[Air-L] user generated content, motivation to post

Murray Turoff murray.turoff at gmail.com
Tue Feb 2 16:41:41 PST 2010

The rather old concept of human "exchange theory" which roxanne wrote up in
"the network nation" was very good at expressing participation in discussion
threads where when one wrote something the fact that they got replies
encouraged them to contribute more comments.   Exchange theory would also
state that the reward of gaining status as an expert for the contributions
made to dealing with problems would also be a coin of exchange.  In networks
of collaborative groups it is clear that a contribution will get payback
based upon the number of other collaborators.   We also found when in those
days we could measure the time a person spent in a single conference or a
message list that they would tend to sign on often enough to get like seven
+- two new items.  The more active the discussion the more frequent they
would sign on.   when there was much less they would wait to sign on for
longer periods and this lead to the observation of critical mass needed to
keep a discussion going.   Also at some point information overload sets in
when they cannot sign in often enough to keep up with the flow.
This was in the paper that roxanne and i did some years back for cacm (i
think 1981) on "information overload."

In delphi one of the most important motivations to get professionals to
participate is to make sure they know they are going to be collaborating
with a peer group where they may get more feedback of useful information
than they will have to put in.   Sometimes we let participants know who is
in the group even if it is anonymous with respect to entries.   That is I
feel a good motivation for professional message lists and when one starts
getting too many requests for information verses contributions of
information or too many announcements of paper requests i tend to lesson my
activity in the message list.

i did a study a year back on information seeking behavior of professionals
in emergency management and as a result, i published recently through
springer a paper on a recommender system design for communities of practice
based upon some of the above areas including Delphi design.  i can send it
to anyone interested.  The original study for NLM (on my website) was not
allowed to incorporate any solutions to the information seeking behavior
problems of emergency management professionals.  But if you read the 60 page
raw appendix of their actual text answers to our open ended questions the
solutions become clear and in the paper i later published.   The original
inquiry was a one round delphi on information seeking behavior and problems
using a snowball sampling and open ended text questions in a word file we
sent people.

By the way people who make comments but never get replies tend to stop
making comments.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Information Systems, NJIT
homepage: http://is.njit.edu/turoff

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