helping others, almost half of women (49%) say they are seeking good karma. Men on the other hand, are more likely to driven by the kudos of being seen as an expert (30% compared with 19%) or to gain a high website ranking (8% compared with 4%).
You can find out more information on TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards, working with Citizens Online, and how to enter at digitalheroes.talktalk.co.uk/. Entries are welcomed until 11th September 2011.