How to Achieve Maximum Participation of Users in Technical Versus Nontechnical Online Q&A Communities?

Sohaib Mustafa and Wen Zhang
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 26, Number 4, 2022, pp. 441-471.


Low user participation in online questions-and-answers (Q&A) communities to contribute knowledge is a serious threat to the sustainability of online forums. This subject is rarely addressed in the context of content shared at these forums. Furthermore, no study has introduced solutions to reduce low participation exclusively considering participants’ age, gender, and education level. User participation in the online question and answer (Q&A) communities to contribute knowledge was mostly examined by applying variance-based methodologies using primary and secondary datasets. This study has targeted the asymmetrical relationship between variables to achieve users’ participation in technical and nontechnical knowledge-sharing communities. We have collected valid responses, 382 from nontechnical and 395 from technical knowledge-sharing communities, and applied fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to get various equally effective configurations. These configurations explain maximum users’ participation in sharing knowledge in online Q&A communities. fsQCA results have also revealed that to achieve maximum user participation and knowledge contribution in technical knowledge-sharing communities, a sense of reciprocation and online social interaction are the necessary conditions, whereas for nontechnical knowledge-sharing communities, online social interaction is the necessary condition. Study findings are important for online Q&A community managers to minimize low user participation and achieve maximum knowledge contribution in online communities.