Investigating substructures in goal oriented online communities: Case study of Ubuntu IRC
Published on Mar 27, 2014
· DOI :10.1109/IADCC.2014.6779445
In this paper, we apply social network analytic methods to unveil the structural dynamics of a popular open source goal oriented IRC community, Ubuntu. The primary objective is to track the development of this ever growing community over time using a social network lens and examine the dynamically changing participation patterns of people. Specifically, our research seeks out to investigate answers to the following question: How can the communication dynamics help us in delineating important substructures in the IRC network? This gives an insight into how open source learning communities function internally and what drives the exhibited IRC behavior. By application of a consistent set of social network metrics, we discern factors that affect people's embeddedness in the overall IRC network, their structural influence and importance as discussion initiators or responders. Deciphering these informal connections are crucial for the development of novel strategies to improve communication and foster collaboration between people conversing in the IRC channel, there by stimulating knowledge flow in the network. Our approach reveals a novel network skeleton, that more closely resembles the behavior of participants interacting online. We highlight bottlenecks to effective knowledge dissemination in the IRC, so that focused attention could be provided to communities with peculiar behavioral patterns.