[Air-l] how to measure participation rates

Charlie Breindahl hitch at hum.ku.dk
Wed Dec 3 07:45:42 PST 2003


If you're looking at USENET newsgroups, you might want to take a look at the
social accounting search engine "NetScan" at

I successfully used the muscle of their automated newsgroup participation
statistics for a recent study I performed; "Discussing Our Family Trees:
Finding Community-Based Communication in Genealogical Newsgroups".  I used
the Common Ground Model of Whittaker, Terveen, Hill, and Cherny (1998), and
the Online Community (OC) Model of Scoberth, Preece, and Heinzl (2003), to
test for online community - the NetScan database statistics worked
fabulously well (though I did also use some manually collated stats for some
specific OC tests).         

I studied four years of data for the newsgroup in my study, which had over
123,000 posts during that period.


Kylie Veale  |  Brisbane, Australia

GradDipInvEnv, MInetStds [2003]

email:   kylie at veale.com.au 

www:    http://casa.de.veale.com.au
www:    http://www.veale.com.au/kylie

-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-admin at aoir.org [mailto:air-l-admin at aoir.org] On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, 3 December 2003 1:42 AM
To: air-l at aoir.org
Subject: [Air-l] how to measure participation rates


As part of my study of an online community I have to measure the
participation rates among participants, in a way similar to Nancy Baym's in
her classic study of the r.a.t.s online community. From my participation and
observation of this particular community so far, it is obvious to me that
most of the messages are contributed by a small group of heavy users.
However, I need to quantify it, measure it and present it as a table
containing percentages of posters and posts contributed. My question is how
can I do it? What is the method of measuring these rates? Does it simply
consist in noting down how many messages each member writes? Prima facie
that may look like an easy procedure but once starting to do it it turns out
to be extremely difficult since this online community is made up of more
than 20 conferences each one comprising more than 50 different topical
discussions. Overall the number of messages written every week is enormous.
Any ideas on how I can measure overall participatio rates of such an

Thank you, 

K. Diamantaki 

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