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“What do you recommend a complete beginner like me to practice?”: Professional Self-Disclosure in an Online Community

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CSCW scholarship has previously addressed how professionals use digital technologies for learning and communication, but limited attention has been paid to professional self-disclosure on social media. Acts of self-disclosure—intentionally revealing personal information to others—are often considered beneficial for communication and formation of relationships, and describing the role of disclosure in professional communication is important to advance CSCW research that focuses on occupations or organizational settings. In this paper, we present a mixed-methods study of professional self-disclosure in an online community focused on user experience design (UX), documenting how acts of self-disclosure may support professional development. We found that self-disclosure was frequently used as an effective rhetorical and content-focused strategy to provoke discussions and request assistance with the goal of developing or maintaining professional competence. Through the identification of these self-disclosure strategies, we discuss professional self-disclosure in relation to professional identity development in online communities.

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“What do you recommend a complete beginner like me to practice?”: Professional Self-Disclosure in an Online Community

  1. 1. YUBO KOU Florida State University “WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND A 
 COMPLETE BEGINNER LIKE ME TO PRACTICE?” PROFESSIONAL SELF-DISCLOSURE IN AN ONLINE COMMUNITY COLIN M. GRAY Purdue University
  2. 2. EVOLVING DISCIPLINARY STATUS OF USER EXPERIENCE (UX) INSTANCE OF CREATIVE + PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION
  3. 3. “the act of revealing personal information to others” Sidney M. Jourard. 1971. Self-disclosure:An experimental analysis 
 of the transparent self. Oxford, UK: John Wiley. SELF-DISCLOSURE
  4. 4. /r/userexperience January 2016–February 2017 1790
 POSTS 11,373
 COMMENTS
  5. 5. 568
 POSTS Contained 
 self-disclosure 5,047
 COMMENTS Original
 corpus 1790
 POSTS 11,373
 COMMENTS • The personal information must refer directly or indirectly to a specific person (e.g., location of work and life, work experience, job title). • The information must be about the poster, not other persons that the poster was referring to. Self-disclosure occurred in 31.7% of all posts.
  6. 6. 1) What do UX professionals disclose about themselves in an online professional community? 2) How does self-disclosure take place in posts and comments? 3) How does self-disclosure support online professional communication?
  7. 7. 1. What do UX professionals 
 disclose about themselves in an 
 online professional community?
  8. 8. 568
 POSTS Contained 
 self-disclosure 5,047
 COMMENTS 1,222
 POSTS Did not contain 
 self-disclosure 6,326
 COMMENTS 100
 POSTS 100
 POSTS
  9. 9. 100
 POSTS 100
 POSTS 1,504
 COMMENTS AA academic background, professional background, employment information, biographical information, career plan, and self-perceived expertise.
  10. 10. 100
 POSTS 100
 POSTS 1,504
 COMMENTS AA academic background, professional background, employment information, biographical information, career plan, and self-perceived expertise. workplace experience 
 and emotional attachment +
  11. 11. 100
 POSTS 100
 POSTS 1,504
 COMMENTS AA 278
 COMMENTS
  12. 12. >20% FREQUENCY Academic Background 
 (P:41%; C: 25.7%) Professional Background 
 (P:44%; C: 31.3%) Employment Information 
 (P:27%; C: 20.4%) Career Plan 
 (P:29%; C: 11.2%) Self-Perceived Expertise <20% FREQUENCY Biographic Information 
 (P:8%; C: 6.8%) Emotional Attachment 
 (P:8%; C: 1.2%) Professional Connection 
 (P:0%; C: 0.6%) Work-Related 
 (P:0%; C: 2.2%) Self-Learning 
 (P:0%; C: 0.6%)
  13. 13. SELF-PERCEIVED 
 EXPERTISE +- POSTS: 32% COMMENTS: 7.8% POSTS: 4% COMMENTS: 16.4%
  14. 14. 2. How does self-disclosure take place 
 in posts and comments?
  15. 15. Competency: ways to improve UX competency: 
 e.g., “Good resources for mastering visual design” Collaboration: experiences of collaborating with others: 
 e.g., “As a visual designer, how should I be collaborating with a UX consultant?” Artifact: artifacts created by community members: 
 e.g., “I added new (ugly) filter buttons to an existing page.” Job: job-related issues such as stipend in the UX industry: 
 e.g., “Move to the Bay Area for a UX job? YES! ...if...” Knowledge: UX design knowledge and trends: 
 e.g., “22 Things New UX Designers Should know Before Entering the Workplace” Product: the UX of popular products such as iPhone: 
 e.g., “Taking a look at the iOS 10 lockscreen” Socialization: networking with other UX designers: 
 e.g., “UX/Dev Summit in Ft. Lauderdale early February 2016” Tool: tools for making artifacts: 
 e.g., “Anyone have a recommendation for a good, web-based card sorting tool?” POSTTHEMES
  16. 16. Seeking and Disclosing 24 7 20 22 9 2 3 6 Sharing and Disclosing 0 0 2 3 1 1 0 0 Seeking without Disclosing 5 1 16 7 3 2 0 9 Sharing without Disclosing 8 0 5 2 22 11 1 8 Competency Collaboration Artifact Job Tool Socialization Product Knowledge
  17. 17. Question answering (24.6%) is the most basic type of disclosure where the discloser answered a question by sharing personal information. Reciprocity (26.1%) describes a scenario where disclosure emerged in accordance with the flow of professional conversation between two interlocutors. Evidence-based reasoning (27.5%) includes scenarios where disclosure served as evidence for the discloser to make a point about UX work. Credibility-adjusting (16.7%) is a context where disclosure did not serve as a necessary logical link, but rather a means of increasing or decreasing the credibility of the discloser’s opinion. Empathy (5.1%) is a situation where people disclosed their own experiences, often negative ones such as frustrations and failures, to respond to others’ disclosure of similar experiences. COMMENT
 FUNCTIONS
  18. 18. 3. How does self-disclosure support online professional communication?
  19. 19. Min. Max. Mean Std. # of comments per 
 disclosing post 0 32 4.13 6.41 # of comments per 
 non-disclosing post 0 48 3.87 8.59 # of disclosing comments per disclosing post 0 16 2.12 2.82 # of disclosing comments per non-disclosing post 0 14 0.65 1.74
  20. 20. A disclosing post was significantly more likely to attract comments 
 (X2= 4.5041; p = .033815) A Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test did not suggest significant difference regarding the number of comments a post could attract 
 (z = 1.07998; p = .14007) IMPACT OF DISCLOSURE 
 IN POSTS ON COMMENTS
  21. 21. A Chi-Square test indicated that disclosing posts were significantly more likely to attract disclosing comments 
 (X2 = 12.2241; p = .000472.) A Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test similarly found that disclosing posts would attract a significantly higher number of disclosing comments 
 (z = 5.64301; p < .00001.) IMPACT OF DISCLOSURE
 IN POSTS ON DISCLOSING COMMENTS
  22. 22. DISCUSSION & IMPLICATIONS
  23. 23. DISCLOSURE 
 AIDING THE PROFESSION DISCLOSURE 
 INFORMING LPP DISCLOSURE BUILDING IDENTITY
  24. 24. DISCLOSURE 
 AIDING THE PROFESSION DISCLOSURE 
 INFORMING LPP DISCLOSURE BUILDING IDENTITY
  25. 25. DISCLOSURE 
 AIDING THE PROFESSION DISCLOSURE 
 INFORMING LPP DISCLOSURE BUILDING IDENTITY
  26. 26. YUBO KOU yubokou.info 
 ykou@fsu.edu COLIN M. GRAY colingray.me | uxp2.com 
 gray42@purdue.edu THANK YOU

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