Research on online communities raises a number of challenges. It is difficult to get access to usage data, to users (to interview), and to the system itself to introduce new features (e.g., participation incentive mechanisms). One solution is for researchers to create an online community themselves. Although this provides more control and access, it also requires additional resources (e.g., for staff to maintain the community) and consideration of the needs of the user community after the research is completed.
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