Participation Lifecycles in Online Communities (Fall 2008 - Fall 2011)

online communitiesDate: Fall 2008 - Fall 2011

Funding: $449,515
National Science Foundation (CSE Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Division of Information & Intelligent Systems, Human-Centered Computing Program)

Authors: Cliff Lampe, Nicole Ellison

Online communities come and go, as do the people in them. However, little is known about how these processes occur. Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, TOIL researchers are looking at issues that include why people leave sites, motivations to contribute between anonymous and registered users, whether asking for specific contributions will cause people to contribute more and a host of other issues looking at lifecycles on membership in online communities, and then the lifetimes of the communities as well.

Our researchers currently employ methods of server log analysis, surveys, and interviews to explicate the character, quantity, and rate of contributions by members of online socio-technical systems. This approach of examining micro-level user motivations combined with the technique of assessing group-level data is allowing direct inquiry to how firms can incentivize positive contribution and retain valuable individuals that improve the community as a whole.

Furthermore, TOIL researchers are partnered with industry groups to access longitudinal data and examine nearly a decade-long record of interaction between thousands of users; this partnership allows examination of ways to best nurture new communities, maintain them, and prevent decay of large or established groups.

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