Studies about online social behavior?
November 9, 2007 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone done any sociology-type studies about online message board behavior between users? The stuff that we're used to - flame outs, pile ons, and the like. Bonus points for any books that might be a good read.
posted by agregoli to Human Relations (14 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
A Mefite did his Master's thesis on Metafiter. Here it is.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:47 PM on November 9, 2007

Quartermass has, and danah boyd also studies this pretty seriously.
posted by cgc373 at 7:48 PM on November 9, 2007

The local mirror mathowie made still works for Quartermass's thesis.
posted by cgc373 at 7:50 PM on November 9, 2007

It's still worthwhile to read Howard Rheingold's The Virtual Community for background.
posted by mikel at 8:02 PM on November 9, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, how did I miss that one? Thanks muchly!

(I'm very interested in internet behavior but I bet there are people with degrees and important titles in their names who know how to get grant money and who could go a lot farther with it than I)
posted by agregoli at 8:03 PM on November 9, 2007

I just finished a book chapter on this. email me.
posted by k8t at 8:12 PM on November 9, 2007

If you can get your hands on this, it was an early attempt to apply conversation analytic percepts to online sociality:

Deirdre Boden, 1988. "Because It's Time: BITNET and the Business of Sociology" Discourse Analysis Research Group Newsletter (Fall)

DARG was a research group at the U of Calgary with membership around the world. I'm not sure how to access its archives, though.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:31 PM on November 9, 2007

How specific to message boards do you want to get? According to an article on "social informatics" in the Indiana University SLIS alumni newsletter I just received, John Paolillo's working on social behavior on YouTube and Susan Herring and her grad students are looking at Wikipedia and Everything2 (the syllabi for her courses may provide a number of other useful references in CMC and CMDA); other profs are studying trolls on Wikipedia.

The 1997 anthology edited by Sara Kiesler, "The Culture of the Internet," is somewhat out-of-date, but has some useful foundational work on computer-mediated discourse and its analysis.
posted by nonane at 8:42 PM on November 9, 2007

I believe Peter Ludlow has done some stuff relating to this - though he's a philosopher, not a sociologist.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:14 PM on November 9, 2007

Check out Clay Shirkey.

Also, I had to read Yochai Benkler's Wealth of Networks, which is luckily available as a free-to-download PDF, for a class my senior year as an undergrad. Benkler coined the term "commons-based peer production."

You can have a look at the readings for the class.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 10:13 PM on November 9, 2007

One classic you should check out is a paper called Players Who Suit MUDs by Richard Bartle. He groups old-school online MUD players into Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, and Killers. It's surprisingly relevant to lots of online activity.
posted by pb at 11:07 PM on November 9, 2007

Check out this paper and the associated references and attached commentarie:
150. Green, S., P. Harvey, H. Knox. (2005). Scales of Place and Networks: an ethnography of the imperative to connect through information and communication technologies. Current Anthropology, 46(5), 805-826. (I'll email it to you if you don't have access).

Also, this list might have some useful references.
posted by Rumple at 12:29 AM on November 10, 2007

There are a ton of studies of online social behavior, going back more than 10 years now. Research specific to message boards (particularly Usenet) is a bit older, current research tends to focus on blogs and social networking sites (MySpace, Facebook, etc.) but it's all very related. Some additional books not already listed here, from older to newer are:
Cybersociety: Computer-Mediated Communication & Community
Cybersociety 2.0: Revisiting Computer-mediated community & technology
Communities in Cyberspace
Tune in log on: Soaps, fandom, and online community
The Internet in everyday life
Society online: The Internet in context
(for a more linguistic, non-English perspective) The multilingual Internet: Language, culture & communication online

Also, search through the archives of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:41 AM on November 10, 2007

I haven't read it yet (it's in my bookmarks) but here's The Psychology of Cyberspace.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:57 PM on November 10, 2007

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