Tad Hogg, Dennis M. Wilkinson, Gabor Szabo, Michael J. Brzozowski
Online social networking is increasingly popular and is a feature of many websites. Providing multiple types of relationship, such as friend, fan or colleague, can enhance the significance of the networks. We present an empirical study of an online political forum where users engage in content creation, voting, and discussion. The users also make explicit connections via three relationship types, forming three distinct networks. We establish a strong correlation between network participation and site activity and show that users stayed faithful to the relationship semantics, in aggregate. Moreover, we demonstrate significant structural differences among the networks, indicating different uses for each. Social networking features may help spread the word about new content, but we show that the networks played a surprisingly moderate role in this respect. Usage and social networking patterns were typical of many web communities, suggesting that multiple relationship types could be successfully featured in other such communities.
Subjects: 1. Applications; 6. Computer-Human Interaction
Submitted: Jan 10, 2008