***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** 1. De-Lurking in Virtual Communities: A Social Communication Network Approach to Measuring the Effects of Social and Cultural Capital Sheizaf Rafaeli, Gilad Ravid, Vladimir Soroka http://csdl2.computer.org/comp/proceedings/hicss/2004/2056/07/205670203.pdf Abstract The a-symmetry of activity in virtual communities is of great interest. While participation in the activities of virtual communities is crucial for a community's survival and development, many people prefer lurking, that is passive attention over active participation. Often, lurkers are the vast majority. There could be many reasons for lurking. Lurking can be measured and perhaps affected by both dispositional and situational variables. This project investigates social and cultural capital, situational antecedents of lurking and de-lurking. We propose a novel way of measuring such capital, lurking, and de-lurking. We try to figure out what are the triggers to active participation. We try to answer this by mathematically defining a social communication network of activities in authenticated discussion forums. Authenticated discussion forums provide exact log information about every participant's activities and allow us to identify lurkers that become first time posters. The proposed Social Communication Network approach (SCN) is an extension of the traditional social network methodology to include, beyond human actors, discussion topics (e.g. Usenet newsgroups threads) and subjects of discussions (e.g. Usenet groups) as well. In addition the Social Communication Network approach distinguishes between READ and POST link types. These indicate active participation on the part of the human actor. We attempt to validate this model by examining the SCN using data collected in a sample of 82 online forums. By analyzing a graph structure of the network at moments of initial postings we verify several hypotheses about causes of de-lurking and provide some directions towards measuring active participation in virtual communities. 2. WIRED FROSH: A Case Study of Electronic Community Building in a Freshman Dorm Richard Holeton, Stanford University http://www.stanford.edu/~holeton/wired-frosh/ ABSTRACT While "virtual communities" have been studied as separate entities, only recently have we had the chance to observe the social effects of new technologies in face-to-face (f2f) living groups. With increasing dependence on computer-mediated communication (CMC) in fully-wired college residences, critics fear that students are becoming more isolated. But CMC also has the potential to complement and extend f2f forms of interaction, to become a tool for building, rather than destroying, social relations. In a case study of a Stanford University dorm e-mail list, I will analyze how college students who live together use and perceive electronic discussion in the context of other community-building tools.* :* CONCLUSION Despite prominent gender disparities in participation and the heavy proportion of discussion carried on by a small core group of participants -- on the list overall and for critical dialogue especially -- the dorm e-mail list was a very valuable medium for community-building. Residents found the list useful for a wide variety of social purposes, from housekeeping to negotiating group norms, discussing political issues, and grieving for a dead friend. Not just core group members, but lurkers and shy people as well benefitted from a substantial amount and impressive quality of critical dialogue (i.e., discussion of social, political, and dorm community issues). The e-mail list was very valuable for particular individuals who found ways to work out personal tensions, feelings, and growth partly through this medium, in turn becoming part of and benefitting the community as a whole. See especially: "Core Group," "Regular," and "Lurker" Participation by Student Residents on E-mail List http://www.stanford.edu/~holeton/wired-frosh/wired-11.html 3. Shedding light on Lurkers in Online Communities. In Ethnographic Studies in Real and Virtual Environments: Inhabited Information Spaces and Connected Communities. Nonnecke, B. and Preece, J. http://tinyurl.com/eotz2 4. SOCIAL ROLES IN ELECTRONIC COMMUNITIES Scott A. Golder and Judith Donath, Sociable Media Group, MIT Media Laboratory http://tinyurl.com/z8ocp Individuals’ behavior in groups is constrained by several factors, including the skills, privileges and responsibilities they enjoy. We call these factors a social role, and explore using the concept of social roles as an analytical tool for studying communities in Usenet newsgroups. Our understanding of what roles are and how they function is derived from sociolinguistics, social psychology, and the ethnography of communication. We conducted an observational study of several Usenet newsgroups and, from the collected data, constructed a taxonomy of roles, with which we analyzed social interactions and their impact on newsgroup communities, especially how communities change over time. : Another widely-recognized role is the Lurker, the participant who reads a newsgroup’s conversations, but does not participate himself. As discussed in the section on the Newbie, a FAQ will often suggest that a new participant lurk for a time before participating, in order to learn about the group and prevent socially inappropriate behavior. However, lurking is not simply a stage in the life of a Newbie that is completed when one begins to post messages; lurking, for many reasons, is a strategy that can be sustained for as long as one wants. : To address the perceived problem of Newbies’ lack of communicative competence and common ground, many newsgroups with FAQs will advise new participants to “lurk” for some time before participating. Lurking is the practice of reading the newsgroup’s conversation without participating oneself. For the new participant, time spent reading before participating serves as a socialization period, intended to teach him or her, by example, the expectations of the newsgroup. The principle at work is the “law of social proof,” which states that, “we view a behavior as correct . . . to the degree that we see others performing it” (Cialdini 2001). It is through observing others that we learn how to behave ourselves. 5. WHY LURKERS LURK Blair Nonnecke, Maptuit Corporation, Toronto; and Jenny Preece, Dept. of Information Systems, Baltimore http://tinyurl.com/e8wcl The goal of this paper is to address the question: ‘why do lurkers lurk?’ Lurkers reportedly makeup the majority of members in online groups, yet little is known about them. Without insight into lurkers, our understanding of online groups is incomplete. Ignoring, dismissing, or misunderstanding lurking distorts knowledge of life online and may lead to inappropriate design of online environments. To investigate lurking, the authors carried out a study of lurking using in-depth, semi-structured interviews with ten members of online groups. 79 reasons for lurking and seven lurkers’ needs are identified from the interview transcripts. The analysis reveals that lurking is a strategic activity involving more than just reading posts. Reasons for lurking are categorized and a gratification model is proposed to explain lurker behavior. 6.Motivating Content Contributions to Online Communities: Toward a More Comprehensive Theory Steven J. J. Tedjamulia, David R. Olsen, Douglas L. Dean, Conan C. Albrecht http://csdl2.computer.org/comp/proceedings/hicss/2005/2268/07/22680193b.pdf " ... Several studies have observed and surveyed OCs to find out why, for how long, and to what extent people participate [7, 8, 23–25]. OC users participate in several different ways [7, 18]. The first and most prevalent type of participant browses OCs and consumes information but does not contribute. The second type of participant is the one who does not find the specific type of information he or she wants and ventures to ask the community a specific question. These two types of participants are called “lurkers.” Several OC observations have indicated that lurkers represent 80–90% of an OC’s population [9, 18]. Lurkers play a key role in the value provided by OCs by consuming useful information; they also ask questions that trigger contributions from others...." 7. Electronic Communities as Intermediaries: the Issues and Economics Ai-Mei Chang, P. K. Kannan, Andrew B. Whinston http://tinyurl.com/qnhd8 from the abstract: "...In this paper, we explore the role of e-communities as intermediaries in exchange relationships among community members and between community members and other interest groups such as marketers and advertisers from an economic perspective. In particular, we focus on the types of interactions that take place among community members and between community members and other interest groups and examine the economic issues involved in maintaining a healthy community. Deriving parallels from extant research in intermediation, we explore conditions and incentive mechanisms under which such communities could thrive on the Internet. We also draw on limited empirical examples from the World-Wide-Web in support of our hypotheses." _____________________________________________________________________ SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.