Out with the old, in with the new? Unpacking member turnover in online production groups

Bowen Yu, Xinyi Wang, Allen Yilun Lin, Yuqing Ren, Loren Terveen, Haiyi Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Nearly any group is subject to turnover: some people leave, while others join. Turnover can be especially high in online groups, since participation typically is strictly voluntary. We investigated the effects of member turnover in online groups, specifically in Wikipedia's Wiki Projects. We based our studies on theories from organizational science, which suggest that it is not just the amount of turnover, but the characteristics of those leaving and those joining that matter. We characterized leavers and newcomers by their prior productivity, tenure (in the group or community), and participation in other groups within the larger community. Furthermore, we considered the moderating effect of group size on turnover. We analyzed data from 88,427 editors who participated in 1,054 WikiProjects, finding that (1) the positive effects of newcomers to a group were larger than the negative effects of leavers, (2) prior productivity, tenure, and participation in other groups all played significant roles, and (3) the effects of leavers and newcomers were amplified in larger groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Group performance
  • Group size
  • Leavers
  • Membership turnover
  • Newcomers
  • Online communities
  • Online groups
  • Peer production
  • Wiki projects
  • Wikipedia


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