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March 30, 2009

Kevin to present Naver paper at CHI next week

Kevin Nam, a student of Mark Ackerman, is going to talk about the Naver KnowledgeiN online Q&A forum. Unlike previous studies of Q&A forums (of which, ahem, we've generated a few) in this instance, Kevin actually got the most active users on the phone and asked them the questions we had been burning to ask, e.g. 'Do you have a life?' (OK, not that one), but rather "How do you select the questions you answer?","Why do you answer [1000 questions/month]?". We compared the answers Kevin got back against quantitative analysis of users' behavior on the site, based on a large web crawl.

What did we find out? Among other things, that people can't stand to see questions unanswered, and what really gets them going is seeing misinformation, either on the part of the asker, or given by another user attempting to answer. Another striking observation was the high level of intermittency in user participation. Even highly active users would suspend or curb their question answering when work or family life started making greater demands on their time. And does it matter if a user is only active intermittently? Yes, those whose participation is more constant have a better track record of providing best answers.

It reminds of this XKCD comic:

So if you're going to CHI, consider attending Kevin's talk, and in any case, here is the paper.

Posted by ladamic at March 30, 2009 02:04 PM

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