Selecting an effective niche: An ecological view of the success of online communities

Haiyi Zhu, Jilin Chen, Tara Matthews, Aditya Pal, Hernan Badenes, Robert E. Kraut

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Online communities serve various important functions, but many fail to thrive. Research on community success has traditionally focused on internal factors. In contrast, we take an ecological view to understand how the success of a community is influenced by other communities. We measured a community's relationship with other communities-its "niche"-through four dimensions: Topic overlap, shared members, content linking, and shared offline organizational affiliation. We used a mixed-method approach, combining the quantitative analysis of 9495 online enterprise communities and interviews with community members. Our results show that too little or too much overlap in topic with other communities causes a community's activity to suffer. We also show that this main result is moderated in predictable ways by whether the community shares members with, links to content in, or shares an organizational affiliation with other communities. These findings provide new insight on community success, guiding online community designers on how to effectively position their community in relation to others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2014
Subtitle of host publicationOne of a CHInd - Conference Proceedings, 32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages301-310
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781450324731
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Event32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2014 - Toronto, ON, Canada
Duration: Apr 26 2014May 1 2014

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Other

Other32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2014
CountryCanada
CityToronto, ON
Period4/26/145/1/14

Keywords

  • Online communities
  • Success
  • Topic overlap
  • Workplace

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  • Cite this

    Zhu, H., Chen, J., Matthews, T., Pal, A., Badenes, H., & Kraut, R. E. (2014). Selecting an effective niche: An ecological view of the success of online communities. In CHI 2014: One of a CHInd - Conference Proceedings, 32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 301-310). (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/2556288.2557348