Assessing the Social Network Health of Virtual Communities

Assessing the Social Network Health of Virtual Communities

David Hinds (Hinds & Associates, USA) and Ronald M. Lee (Florida International University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch304
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Abstract

In this chapter, the authors suggest how measures of “social network health” can be used to evaluate the status and progress of a virtual community. Using social capital theory as a foundation, the authors describe community health as the general condition of a community leading toward its advancement or decline, and show how social network analytical measures can be applied to existing virtual community archives to measure social network health. They describe the metric development and validation process and use their empirical study of 143 open source software project communities to illustrate how this process can be applied. Their hope is social network health metrics will be devised and integrated into host platforms for various types of virtual communities, thus providing socio-technical system designers and community managers with a valuable new diagnostic tool for tracking the status and progress of their communities.

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