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I have been working on an academic project that involves analyzing social websites or encouraging contribution and Stack Overflow is one the sites that I'm looking at. Given the number of times I used SO to find solutions, I felt like I needed to give something back.

I know SO has the data-dumps and I think those are a good resource to do some investigation.

So I'm wondering what kind of queries one can run to get some idea about what encourages contribution on Stack Overflow. I think looking at badges and reputations is a good start but I need some help formulating some queries either to run on my own computer or StatOverflow or StackQL if that comes back.

Anyway, so all levels of help is really appreciated. It can be just a pointer, or actual query and the result or some pointers to such analysis made by other people.

Thanks a lot in advance to all!

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This sounds like an interesting project. However, I'm not sure what kinds of data you could get that shows that a particular site feature (e.g. badges) positively encourage competition, because there is no data set to objectively compare to. The closest you could get to that is to examine the data for months before a particular feature was added, and then see how behaviour changes afterward. However, the SO userbase is not static; as the number of users, questions and answers grows every month, the amount of activity goes up as well, so I'm not sure what statistical growth you could see as differentiated from the "normal" rate of growth.

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