Title: The influences of participation and moderation on the development of a sense of virtual community

Authors: Michael Clay Carey; Hans K. Meyer

Addresses: Journalism and Mass Communication Department, Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35229, USA ' E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University, Schoonover Center 200, 1 Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA

Abstract: Sense of virtual community (SOVC) is an important indicator of website satisfaction and leads to higher levels of trust online and website use. More than 1,000 online users were surveyed about their activities in web forums, particularly how they view and interact with comments at the end of news stories. Overall internet participation and gender are the key predictors of how important an individual will report SOVC is and how much SOVC individuals report experiencing. The study also suggests that the development and enforcement of norms on an online comment forum is important to SOVC. Moderation of web interactions is shown to have a significant impact on whether an individual finds virtual community important. Findings suggest that the management of online forums is important to the development of SOVC - individuals in the study who favoured forums that were less restricted also reported experiencing lower levels of virtual community.

Keywords: virtual communities; web forums; interactivity; norms; online comment forums; forum management; moderation; internet participation; gender; story comments; sense of community; sense of virtual community; SOVC; online communities; web based communities; website satisfaction; trust; website use.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2016.080812

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2016 Vol.12 No.4, pp.326 - 341

Received: 25 Nov 2015
Accepted: 12 Feb 2016

Published online: 07 Dec 2016 *

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