Backloggery is an excellent example of a social network encouraging user commitment. According to Bateman, Gray and Butler (2011), commitment is a psychological bond that describes a person’s relationship to a community. In the case of Backloggery, this type of bond is affective commitment.
Affective commitment is a generally positive emotional connection to a community, which causes members to want to further the interests of that community as well as developing an attachment or feelings of belonging or identification (Bateman, Gray & Butler, 2011). Backloggery does this through its central theme; it is a social networking site that focuses on users listing video games that they own, and whether they have beat them to completion or have left them unfinished. The point of the site is to encourage its users to keep track of and complete unfinished games. It allows self-identified gamers to connect with other gamers, while showing (or showing off) their achievements as a gamer, almost as a sign of status.
Bateman, Gray and Butler state that “online communities produce immediate benefits in direct proportion to effort invested,” (2011). In the case of Backloggery, other users can see a person’s updates as soon as they are posted, with those updates also automatically contributing to an individual profile’s statistics (such as number of beaten/completed/unfinished games) as well as entire site statistics (such as most played consoles/systems). In their research paper, Bateman, Gray and Butler put forward the hypothesis “A member’s level of affective CC [Community Commitment] towards a community will positively influence the number of replies he or she posts in that community.” In the specific case of Backloggery, this could apply to the amount and frequency of new games added to a person’s account. This is not necessarily reflective of the number of games a person actually plays, but the dedication towards wanting to update their profile to display their gaming habits.
The type of commitment associated with Backloggery can be defined even further as identity-based commitment because of the focus on gaming as a main theme. As stated above, members can identify themselves as gamers; a particular sub-culture with a well-defined shared interest and similar attitudes. However, elements of bonds-based commitment have been personally experienced by myself as the site was introduced to me by several of my friends, who encourage the use of Backloggery and use it a way of challenging themselves, or setting challenges for each other.
Bateman, P. J., Gray, P. H., & Butler, B. S. (2011). The impact of community commitment on participation in online communities. Information Systems Research, 22(4), 841-854. Retrieved from http://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/pdf/10.1287/isre.1090.0265