Title: Using visual analytics to support online community development

Authors: John McAuley; Dave Lewis

Addresses: Adapt Centre, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland ' Adapt Centre, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Abstract: Question and answer communities are an integral part of the web, enabling individuals to find answers to difficult technical questions while reducing the need for companies to host expensive technical support centres. Developing and maintaining these communities is a challenge given how online communities can scale considerably and are subject to continuous change. In this article, we present two case studies in which we investigate how visual analytics could be designed to support different online question and answer communities. In the first study, we explore how collaborative visual analytics can encourage analysis and conversation in the Super User online community while in the second study we investigate how visual analytics can be designed to support a strategic approach to online community management at Symantec. Our findings suggest that visualisation promotes discussion and reflection but does not readily produce actionable or repeatable insights. More effective solutions require a deeper understanding of community processes, enabling more predictive or actionable insights for different community members.

Keywords: online communities; collaborative visual analytics; visualisation design; case studies; discussion; reflection; community development; virtual communities; web based communities; question and answer communities; Q&A communities; online community management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2016.074277

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2016 Vol.12 No.1, pp.3 - 22

Received: 02 May 2014
Accepted: 29 May 2015

Published online: 15 Jan 2016 *

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