I have finished my research for the summer and wanted to thank you all for your participaction. My advisor did not approve the release of my entire report, but I am allowed to share my statistical analysis and conclusion. Thanks again,
\tQuestion and response (percentages are within 1% accuracy):
1) How long have you been using online forums?
â€¢\t0-1 years- 5% of respondents
â€¢\t1-2 years- 9% of respondents
â€¢\t2-4 years- 25% of respondents
â€¢\t4-6 years- 26% of respondents
â€¢\t6+ years- 34% of respondents
2) Describe your first experience participating in a forum.
â€¢\tDifficult- 1% of respondents
â€¢\tConfusing- 2% of respondents
â€¢\tTook some time to figure out- 17% of respondents
â€¢\tManageable- 24% of respondents
â€¢\tAfter two posts I was coasting- 25% of respondents
â€¢\tIntuitive and Easy- 28% of respondents
3) Is the forum community the first place you go for advice (when relevant to the specific community)?
â€¢\tNever- 2% of respondents
â€¢\tOnce or twice- 1% of respondents
â€¢\tRarely- 6% of respondents
â€¢\tSometimes- 22% of respondents
â€¢\tOften- 48% of respondents
â€¢\tAlways- 17% of respondents
4) How credible do you find fellow members?
â€¢\tNot at all; I read for the banter- 1% of respondents
â€¢\tVery little credibility- 3% of respondents
â€¢\tI double check their recommendations- 13% of respondents
â€¢\tSomewhat credible- 3e2% of respondents
â€¢\tI trust most people who reply to my posts- 47% of respondents
â€¢\tI trust all people who reply to my posts- 1% of respondents
5) What factors add to a personâ€™s credibility on the site?
â€¢\tTime on the network- 16% of respondents
â€¢\tMember status- 18% of respondents
â€¢\tNumber of posts- 15% of respondents
â€¢\tInteraction with you- 28% of respondents
â€¢\tInformation in profile- 9% of respondents
â€¢\tOther- 11% of respondents
6) Please rate (1-6) the ease with which you are able to find specific information in the forums.
â€¢\t1- 2% of respondents
â€¢\t2- 3% of respondents
â€¢\t3- 9% of respondents
â€¢\t4- 23% of respondents
â€¢\t5- 40% of respondents
â€¢\t6- 21% of respondents
7) How personally do you like to get to know other members?
â€¢\tI like the anonymity-6% of respondents
â€¢\tI only want information that is relevant to the forum- 8% of respondents
â€¢\t I care to know their bare essentials- 7% of respondents
â€¢\tSome additional information is helpful- 38% of respondents
â€¢\tI like to know them pretty well- 30% of respondents
â€¢\tItâ€™s helpful to know as much as possible- 10% of respondents
8) Do you spend most of your time in one section or do you bounce between sections regularly when you visit this site?
â€¢\tOnly look at one section- 3% of respondents
â€¢\tI browse 2-4 sections, but focus on one at a time- 39% of respondents
â€¢\tI browse more than four sections, but focus on one at a time- 12% of respondents
â€¢\tI switch between 1 and 3 sections regularly- 17% of respondents
â€¢\tI switch between 4 and 5 sections regularly- 13% of respondents
â€¢\tI switch between 6+ sections regularly- 13% of respondents
9) How many hours per week do you spend in online communities?
â€¢\t1-2 hours per week- 4% of respondents
â€¢\t2-5 hours per week- 20% of respondents
â€¢\t6-10 hours per week- 33% of respondents
â€¢\t11-15 hours per week- 16% of respondents
â€¢\t16+ hours per week- 24% % of respondents
\tOnline communities based in forum software incorporate social norms and interactions to a much greater extent than previously thought. Some sites carry north of 200,000 users and their interactions have shown to be as complex as those in the physical world. For example, the most influential factor in deciding oneâ€™s credibility within a forum community is the amount of interaction with other users. Additionally, the average survey respondent will spend more time within the social areas of a forum site than the more information based areas. Seventy-five percent of respondents spend more than six hours a week in online forums, with 32% of those spending more than 16 hours per week in these forums. Furthermore, 66% of respondents will often, if not always, ask for advice in these forums. Finally, a resounding 47% of respondents were found to trust most people they meet on the site. It is clear that these communities incorporate other ways of instilling social value by the use of distinctions and a user hierarchy. There are enforcement mechanisms such as moderators and community ostracizing. Some respondents said they were more trusting of forums users over their â€œreal life friendsâ€ because of their shared passions and perceived commitment to the community. Lastly, these social interactions will sometimes extend into the physical world when members meet other members to share experiences. Therefore, it is apparent that online community development has a foundation in existing social norms and that their longevity can in some ways be attributed to the passions of the users and their use of the sites in more than a purely information sharing manner.