Hansen ASIST '07


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Slides from a presentation I gave at the ASIST annual conference based on the paper titled "Virtual Community Maintenance with a Collaborative Repository" (see http://www.si.umich.edu/~presnick/papers/asist07/hansen.pdf for a preprint).

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Hansen ASIST '07

  1. 1. Virtual Community Maintenance with a Collaborative Repository Derek L. Hansen, Mark S. Ackerman, Paul J. Resnick, & Sean Munson 6/23/08 ASIST 2007, Social Computing and Information Science
  2. 2. Outline  Social challenges of virtual community conversation  Site, data collection, & methods  Wiki repository meets threaded conversation  Conclusions Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  3. 3. Backstory Empirical study of technical support community addressing question: How is activity organized to leverage threaded conversation and a wiki repository? How does the introduction of a wiki repository influence community maintenance? Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  4. 4. Social Challenges of Virtual Community Conversations Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  5. 5. Environmental Conditions  Anonymity (or semi-anonymity)  Loose boundaries  Text-only  Numerous participants  Voluntary paticipation Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  6. 6. Social Challenges  Meeting needs of newcomers & oldtimers  Keeping discussion on-topic  Motivating participation  Encouraging “respectful” behavior (e.g., trimming quotes; checking archives for FAQs)  Flaming, trolling & other hostile behaviors Dery 1993; Kollock & Smith 1996; McLaughlin et al. 1995; Burnett & Buerkle 2004 Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  7. 7. Partial Solutions  Administrators & welcomers  Netiquette & community policies  Social norms  Reputation systems  FAQ documents Butler et al. 2002; Preece 2000; Preece 2004; L-Soft, Inc. 2003; Kim 1999; Powazek 2002; Maloney-Krichmar & Preece 2005 Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  8. 8. A Different Perspective How does a change in a community’s information environment affect the social processes related to community maintenance? Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  9. 9. Symbiotic Relationship Hansen’s Dissertation 2007 Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  10. 10. Technical Feature Comparison Threaded Wiki Conversation Repository  Threads  Hyperlinked  Permanent  Editable  Single author  Many authors  Short, basic text  Structured, formatted text
  11. 11. Site, Data Collection, & Methods Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  12. 12. CSS Code /* css-discuss Wiki Stylesheet */ body { background-color: #fff; color: #000; font-size: small; font-family: georgia, serif; } a:link { color: blue; background: transparent; } a:visited { color: navy; background: transparent; } …
  13. 13. CSS-D Email List  Started Jan 2002 (1,000 → 7,000+ members)  Focuses on practical use of CSS  Over 50 messages a day  Public, searchable list archive Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  14. 14. CSS-D Wiki  Started 8 Months after email list  Described as a “shared repository,” “user-defined FAQ,” the “collective wisdom of this list,” and a “dumping ground for [CSS] tricks.”  Steady increase in popularity (15,000 unique hits in 2004 to 70,000 in 2007)  Over 550 pages  Has had consistent, slow growth Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  15. 15. Administration  Formally recognized administrators  In-depth community policies  Friendly & professional tone  Core members help enforce rules  Emphatic about welcoming newcomers “css-d is meant for beginning and experienced authors both, but I’m actually more interested in helping out the beginners” - admin Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  16. 16. Data  Email list messages (over 90,000 messages)  Posts that reference the community wiki and list archives  Posts that include “ADMIN” in subject line  Interviews - 14 phone, 7 email  Wiki page history  Wiki server log reports Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  17. 17. Methods  Content Analysis  Grounded Theory approach  Genre analysis  Coded all wiki (1,511) & archive (302) messages  Interviews conducted throughout process to inform preliminary findings  Quantitative analysis of participation  Feedback from community on findings Glaser & Strauss 1967; Giddens 1986; Eisenhardt 1989; Orlikowski 2000 Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  18. 18. Community Repository Meets Threaded Conversation Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  19. 19. Repository Contributions  Social maintenance  “holy wars”  off-topic discussion  Attracting & retaining members  Saving face  Saving time Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  20. 20. Shutting down a “holy war” Email 1 of 17 in Thread Subject: Comments Requested on website.com I have recently launched the *beta* version of my new blog at website.com. There are no graphics yet, Threadlayout 23 in place. I'd like to get some public feedback Email 16 of 17 in but the (sent is hours later) on the display. Do you notice any browser-specific quirks? Is the text too small? Special things you might list will look at: If there is one thing this want to never, ever make possible, it’s a final resolution to the Font Sizing Holy War. This is why we established a Wiki page that gives 1) Contactgood jumping off point for code, which has been modified to work with people a page uses my CSS Forms reading up on various perspectives: Mac IE 5. A BIG THANKS to Jason Park… http://css-discuss.incutio.com/?page=FontSize The next time the war breaks out, let’s just refer each other to that page and move on to discussions of a less religious nature. If there are non font sizing comments to make about website.com, let’s get back to making those—otherwise, I think it’s time to move on. Thank you. -- John Jones [personal URL], List Administrator
  21. 21. Preventing a “holy war” Since I *know* this could turn into an opinion bashing spam hate-war argument flame arena... ... Please do NOT respond to the list. Instead, please respond to me directly and, as I said, I will be happy to include my findings in the Wiki. Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  22. 22. Dealing with Off-Topic Discussions Unfortunately, I'm going to have to call this thread to a close for being off- topic. Yes, it's true that choosing a standards-friendly CMS has bearing on CSS authoring... but so does writing standards-friendly PHP code, JavaScript, .Net code, etc. etc. If we walk down that road, traffic could quite easily double. We can't cover everything standards-related here; there simply isn't room. A great place to ask your question would be Webdesign-L. There's also evolt's thelist, and I'm sure there must be other venues where CMS discussions are on topic. For a short list of forums, see [URL for OffTopic wiki page]. On the topic of CMS software, see the page others in the thread have brought up: [URL for CssFriendlyCms wiki page]. Thanks, and sorry to have to end the thread. [admin signature] Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  23. 23. Social Maintenance Facilitators  Advanced page structure  NPOV social norm  Editability by everyone  Use of wiki for off-topic (but related) content permissible  Wiki also helps focus discussion (e.g. IE7) 74 cases where wiki was used to help offload discussion because it was a “holy war” or off-topic vs. 3 cases where archives were used Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  24. 24. Attracting New Members  10 times more visitors to wiki than community members  Over half of visits are from search engines (44%) or other websites (18%), sources likely to bring in new members  Visitors typically taken to wiki sub-page  Persistent URLs with changeable content Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  25. 25. Educating Newcomers The penny dropped about why CSS was a good idea only last Friday, but since then, thanks to running across css-discuss Wiki site early on, I am learning quickly. I am bowled over by this excellent site - valuable information, clear presentation, helpful people and I love the idea of Wiki... Thank you all for the time you have already taken to share your hard won knowledge with me. Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  26. 26. Saving Face So I don’t want to sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about or I’m a stupid newbie or something like that. So, yah, I try to find the answer myself first, if I can, then at least I try to be fairly knowledgeable on how to ask the question without looking too stupid. The wiki was referenced 4 times as often to help ask a question than the archives Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  27. 27. Retaining Old-timers  Perception of reduction in FAQs  Ease of answering questions  Facilitates peripheral participation The wiki was useful in “encouraging long-term members like me to stick around, since we can move FAQs to the wiki and don’t have to be bored or frustrated by those threads as often.” The wiki was referenced 6 times as often to help answer questions than the archives Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  28. 28. Facilitating Factors  Close association with the wiki and email list (e.g., referencing behavior)  Persistent URLs with editable content Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  29. 29. Conclusions Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  30. 30. Summary “The art of community maintenance is, in part, a problem of designing information collections and information flows.” A wiki repository can be helpful in dealing with  “Holy wars”  Off-topic content  Attracting and welcoming newcomers  Retaining oldtimers Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  31. 31. The Current State of the Art Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08
  32. 32. Thanks to…  Mark Ackerman, Paul Resnick, & Sean Munson  National Science Foundation Derek L. Hansen, UMD 6/23/08