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When Online Communities Become Self-Aware

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Title: When Online Communities Become Self-Aware
Authors: Gazan, Rich
Keywords: Online social networks
Question-answering systems
Issue Date: 2009
Citation: Rich Gazan (2009). When Online Communities Become Self-Aware. Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-42), 5-9 January 2009, Waikoloa, HI.
Abstract: Evidence from a long-term participant observation suggests that a critical point in the evolution of an online community occurs when participants begin to focus less on topical content and more on one another. When content restrictions were removed from a question answering community and social technologies were introduced, the proportion of factual content on the site steadily diminished in favor of more social content: questions specifically about site users and appropriate behavior, suggesting an awareness of themselves as a community. Positive effects of self-aware behavior included increased site participation, social support and open normative debates. Negative effects included increased conflict, rogue behaviors and factionalism.
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