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Gender consideration in the design of online knowledge-sharing Q&A platforms

Online knowledge-sharing Q&A platforms are valuable sources of learning; however, they do not welcome individuals from different gender groups equally. For example, game features to motivate users' participation, or prevalent communication norms do not similarly affect individuals with different gender identities. In this thesis, we focus on investigating how interface design might aid in promoting a more welcoming and inclusive atmosphere on Q&A platforms such as Stack Overflow. Through an online survey, we investigate how incentive systems used by Q&A communities affect men's and women's motivations to participate. In addition, we present the design and evaluation of a visible social feedback mechanism for inclusion in a Q&A platform to create a more welcoming environment. We explore users' perceptions of this mechanism's potential benefits and drawbacks through an exploratory interview study. Our findings suggest that compared to the men in our study, the women were more open to additional social feedback on Stack Overflow, finding it a potential solution to make Stack Overflow more welcoming. We discuss envisioned benefits of incorporating social feedback into content-focused Q&A platforms and draw attention to the importance of values embedded in the design of game features in such platforms.


Mahya Maftouni. Gender consideration in the design of online knowledge-sharing Q&A platforms. MSc Thesis (2022). University of Manitoba, Canada.


Mahya Maftouni

Mahya Maftouni

MSc Student