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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Adam M Donahue <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 3 Nov 1999 12:13:06 +1000
DJ Lewis <[log in to unmask]>
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DJ Lewis <[log in to unmask]>
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One particular site that I suggest we could look at as a basis for our
discussions on the creation of virtual community via a web site is the
"Multimedia Internet Network" (MIN) site which was developed by some people
in Melbourne. Part of their mission is clearly to create a community of
professionals working in the multimedia and internet industries in
Australia. I believe that membership may still be free so try to check it
out at:

If you cant get a free log in there perhaps someone could suggest another
portal style site that we could look at as a group? Preferably one with a
medium-size scale so that we can get a good idea of the overall picture and
on ethat focusses on the creation of community.

Personally I think the min site is great model for portal design. The most
cogent and useful example of a portal I have seen. It is elegantly focussed
to a specific target audience so it doesn't need to 'please everyone all
the time' with its design (as I feel many worldwide internet service
portals attempt to do). A university portal is more broadly focussed than
the min portal but less broadly focussed than a worldwide internet services
portal I believe.

In terms of measuring the amount of 'sense of community' imbued in users by
a portal, I would like to suggest that one measure of community might be
the amount of interaction that community members are having with each other
as a direct result of their membership. On the min site, there are
discussion forums where emails are sent via web forms and posted on a page.
It would be possible to count the emails that are engaging other
individuals or groups in threads of discussion and these could be seen as
one kind of measure of community.

This would only be one factor of community though. After I look at
Quentin's post and resources perhaps I/we can get a better idea of other
factors and how they might be measured.

Perhaps we need some kind of stocktake on the possible mechanisms that may
be provided by web technology that might foster the creation of community.
I suggest:

1) Email discussion forums.
2) Realtime chat forums.
3) Organisation of community 'real world' meetings (invitations and dates
posted on site)
4) User-provided feature articles (possibly?)
(any others?)


At 10:22  01/11/1999 -0500, Adam M Donahue wrote:
>Here's a challenge for us:  let's come up with a formal way of measuring
>the amount of "community" fostered by a Web site.  In particular, I am
>thinking of a university portal.  If the general goal is to imbue the
>members of the students, faculty and staff with a sense of community
>garnered via the Web site, how can one really measure the success in
>reaching such a goal.  One obvious (and, I think, too simplistic)
>measurement is number of hits on the portal page.   But let's assume the
>portal is the required front page.  Hits are assumed.  How can one measure
>whether the site is succeeding as a Web-based community?
>This is an intentionally vague and non-simple question.
>Among the things to consider:
>  * The obvious question: what is Web community?  What are its ties to
>real community?  How can we measure the success of a Web community?
>  * What qualitative attributes of a user would we say indicated
>heightened feeling of community?  How can we measure them?
>  * Does the Web site's effect on the non-Web general community count?
>How can that be measured?
>  * If a portal is made up of several sub-services, does accessing a
>sub-service directly -- without going through the portal front-end --
>"break" the feeling of community?  Or are there attributes we can abstract
>from the Web community model and apply universally across services in a
>way that doesn't jeopardize community?