Visualizing Threaded Conversation Networks: Mining Message Boards and Email Lists for Actionable Insights

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Analyzing complex online relationships is a difficult job, but new information visualization tools are enabling a wider range of users to make actionable insights from the growing volume of online data. This paper describes the challenges and methods for conducting analyses of threaded conversations such as found in enterprise message boards, email lists, and forums. After defining threaded conversation, we characterize the types of networks that can be extracted from them. We then provide 3 mini case studies to illustrate how actionable insights for community managers can be gained by applying the network analysis metrics and visualizations available in the free, open source NodeXL tool, which is a powerful, yet easy-to-use tool embedded in Excel 2007/2010.