Talk amongst yourselves: Inviting users to participate in online conversations

F. Maxwell Harper, Dan Frankowski, Sara Drenner, Yuqing Ren, Sara Kiesler, Loren Terveen, Robert Kraut, John Riedl

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

44 Scopus citations


Many small online communities would benefit from increased diversity or activity in their membership. Some communities run the risk of dying out due to lack of participation. Others struggle to achieve the critical mass necessary for diverse and engaging conversation. But what tools are available to these communities to increase participation? Our goal in this research was to spark contributions to the discussion forum, where only 2% of the members write posts. We developed personalized invitations, messages designed to entice users to visit or contribute to the forum. In two field experiments, we ask (1) if personalized invitations increase activity in a discussion forum, (2) how the choice of algorithm for intelligently choosing content to emphasize in the invitation affects participation, and (3) how the suggestion made to the user affects their willingness to act. We find that invitations lead to increased participation, as measured by levels of reading and posting. More surprisingly, we find that invitations emphasizing the social nature of the discussion forum increase user activity, while invitations emphasizing other details of the discussion are less successful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIUI 2007
Subtitle of host publication2007 International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Sep 28 2007
Event12th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, IUI 2007 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Jan 28 2007Jan 31 2007

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, Proceedings IUI


Other12th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, IUI 2007
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityHonolulu, HI


  • Discussion forums
  • Incentives
  • Invitations
  • Online community
  • Personalization


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