First, my compliments on an excellent set of posts and comments for Session 2. An asynchronous course like this is only as engaging as you make it, and the effort you've put into your posts and responses benefits everyone. Changing the deadline for your five comments to Friday of the second week of the session seemed to work well, so we'll stay with that for the time being.
For Session 3 we'll be doing something a little different. You've already had some experience with the challenges of getting replies and feedback in online communities, and found that one of the keys seems to be matching the content of your post to the rules, traditions or mood of your community. This can also include a community's unwritten rules, such as certain controversial topics, and how newbies need to approach longtime members with respect in order to get any response. Understanding how and why people participate in social sites will be extremely valuable, whether you are a designer, provider or user of social computing systems.
By Sunday, Feb 13, 11:59pm
1) Complete the Session 3 readings. Briefly summarize and evaluate their diverse senses of online participation and motivation, then provide two examples from your own online experience: one that supports a claim in one of the readings, and another that challenges or extends a claim in another. An example of the latter might be some reason you participate in an online community that you did not find covered or adequately explained.
2) Observe (don't participate this time) an online community that's new to you, and gather data from at least 50 posts in the community to answer the following questions:
--What modes of participation are there? For example, you may be able to post content of your own, comment on others' posts, rate posts, flag posts, friend people, send private messages etc. Provide a short but complete list of participation modes for the community you choose.
--How is participation encouraged? Include types of encouragement from both the designers of the site and its participants, with a brief example of each. You may need to go beyond your 50+ post sample to create a complete list, but if you observe more than five types, just present the five you observed most often.
--Which types of content draw the most responses? Create a list of the five most common forms of content you observed in your sample. For example, in a car community, you might have a list like the following: Questions about which car to buy, how to modify or customize it, evaluation of accessories, mechanical reliability and purely social chatting. You should have a raw count of the number of times each type of content is posted, and (importantly) add up the number of responses each post receives, in any mode you can detect, to arrive at a total response count for each content type. Make sure each of the 50+ posts in your sample were posted at roughly the same time, so that each has had equal time to accumulate responses.
Discuss and evaluate your findings, incorporating concepts from two of the three readings you did not address in 1), and focus specifically on anything you found surprising or unexpected. Your goal in this section is to evaluate whether your observations support, challenge or extend concepts from the readings, which may be different than the conclusions you drew from your own experience.
By Friday, Feb 18, 11:59pm
Comment substantively on at least five other students' posts. Try to choose students with whom you haven't already engaged in conversation.
By Sunday, Feb 20, 11:59pm
Conclude your responses and discussions. Continue to gather ideas for your final projects--feel free to contact me to discuss possible topics, as some of you already have, but next session's blog will have more concrete guidelines on that.