Special interest communities : Design for online growth

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för informationsteknologi

Author: Nadia Röning; [2017]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: Special interest online communities refer to groups of people who share a concern orpassion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly,with some of the interaction being technology mediated. The Uppsala UniversityACM-W Student Chapter is an online community, run by a student group, thatpromotes gender equality in Computer Science and Information Technology atUppsala University. This thesis investigates what makes a website an online community by determininghow community building works and how it could be used productively. The UppsalaUniversity ACM-W Student Chapter's ambition is to be a successful onlinecommunity and attract both short-time members and long-time members to engagein their organization. It should also be easy to keep international contact with similarchapters through the website. Hence an evaluation of the chapters website(uu.acm.org) was conducted for this thesis, involving interviewing members of thechapter. The focus of the evaluation was to investigate how well the UU ACM-Wchapter's current website support community engagement, but also how the websitecan be redesigned to better support community engagement. Results from the evaluation showed some functionality problems with the website andthat the way the chapter support communication and collaboration could beimproved. Based on the results, concrete design proposals were introduced to thechapter's members in order to evaluate if they could be useful for improving thewebsite. Furthermore, ideas on how to establish a strong online platform that mightcontribute to online growth for special interest communities, such as the UppsalaUniversity ACM-W Student Chapter, were given. In conclusion, the selected approach was suitable for the stage the chapter was in, andthe method described in this thesis is one tool for helping other small-scale onlinecommunities to better understand their organization and to help them narrow downtheir organization's administrative load into design solutions that ease theiradministrative tasks.

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