Free interactions, hierarchical structure: Factors explaining replies attraction in online discussions

  • Itai Himelboim University of Georgia, Athens
  • Stephen McCreery University of Georgia, Athens
Keywords: Discussion forums, preferential attachment

Abstract

Given the opportunity to interact freely, individuals conform to a structure, in which a few actors attract a large and disproportionate number of ties or relationships. Drawing from literature on preferential attachment and scholarship about online discussions, this study examines patterns of replies, which are one aspect of the disproportionate attraction of replies in forums, as predicted by two factors: number of existing replies and content of posted messages. In two 2X2 experimental designs conducted via a custom developed online discussion platform, 198 subjects participated. Findings show an interaction, where the number of replies increased replies attraction only for the high–interest messages, illustrating the balance between the individual and group dynamics levels in evoking discussions.

Author Biographies

Itai Himelboim, University of Georgia, Athens
Assistant professor, The Grady College, University of Georgia, Athens.
Stephen McCreery, University of Georgia, Athens
Ph.D. student, The Grady College, University of Georgia, Athens.
Published
2012-03-08
How to Cite
Himelboim, I., & McCreery, S. (2012). Free interactions, hierarchical structure: Factors explaining replies attraction in online discussions. First Monday, 17(3). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v17i3.3533