[Air-l] gini coefficients for measuring participation?

Maximilian C. Forte mcforte at kacike.org
Wed Dec 3 14:10:29 PST 2003

Just a brief question here concerning the following item:

> If the metric is low your group is pretty
> egalitarian, if the metric is high you have a clique generating most of
> content.  The metric would be most meaningful if you could compare it to
> another group's metric, so if you did this over several sample periods,
> could say whether the distribution of message posts was getting more or
> egalitarian / elitist as the list was evolving.

Is the definition of egalitarianism and elitism being used here purely a
quantitative concept? Or, would one argue that the actual amount of messages
generated by a single individual determines the fact that the person has
become part of a dominant elite in a newsgroup?

I am not sure about the conclusions one could draw from numbers alone, it
seems very open ended. One may be extremely lonely and thus seeking
attention in posting a large number of messages. One may be a determined
spammer, and be reviled by the newsgroup, a case where a large number of
messages actually influences the group's perception of one's 'low status'
within the group. In very limited experience of my own, those actually seen
as the dominant elite members of a list often lurk, rarely responding or
posting, and often ignoring the many 'vocal' attempts by some members to
drag them into debates. When these elite members do post, the messages often
show careless indifference in construction, multiple spelling errors,
strange accidental capitalizations midway through a word (almost as if to
say, "I'm not used to typing, my secretary normally does that.").

What do you think?



Dr. Maximilian C. Forte
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Anthropology and Sociology
University College of Cape Breton
1250 Grand Lake Road
P.O. Box 5300
Sydney, NS B1P-6L2, Canada
E-mail: max_forte at uccb.ca
Faculty Web page: http://faculty.uccb.ns.ca/mforte/
Office B.273
Telephone: 902-563-1947

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