Olson’s Paradox Revisited: An Empirical Analysis of Incentives to Contribute in P2P File-sharing Communities
This article aims to examine how the size of file-sharing communities affects their functioning and performance (i.e. their capacity to share content). Olson (1965) argued that small communities are more able to provide collective goods. Using an original database on BitTorrent file-sharing communities, our article finds a positive relationship between the size of a community and the amount of collective goods provided. But, the individual incentives to contribute slightly decrease with community size. These results seem to indicate that Peer to Peer file-sharing communities provide a pure (non rival) public good. We also show that specialized communities are more efficient than general communities to promote cooperative behavior. Finally, the rules designed by the administrators of these communities play an active role to manage voluntary contributions and improve file-sharing performance.
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