Designing for (Local) Community


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A review of literature and technology to provide guidelines for designing online communities with an emphasis on local communities and neighborhoods.

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Designing for (Local) Community

  1. 1. Designing for (Local) Online Community Shelly Farnham, Ph.D. 2008
  2. 2. Community Defined <ul><li>&quot;I define &quot;community&quot; as networks of interpersonal ties that provide sociability, support, information, a sense of belonging, and social identity.” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Barry Wellman (2001). </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>“ A group of people who share a common interest or purpose; who have the ability to get to know each other better over time. There are two pieces to that definition. That second piece — getting to know each other better over time — means that there needs to be some mechanism of identity and communication.” </li></ul><ul><li>Amy Jo Kim (2001) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ 1) It is interactive and built on the concept of many-to-many communications ...; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2) It is designed to attract and retain community members who become more than superficially involved in community events ... and ... are able to make new friends through the community; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3) It has a single defining focus; ... (that) gives them a reason to return; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4) It provides services to community members, ... that meet community member needs; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5) It has, or has the potential to develop, a strong commercial element...“ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>From &quot;Towntalk ,&quot; a listserv on online community </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Socio-Cultural Context <ul><li>Social dissolution/individualism, lack of traditional community </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bob Putnam, “Bowling Alone” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Neo-tribalism, “Urban Tribes” </li></ul><ul><li>Use of Internet to access people, coordinate </li></ul>
  4. 4. Penetration of Online Communities <ul><li>84% of Internet users in U.S. participated in an online community (Pew 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Of these </li></ul><ul><ul><li>79% regularly with one particular group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>49% help connect with groups with shared interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>26% to contact or learn about local groups (28 million) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>16% use a social networking site (Pew 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>39% looked for a home (Pew 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>77% of home buyers used Internet (NAR 2005) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why Community Online? <ul><li>Geographical isolation/distance </li></ul><ul><li>Limited mobility </li></ul><ul><li>Weak ties, access to specialized knowledge or circumstances </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need sense of shared understanding/frustration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Similar others hard to find face to face </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Asynchronous interaction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Face to face not available all the time, hard to meet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Continuous access to support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>People who are available face to face bored with your preoccupation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Overcome social stigmatization </li></ul>anyone, anytime, anyplace
  6. 6. Glocalization <ul><li>Barry Wellman </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Help find others with similar interests no matter the distance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase contact with groups and people already know, feel more connected </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. What are people using discussion groups for? <ul><li>2001 MSN Communities Analysis </li></ul>Sample of 20K communites with more than 1 member.
  8. 8. How does type of group impact measures of community health? <ul><li>2001 MSN Communities Analysis </li></ul>Religious and social support communities especially interactive.
  9. 9. Online Support Communities <ul><li>Decrease worry, anxiety, depression </li></ul><ul><li>Information flow, exchange, storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>Group problem solving, insights </li></ul><ul><li>Trusted sources </li></ul><ul><li>Common social support topic: health </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Advice from peers with health experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve patient compliance with treatment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Info seeking improve decision-making </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>go to doctor able to talk intelligently about problems, have language for it etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>assess quality of their care </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Messages primarily informational vs. emotional? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>giving info (33.5%), </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>opinions (17.4%), </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>suggestions (7.3%), </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Socio-emotional (25.8%) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>From Maloney-Krichmar & Preece, In Kneeboard </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. HutchWorld <ul><ul><li>Provided Internet access and community support software to patients and caregivers following BMT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>#1 reason people used Internet was to interact with family and friends, not to meet other cancer patients/caregivers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access to Internet had buffer effect on feelings of loss of social support/life satisfaction following BMT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ It kept us connected on a daily basis to friends and family </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>which was extremely important.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ It gave me the feeling that I could connect with the outside </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>world. Cancer is very isolating and the computer broke that isolation.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Defining Elements of Online <ul><li>Distinctive Focus </li></ul><ul><li>Integrating content and communication </li></ul><ul><li>Appreciation for member-generated content </li></ul><ul><li>Access to competing publishers/vendors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(putting needs of community ahead of business) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sustainable </li></ul>Figallo
  12. 12. Attributes of Online Community <ul><li>Feel a part of larger whole </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of tapping into identity effects </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Web of relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing exchange </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships last through time </li></ul>
  13. 13. Communities as Intervention <ul><li>The minimal “intervention”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Define community boundaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tapping into personal identity, social identity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enable conversation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assessment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Measure community growth, participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Impact on neighborhood </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Designing for Sociability <ul><ul><li>Clearly articulated shared purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Governance, protocols </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spell out ground rules for appropriate behavior </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enforce </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Users good at self-regulation if have tools </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Blocking, ignoring, three strikes your out </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Contact for escalation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Evolve </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ritual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Welcome! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You’ve been promoted/you get an award! </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Designing for Sociability <ul><ul><li>People </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Profiles </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Roles </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Moderators </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Experts </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lurkers </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Approx 1% leaders, 19% participate, 80% lurkers </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Size </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Critical mass: number of people needed to make a community useful </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Too few not enough, too many overwhelmed </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion groups: 25 active participants take up all the air </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Plan for emergence of subgroups when it gets too large </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Designing for Sociability <ul><li>Group vs. network form of association </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sense of boundary, you are a member or not, better many to many communicaiton </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need for active communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Message board/mailing list </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commenting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Possible to shift from broadcast to one on one, public to private </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Narrow focus vs. broad </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tend to succeed with dense groups of similar others </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A sense of place: where do I go to find us? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Orient people around central home page type location (FAQ/wiki/discussion board for each neighborhood) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Light moderation/hosting of spaces, enable emerging leaders </li></ul>
  17. 17. Designing for Sociability <ul><li>Enabling transition from newbie to mentor </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Passing on “host” role </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness of newbie/mentor roles through activity metrics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Time in space </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Message activity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li># of stories/lessons posted </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Importance of First Impressions <ul><li>Need to see there is social interaction (social translucence) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>exchange/reciprocity shows interpersonal trust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shadows of social behavior: X members, amount recent activity, new story posts, best story </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Site trust building: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Post self-regulating policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy and security </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Editorial and advertising </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Source disclosure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Third party seal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Branding </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Integration with Email! <ul><ul><li>Importance of email to communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>91% of people email </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Of those who connect to groups online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>60% through email </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>33% email main local organization several times a week </li></ul></ul>Pew 2001
  20. 20. Discovery/Entry Points <ul><li>Search in system by topic and by person: important to find similar others </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search/show relevant demo factors (SES indicators through job, college, location) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Related interests </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Entry through invitation to join </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Invite friends/family/cohorts to view stories etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Link off of other community sites </li></ul>
  21. 21. Online Community General Concerns <ul><li>Access </li></ul><ul><li>Ease of use </li></ul><ul><li>Authentication/accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Commercialism and privacy </li></ul><ul><li>Safety and security </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad behavior in online spaces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Misappropriation of personal info </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Misinformation </li></ul>
  22. 22. Fostering cooperation <ul><li>Social dilemma/tragedy of the commons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual gain vs. collective good </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increasing cooperation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reputation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Will meet again </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Identification of behavior </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Record of past behavior </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media richness (social presence theory) </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Social Presence Theory <ul><li>How successfully media convey sense of others being physically present (also, Media Richness Theory) </li></ul><ul><li>Increase social presence with </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Verbal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visual, non-verbals, body language, SES </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Context (physical, social) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Impacts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>sense of emotion, intimacy, immediacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Development of common ground </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Achieving shared understanding </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Infer meaning from context </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Activation of pro-social norms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of social presence, increased aggression, decreased trust </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Reputation Systems Online <ul><li>Online interactions outside usual social constraints (disembodied) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identified behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>History of behavior over time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social context: face-to-face increases normative behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><li>People *will* break trust if not held accountable/ prosocial norms not activated by presence of others </li></ul><ul><li>Reputation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>History of past interactions informs current expectation of reciprocity or retaliation in future </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accountability, trust </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Reputation Systems -- Key Components <ul><li>Long-lived entities that inspire expectation of future interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Capture and distribution of feedback about current interactions </li></ul><ul><li>Use of feedback to guide trust decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Low incentive to provide feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People reluctant to provide negative feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensuring honest reports </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Types of Ratings <ul><li>Implicit Ranking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Time in system, frequency of visits, frequency of posts, etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Explicit Rating </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Weighted average, explicit rating of object of interest </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collaborative filtering </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People with similar rating patterns rate this highly, so you will probably like </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assumes high variability in preferences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Peer-based </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Filter implicit/explicit ratings by relevance to self in network (e.g. friend of friend) </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Importance of Types of Reputation Information From Jensen et. al 2002, N = ~330 Decision task: Study of use of reputation information to inform choice about whom to interact with
  28. 28. Importance of Types of Reputation Information From Jensen et. al 2002
  29. 29. Ebay
  30. 30. Slashdot
  31. 31. Netscan
  32. 32. Netscan
  33. 33. Netscan
  34. 34. Netscan <ul><li>Behavior of active users in Netscan (top 10%), from Brush et al. 2005 </li></ul>
  35. 35. WholeNote
  36. 36. Wholenote Ratings
  37. 37. Reputation System Design Implications <ul><li>Filter both content and reputation metrics by relevance to self -- emphasizing similarity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Often reduced overall average ratings the more information is exposed (voice, picture, profile information): indication of increased discrimination between good/bad, relevant content </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Include both implicit and explicit ratings/rankings </li></ul><ul><li>Expect explicit ratings to be positively biased, so “absence of positive” matters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ratings per hit rate for example meaningful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Count of ratings overall </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Binary votes: e.g. “useful” or not </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Metrics at both level of content and level of author important </li></ul><ul><li>Rate comments as well as content </li></ul>
  38. 38. Reputation System Design Implications <ul><li>Assessing a person’s/story’s reputation with “others like me” – localized reputation </li></ul><ul><li>Under the hood assessment of “trustability” of raters, use to influence their influence on aggregate scores, search results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recency in system, deviance, claimed home, explicit ratings (ratings of raters) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use interaction history with content to normalize ratings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>% of positive ratings out of # of people read/hit vs. simple average </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Search results, able to change sort by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Overall ranking/ratings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ranking/rating in my network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Similarity/relevance to me </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Date updated/posted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Author </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. People Access Local/Neighborhood Communities Online? <ul><li>41% often/sometimes go online for info about local stores/merchants </li></ul><ul><li>35% often/sometimes for news about local community/community events </li></ul><ul><li>24% often/sometimes to get info about local schools </li></ul>Pew 2001
  40. 40. Local Communities Online? <ul><li>% of Internet % who </li></ul><ul><li>Users belong to: email: </li></ul><ul><li>Church, synagogue, mosque 44% 43% </li></ul><ul><li>Social club or charitable organization 30% 56% </li></ul><ul><li>Community group/neighborhood association 22% 52% </li></ul><ul><li>Youth group 22% 43% </li></ul><ul><li>Sports 20% 38% </li></ul><ul><li>Other 14% 51% </li></ul>Pew 1991
  41. 41. Netville study: what did they talk about? <ul><li>Discuss interests of common concern (home construction) </li></ul><ul><li>Requests for help or advise (e.g. recommendation for a local doctor) </li></ul><ul><li>Advertise garage sales, local crafts/services </li></ul><ul><li>Invitations to community events </li></ul><ul><li>Messages offering such things as job info </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>Home renovation </li></ul>
  43. 43. <ul><li>“ flavor” </li></ul><ul><li>Streets </li></ul><ul><li>Art </li></ul><ul><li>Bars/restaurants </li></ul><ul><li>Shopping </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Crime </li></ul><ul><li>Politics </li></ul>
  44. 44. <ul><li>Community </li></ul><ul><li>New </li></ul><ul><li>Events </li></ul><ul><li>“ talk </li></ul><ul><li>view </li></ul><ul><li>Live” </li></ul>
  45. 46. <ul><li>Personalization look and feel </li></ul>
  46. 47. <ul><li>Crime feeds </li></ul>
  47. 48. <ul><li>Places with drink deals </li></ul>
  48. 49. <ul><li>People </li></ul>
  49. 50. <ul><li>Stats: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Demographics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crime </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Economy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weather </li></ul></ul>
  50. 51. <ul><li>Cost of living </li></ul>
  51. 52. <ul><li>apt </li></ul><ul><li>ratings </li></ul>
  52. 53. <ul><li>Map overlay </li></ul><ul><li>Pick and choose </li></ul>
  53. 55. <ul><li>Neighborhood meetup </li></ul>
  54. 56. <ul><li>classifieds </li></ul>
  55. 57. <ul><li>photos </li></ul>
  56. 58. <ul><li>boundaries </li></ul>
  57. 59. <ul><li>Places people like </li></ul>
  58. 60. <ul><li>Recommendations </li></ul>
  59. 61. <ul><li>Recommendations </li></ul>
  60. 62. <ul><li>Activity in network </li></ul>
  61. 63. <ul><li>Activity in blog network </li></ul>
  62. 64. <ul><li>People </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion, </li></ul><ul><li>Photos, </li></ul><ul><li>Listings, </li></ul><ul><li>Events, </li></ul><ul><li>Reviews, </li></ul><ul><li>Requests </li></ul><ul><li>Related Groups </li></ul>
  63. 65. Conclusions/discussion <ul><li>Defining primary target users and their common purpose #1 task of any community tool </li></ul><ul><li>Group boundaries (location/neighborhood) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasis! Identification with neighborhood </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunities to meet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community language: Join, Welcome, Member! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communication features </li></ul><ul><li>Foster emergence of leaders (reputation metrics, most active/featured member slot) </li></ul><ul><li>Seed content, model communities, model neighborhoods </li></ul>