Explaining Participation in Online Communities

Explaining Participation in Online Communities

Petter Bae Brandtzæg (SINTEF and University of Oslo, Norway) and Jan Heim (SINTEF, Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch103
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The last few years have seen a substantial growth in online communities such as MySpace and Facebook. In order to survive and increase in size, online community systems must enhance social interaction and participation. This chapter analyzes participation in new online communities, using a combination of the socio-technical perspective and the human-computer interaction perspective. In 2007, both qualitative and quantitative data was collected from questionnaires from five sample groups in Norway—four popular online communities and one national sample of Internet users. The results show that online communities attract like-minded people, but vary in terms of different user types. Most visitors have a clear social purpose, but the level of participation differs with respect to user types and community characteristics. Participation in terms of user-generated content (UGC) differs greatly, depending on the medium used. Most users do not contribute audio-visual UGC, and text is still the main UGC. Possible future research and socio-technical design implications are discussed.

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