Crowds and Communities: Light and Heavyweight Models of Peer Production

Haythornthwaite, C. (2009). Crowds and communities: Light and heavyweight models of peer production. Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference On System Sciences. Received from

Argues dimensions of task interdependence, authority control, and group focus underpin behaviors. Results in “lightweight” behaviors (weak-tie) and “heavyweight” behaviors (strong-tie)

Understand operation of internet based collaboration enterprises
Answer questions:
* What is the optimal structure for contributory practices?
* How should social and technical systems be designed to promote contribution and participation?

Commons-based peer production (Benkler)

Crowdsourcing: gaining inputs from many, unknown and unconnected contributors

LWPP (Lightweight peer production): large set of contributors each of whom provides minimal addition to the product whole. Contributors have little commitment. Allows for many people participating. Appeal to procedure and rules. Straightforward contribution, easy to learn rules. Overall: Individual, discrete, pooled contributions, recognized on lightweight quantitative assessment of contributions.

HWPP (Heavyweight peer production): commitment and attention and action from contributors. Wants to sustain the direction and viability of the community. Equal attention to product and operation. Long term activity. Participants turn to other participants and contributions to determine their own contributions. Require greater learning. Overall: Long-term commitment to common cause and community functions with contributions differentially valued through member assessments

Distinguishing types
Primary: Contribution Type, Granularity, Authentication
Secondary: Individual to group focus
Third: Recognition, reputation, and reward.


Provides input for design of systems that follow the models.


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