[Air-l] how to measure participation rates

Kylie Veale kylie at veale.com.au
Wed Dec 3 14:12:54 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 environment? 
Thank you, 
K. Diamantaki 

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