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Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 77–106 | Cite as

Latent Groups in Online Communities: a Longitudinal Study in Wikipedia

  • Arto Lanamäki
  • Juho Lindman
Article

Abstract

Research on online communities has shown that content production involves manifest groups and latent users. This paper conceptualizes a related but distinct phenomenon of latent groups. We ground this contribution in a longitudinal study on the Finnish Wikipedia (2007–2014). In the case of experts working on content within their area of expertise, individuals can constitute a group that maintains itself over time. In such a setting, it becomes viable to view the group as an acting unit instead of as individual nodes in a network. Such groups are able to sustain their activities even over periods of inactivity. Our theoretical contribution is the conceptualization of latent groups, which includes two conditions: 1) a group is capable of reforming after inactivity (i.e., dormant), and 2) a group is difficult to observe to an outsider (i.e., non-manifest).

Keywords

Online community Wikipedia Latency Latent group Longitudinal 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper has been under development since 2013, and is partially based on data collected during the first author’s doctoral thesis work (Lanamäki 2013). We would like to thank all researchers who have guided and supported the development of this paper in any way during these years. Karin Väyrynen, Netta Iivari, Kari Kuutti, Tonja Molin-Juustila, Marianne Kinnula, and Mike Chiasson have all provided useful comments to earlier drafts. We would also like to thank participants of University of Gothenburg Informatics Higher seminar and Stanford Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research Friday seminar for their feedback on the earlier versions of this work. The paper found its final form during 2016-2017 while under review in JCSCW. We give our greatest thanks to the associate editor Luigina Ciolfi and the two anonymous reviewers, for facilitating a development-oriented peer review process.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interact research unitUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Applied Information TechnologyUniversity of Gothenburg / ChalmersGothenburgSweden

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