International Journal of Web Based Communities (8 papers in press)
Special Issue on: Channeling Sense of Community
A survey on Topological properties, Network models and Analytical measures in detecting Influential nodes in Online Social Networks
by Ebin Deni Raj, Dhinesh Babu L D
Abstract: There has been a surge in the usage and spread of online social networks in the last few years. This paper focuses on online social networks, which is the most prominent complex network in the modern world. People use online social networks for making friendships, learning, for entertainment and to review product items. This expanded impact of online social networks has prompted the rise of a research area named online social network analysis .This paper reflects research aspects detecting influential nodes in online social networks with respect to topological properties, network generation models and analytical measures in online social networks. We have clearly presented the concepts, issues and future research directions in the influential node detection in online social network analysis. The factors and conditions for the evolution and growth of online social networks and the pre- requisites for generating a random graph for simulation of online social networks have been discussed. The paper gives a clear picture on the relation between computation of influential users and the properties, models and measures in online social networks.
Keywords: Online social network analysis; topological properties; random graph generation; Influential nodes; Network measures.
Social media influence on purchase intentions: Instrument validation
by Lauren E. Reiter, Roger McHaney, Kim Y. Hiller- Connell
Abstract: Purpose: This article focuses on the psychometric stability of the technology acceptance model (TAM) by Davis (1989) when applied to users of social media interacting in ways which may eventually lead to the purchase of environmentally sustainable apparel. Method: The study used an online survey method with a sample size of 178. Findings: This research provides evidence that the instrument is a valid and reliable measure when being used in a social media context. Implications: Given this evidence, those specifically impacted by this research, which include but are not limited to communication managers and those responsible for online communities and social media policies, can confidently apply the instrument in further investigations or use in this arena. Originality: The acceptance of users engaging in online peer interaction through specific social media technology websites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest has been validated and makes this study valid for future research considerations.
Keywords: social media; purchase intention; technology acceptance model; validation; scale; ease of use; usefulness; social networking sites; online communities, United States
Surveying Web platforms serving Communities of Practice: Findings and opportunities
by Sami Miniaoui
Abstract: Finding appropriate tools and platforms to maintain and manage their activities is a major challenge for Communities of practice (CoPs). We reviewed in this research several platforms used by CoPs from several backgrounds (IT, Education, social activities, etc.) in order to identify common tools that might help in proposing guidelines for dedicated CoPs platforms. We classified the reviewed platforms into four main categories: basic tools (Forums), simple platforms (Content Management Systems), community-oriented platforms (portals) and proprietary platforms (Youmedia, iwlearn). Indeed, we identified four main limitations of the reviewed platforms namely: Single authentication to the platform, Common repository of resources and global search, Notification and performing activities. Consequently, we discussed and justified adopting a pivot technology for implementing CoPs platform (Widget Technology). Additionally, we justified the necessity in providing interoperability of embedded tools for performing activities. Finally, a proposed logical structure of the dedicated platform for CoPs was discussed then justified.
Keywords: Community of Practice, knowledge management, Web2.0 technology, Widgets, portal, technical integration, inter-widget communication, collaboration
Crowdfunding: Exploring the factors associated with the users intention to finance a project online
by Prodromos Kontogiannidis, Georgios Theriou, Lazaros Sarigiannidis
Abstract: This study seeks to empirically examine the factors that affect the intention of users to participate financially in crowdfunding projects. A structured questionnaire was designed and distributed to 339 individuals that had already participated in a crowdfunding process either as project initiators, contributors or both. Results indicate the factors which affect the intention of consumers/users to financially participate in crowdfunding projects include intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, the characteristics of the project initiator and some platform characteristics. The verification of the findings is difficult due to the insufficient amount of studies that have been carried out so far. Moreover, the main focus of the study is former participants in crowdfunding projects based on the pre-purchase or reward model while neglecting other models. The research findings clearly state that crowdfunding platforms should focus primarily on brand credibility, brand image, perceived risk reduction, gamefication techniques, implementation and social network usage to promote the entrepreneurial ideas of the projects initiators. With regard to project initiators, the findings indicate that the promoting video, the investors perception on the entrepreneurs integrity and claims related to their entrepreneurial idea, as well as specific rewards are considered crucial factors for the success of a campaign. The present study addresses the emerging phenomenon of crowdfunding and enhances not only the academic theory of consumer/user behaviour towards crowdfunding, but also it provides some important managerial implications for both project initiators-entrepreneurs and crowdfunding organisations.
Keywords: Crowdfunding, Entrepreneurial Finance, New Ventures, Startups, Users Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation, Platform characteristics, Project Initiator Characteristics, Social Networking.
A descriptive model of sense of community on Juba Arabic Facebook
by Ben Kei Daniel
Abstract: Juba Arabic on Facebook (JAF) is a virtual community established primarily to bring together South Sudanese in Diaspora to cherish their collective cultural identity through learning of Juba Arabic language online. The research aimed at understanding the sense of community in JAF and its role in supporting learning of Juba Arabic as a form of cultural identity for South Sudanese in Diaspora. It presents a descriptive model and explores key factors of the sense of community likely to influence sustainability of engagement in the community. Analysis revealed an overall strong sense of community among members of JAF. Participants appreciated the ability of JAF in bringing them together to nurture their cultural identity in Diaspora. Moreover, the collective purpose of learning Juba Arabic was treated as a shared goal necessary for the sustainability of engagement in the community. This research augments the current literature on the sense of community as an important theory in understanding structural elements of community engagement online. It also substantiates growing research into exploring Facebook as an emergent social network platform for supporting language learning.
Keywords: Juba Arabic on Facebook; virtual community; Arabic language learning; sense of community online; South Sudanese in Diaspora.
Questionnaires in the design and evaluation of community-oriented technologies
by Federico Cabitza, Angela Locoro
Abstract: Stimulated by the maturity and ease-of-use of online psychometric questionnaire platforms, in this paper we discuss their exploitation as tools to gather representative indications, collect preferences and elicit requirements from the members of online communities for the design of their web-based technologies. To this practical aim, we suggest an alternative vision to the traditional way of considering questionnaires as part of the quantitative researcher toolbox, or worse yet, a trivial way to collect opinions with no design-oriented value. Rather, we advocate for a qualitative turn in questionnaire design and for the interpretation of the responses collected from even massive communities of prospective users. In particular, we propose to see questionnaires as valuable tools for two related tasks: the collection of preferences for the prioritisation of features and requirements of prospective web-based systems; and the evaluation of the impact of these systems on the communities that adopt them. In particular, this impact is addressed on a multidimensional perspective, including community values such as trust, sense of reciprocity, sense of community and social capital. In both cases, questionnaires are lightweight, feasible and cost-effective tools to enable the incremental improvement of community-oriented technologies according to the direct feedback collected from the community members.
Keywords: psychometric questionnaires; community research; community informatics; community-oriented technologies.
Special Issue on: Lurking around the Corners of the Social Media Bastions
Security Information Sharing via Twitter: "Heartbleed" as a Case Study
by Debora Jeske
Abstract: The current paper outlines an exploratory case study in which we examined the extent to which specific communities of Twitter users engaged with the debate about the security threat known as Heartbleed in the first few days after this threat was exposed. The case study explored which professional groups appeared to lead the debate about Heartbleed, the nature of the communication (tweets and retweets), and evidence about behaviour change. Using keywords from the Twitter user profiles, six occupational groups were identified, each of which were likely to have a direct interest in learning about Heartbleed (including legal, financial, entrepreneurial, press, and IT professionals). The groups participated to different degrees in the debate about Heartbleed. This exploratory case study provides an insight into information sharing, potential communities of influence, and points for future research in the absence of a voice of authority in the field of cybersecurity.
Keywords: Heartbleed; Twitter; social influence; behavioural change; case study.
Special Issue on: Web Communities; The Sense of Genuine Connectedness
WHAT IS AN ONLINE COMMUNITY? A NEW DEFINITION BASED AROUND COMMITMENT; CONNECTION; RECIPROCITY; INTERACTION; AGENCY; AND CONSEQUENCES
by Michael Hammond
Abstract: This paper explores the concept of online community. It is divided into three main sections. The first examines the challenge of defining the concepts of community and being online. The second looks at definitions of online community as well as the ways in which the term has been used across a wide range of contexts, covering issues of attachment, emotion, community strength, motivation for participation, and relationship to technology. The third provides a general definition of online community around six key elements: commitment; connection to others; reciprocity; interaction; agency and consequences. The paper sensitises practitioners and researchers to the contested nature of community and provides a definition that is both broad and complex.
Keywords: Affordance; agency; community; technology; strong ties; weak ties.