In the absence of financial gain, such communities, forums and social media websites are run mainly on karma: almost half (44%) of those who answer questions or post advice say they do so because they themselves might need help in the future. Two-in-five (41%) cite a feel-good factor as the reason to help others, whilst a quarter (24%) say its their duty since they have specialist knowledge.
The study, which supports the launch of TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards, identifies four groups which Britons have a pre-disposition to belong to:
- Givers: who mainly give advice online (14%);
- Fishers: who mainly ask questions of the community (13%);
- Sharers: who act as signposts directing others to answers (6%); and
- Spongers: who absorb information from previously resolved issues (67%).
Karma vs kudos
Perhaps surprisingly, the TalkTalk research shows the noble few are more likely to be male. Almost a quarter (24%) of men who use such sites to exchange information are Givers or Sharers, compared with just 17% of females.
Yet when it comes to the reasons behind helping others, almost half of women (49%) say they are seeking good karma. Men on the other hand, are more likely to driven by the kudos of being seen as an expert (30% compared with 19%) or to gain a high website ranking (8% compared with 4%).
|Reason for giving and sharing||Proportion of male Givers and Sharers that say its a contributing factor||Proportion of female Givers and Sharers|
that say its a contributing factor
|Makes me feel good||41%||41%|
|Someone specifically asked me to||26%||24%|
|I feel compelled as I have specialist knowledge||30%||19%|
|To enter a prize draw||16%||14%|
|To get a high website ranking||8%||4%|
- On average, Givers and Sharers log on twice a day to post answers and advise others where to get information.
- Someone goes onto the web once every six seconds to give or share information with others.
- Scots are the most generous with their time. Over a quarter (28%) consider themselves Givers or Shares, almost twice as many as in those in the South East (15%).
Proportion that are givers or sharers
Yorkshire and Humber
East of England
People are more likely to become Givers in their middle years. 45 is the age when people tend to answer more questions and post more links than they ask for, or receive, help.
Forums are the most popular type of site for people to exchange information on (57%). Facebook is the second most popular site with 44% of people using it to give or receive advice; however Twitter languishes behind in last place with just 15% of people using it for this purpose.
Type of website
Proportion of those who use the web to exchange advice that use the type of site