Bursty egocentric network evolution in Skype

Abstract

In this study we analyze the dynamics of the contact list evolution of millions of users of the Skype communication network. We find that egocentric networks evolve heterogeneously in time as events of edge additions and deletions of individuals are grouped in long bursty clusters, which are separated by long inactive periods. We classify users by their link creation dynamics and show that bursty peaks of contact additions are likely to appear shortly after user account creation. We also study possible relations between bursty contact addition activity and other user-initiated actions like free and paid service adoption events. We show that bursts of contact additions are associated with increases in activity and adoption—an observation that can inform the design of targeted marketing tactics.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    There is also a possibility of “blocking” a user, but for the purposes of this research, contact blocking is treated as equivalent to contact deletion since the additional implications of blocking are irrelevant to the study.

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Acknowledgments

The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of André Karpištšenko and Ando Saabas from Skype Technologies. This research was partly funded by the ERDF via the Software Technology and Applications Competence Centre (STACC) and Skype Technologies. M.K. thanks K. Kaski and J. Kertész for useful discussions and acknowledges support from FP7 ICTeCollective Project (No. 238597).

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Correspondence to Márton Karsai.

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Kikas, R., Dumas, M. & Karsai, M. Bursty egocentric network evolution in Skype. Soc. Netw. Anal. Min. 3, 1393–1401 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13278-013-0123-y

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Keywords

  • Data mining
  • Online social networks
  • Human dynamics
  • Social network evolution