As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/

Smile, you're on [my sociology thesis]!

Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User regular
edited May 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello, H/A! Kate of Lokys here: irregular contributor, occasional solicitor of advice, and also... covert ninja-student observer of everything you say and do.

Ahem. More specifically, I decided to use the H/A forum as the subject of my undergraduate sociology thesis during my final academic year. For a period of one week back in February, I recorded every new topic that was posted to H/A, along with all of the replies. I recorded the number of threads started by each user, and the number of times they replied to threads started by others. I described the formal rules and unwritten norms of this forum, I compiled a bunch of pretty charts and tables, I brought in a lot of sociological theory ( <3 Putnam), I used discourse analysis to explore the significance of individual and collective utterances within one example thread.

So, if you've ever wanted to see the phrase "limed for the truth" used in a formal academic paper, take a look! I think it's a fairly interesting read, and some of you will even feel the dubious glow of seeing your usernames in print. (I've actually been asked to cut it down to about 25 pages so I can submit it for publication to a peer-reviewed journal, which would be pretty awesome I think, if only for the inherent hilarity of having somebody with a PhD arguing with me about my interpretation of zombie0047's post).

The paper:

The Kindness of Strangers: Quantitative Observation and Discourse Analysis of Help-Seeking Activity in an Online Community

(I know this is neither help nor advice, but I received mod approval for this post).

Kate of Lokys on
«1

Posts

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Wow. That's sounds bloody interesting. It's been more than 6 years since I took a college level sociology class, but I'll definitely check it out.

    Congrats on getting it done - must be a relief.

    firewaterword on
    Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
  • LailLail Surrey, B.C.Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Wow!

    I'm at work right now so I only got a chance to skim through it, but...Wow!

    Looks very impressive and I can't wait to get home to actually read it, even though it'll probably be way over my head.

    Well done!

    Lail on
  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Incredible.

    MikeMan on
  • liquidloganliquidlogan Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I read through most of it. After briefly considering closing it at the mention of Robert Putnam's name (university fatigue ftw), I found a lot of it interesting.

    I also feel kind of dirty that we were being watched, but I kind of like it.

    liquidlogan on
  • saint2esaint2e Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I'm just glad I didn't ask advice about that horrible hemorrhoid I had back at the beginning of February.

    saint2e on
    banner_160x60_01.gif
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I do enjoy the official citation of Thanatos among recognised authors. I look forward to reading this in more detail at some point soon.

    Willeth on
    @vgreminders - Don't miss out on timed events in gaming!
    @gamefacts - Totally and utterly true gaming facts on the regular!
  • CrashtardCrashtard Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Just finished reading it. Very interesting findings Kate (especially to a fellow soc major).

    Crashtard on
    I pinky swear that we will not screw you.

    Crashtard.jpg
  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Someone should really do a paper on the Strange and Embarrassing Moments thread.

    firewaterword on
    Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
  • CrashtardCrashtard Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Someone should really do a paper on the Strange and Embarrassing Moments thread.

    More like the social entropy forum.

    Crashtard on
    I pinky swear that we will not screw you.

    Crashtard.jpg
  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    It was a fun read.

    Pheezer on
    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Wow, I've read your thesis, its good stuff.

    I was surprised in a way when I first started on PA at the level of support/concern total strangers were willing to give to one another. I'm not any more, I think the people on this forum are amazing, and now you've demonstrated it with stats. And you used SPSS!

    Tell us your result when you receive it, and include graduation pics!

    LewieP's Mummy on
    For all the top UK Gaming Bargains, check out SavyGamer

    For paintings in progress, check out canvas and paints

    "The power of the weirdness compels me."
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    Or kitty-pics.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I'm heading out in a bit, but I'll be reading this for sure.
    I'm racking my brain wondering if I started any topics here during that time.

    Kyougu on
  • embrikembrik Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Very well done! If you haven't already, give yourself a pat on the back :) And I have to say, I assumed that it would be a bit hard to read, as a "non-sociology" person, but I was definitely mistaken. This was very well put together and I could comprehend all of it. It made me appreciate the community we all have here.

    embrik on
    "Damn you and your Daily Doubles, you brigand!"

    I don't believe it - I'm on my THIRD PS3, and my FIRST XBOX360. What the heck?
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Neat.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • Lindsay LohanLindsay Lohan Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Very well done - although I'll admit I've only skimmed it so far (I'll read it entirely tomorrow at work!) I have to admit I chuckled at there being a description of what liming is and that salmon for lies is somewhat rarer.

    Lindsay Lohan on
  • ArikadoArikado Southern CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Very good read.

    I couldn't help myself but laugh along with serious presentation of the rules and liming.

    Arikado on
    BNet: Arikado#1153 | Steam | LoL: Anzen
  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Just finished reading it, it's really well done. I'm surprised by the old-fashionedness of the lay-out, though. I guess that's all mandatory, but god do I hate double spacing.

    I don't know if you've already handed it in, but if not there are some small errors, you missed one [sic] in one of your quotes (in the quality part, you quoted someone talking about how he had a similar problem) and I don't think it is needed to describe /what/ SPSS is, it's just a tool nearly all social scientists use, I think it is safe to assume that your readers will understand what you mean if you just say that you used SPSS 16.0 as tool to analyse your data.

    Aldo on
  • mooshoeporkmooshoepork Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    argh! I'm in there. Thank god it was only my iPod thread.

    mooshoepork on
  • EarthenrockEarthenrock Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Time well spent reading that. Thanks for sharing that with us.

    Earthenrock on
  • RingoRingo He/Him a distinct lack of substanceRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Now I want to know if Kate's SO ever taught himself to play violin :P

    Ringo on
    Sterica wrote: »
    I know my last visit to my grandpa on his deathbed was to find out how the whole Nazi werewolf thing turned out.
    Edcrab's Exigency RPG
  • HeirHeir Ausitn, TXRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Or kitty-pics.

    Heh, did she mention how one of the unspoken requirements of a "new kitten/puppy" thread was the need to placate the forum gods by posting "cuddly-wuddly" pictures?

    Heir on
    camo_sig2.png
  • ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Heir wrote: »
    Or kitty-pics.

    Heh, did she mention how one of the unspoken requirements of a "new kitten/puppy" thread was the need to placate the forum gods by posting "cuddly-wuddly" pictures?

    She did indeed. I'm with Arikado in finding the serious presentation of it all as mighty amusing.

    Æthelred on
    pokes: 1505 8032 8399
  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    That was bloody awesome. You'll have to tell us when it gets published in a journal.

    saggio on
    3DS: 0232-9436-6893
  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited May 2008
    Cool. I'm no sociologist, but this sort of thing is right up my alley, and I thank Pheezer for bringing it to my attention.


    I only gave it a real quick skim thus far, I'll have to look at it in more detail later. But one part that rubbed me the wrong way was the analysis on pages 30-31 (pgs 35-36 of the pdf) which investigates the number of times someone asked for help as compared to the number of posts giving help.


    The problem with this analysis is that it was limited to the single week of observation, and took no consideration of the long-term trend. Indeed, the community would probably actively discourage someone from asking for help more than 2 or 3 times in a single week, and certainly would discourage those who ask for help repeatedly week-after-week. It would be interesting (and possible) to search the history of the 10 most active responders and see how many NEVER asked for help of their own. I would bet almost all of them have.

    Ramius on
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Great thesis paper, enjoyable and neat! The old professors, who do not understand the grand "intranets", will be impressed. :D

    If we're critiquing, I'd say your tables could be organized better, and your graph needs a proper title. But if you're planning on publishing it, I'm sure you'll work out all that stuff. :D It was a great paper, good job!

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Crashtard wrote: »
    Someone should really do a paper on the Strange and Embarrassing Moments thread.

    More like the social entropy forum.

    I don't go there. There be dragons.

    Had a chance to read the whole thing - nicely done.

    firewaterword on
    Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
  • CryogenCryogen Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Very interesting read, thanks for sharing Kate!

    I have a question though, i am in the reference list (hooray!) but i'm not sure why as i didnt see my name anywhere in the body of the paper. I was only able to skim the paper (on my lunchbreak) though, and ran a search for my name. Perhaps i'm referred to more subtly :)

    Cryogen on
  • Folken FanelFolken Fanel anime af When's KoFRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    This is awesome. Well done indeed!

    Folken Fanel on
    Twitter: Folken_fgc Steam: folken_ XBL: flashg03 PSN: folken_PA SFV: folken_
    Dyvim Tvar wrote: »
    Characters I hate:

    Everybody @Folken Fanel plays as.
  • ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    tl;dr




    Just kidding. It's a decent read. Who knew we were so friendly, eh? (top 15 responders never asked for help thselves!)

    ben0207 on
  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Ramius wrote: »
    I only gave it a real quick skim thus far, I'll have to look at it in more detail later. But one part that rubbed me the wrong way was the analysis on pages 30-31 (pgs 35-36 of the pdf) which investigates the number of times someone asked for help as compared to the number of posts giving help.
    ...
    It would be interesting (and possible) to search the history of the 10 most active responders and see how many NEVER asked for help of their own. I would bet almost all of them have.

    Haven't read the rest of the paper yet (and I will!), but I'd agree with this. I don't think all of them would have never asked for help; even prolific people like Thanantos drop in some questions, but it's usually things like "How do I sort out my tax return?" rather than "emo emo i cant ask girls out ;( ;(" It's just the ratio will be low.

    However, Kate does say:

    "A number of users expended considerable quantities of time and effort on
    aiding others with their problems, yet asked for nothing in exchange, from either the individuals
    they helped or from any other users: “at this extreme, generalized reciprocity becomes hard to
    distinguish from altruism and difficult to cast as self-interest” (Putnam, 2000, p. 135)."

    I think my issue with that passage is the use of (lies, damned lies and) statistics implied that there was some positive correlation between thread creation and thread response. I think most of the hardcore H&A would not say that was true, but then again that's going to be perception. I'd really like to see this taking in a larger dataset for the journal article (maybe Raimus can give you a DB dump now that you're not an unseen observer?) so we can find out what's what.

    Plus, although I am in the Top 10 of repliers (don't tell the boss ;) ) I would find it hard to describe myself as altruistic, as the quotation implied. I'd probably go with "smart-ass", and I certainly feel that it's much easier to look at other people's problems and go tell them what to do, than it is to objectively look at mine. I'm certainly atrocious at taking the advice of other people. Is it possible there's some research that might better describe me?

    Also maybe think about making a mention that some people have relatively low participation, but very high quality, usually in realms of expertise. DrFrylock is a great example, particularly in academic/career threads (maybe Jasconius to a lesser extent? He seems to pop up in technology threads a lot, but is in others too).

    EDIT: Now read the entire thing, really enjoyed it :^:. Well done!

    Lewisham on
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    Lewisham wrote: »
    Plus, although I am in the Top 10 of repliers (don't tell the boss ;) ) I would find it hard to describe myself as altruistic, as the quotation implied. I'd probably go with "smart-ass", and I certainly feel that it's much easier to look at other people's problems and go tell them what to do, than it is to objectively look at mine. I'm certainly atrocious at taking the advice of other people. Is it possible there's some research that might better describe me?

    This reminds me of a lecture I attended recently by Robin Wright on why businesses sponsor the arts.

    Full text of the accompanying book is in PDF form here. Basically, he relates the act of altruism to behaviours in the animal kingdom such as peacocks growing large tails or Arabian babblers putting their own life in danger to protect others. The general theory being that while the act of altruism doesn't benefit the person directly, it's an ostentatious act that indirectly benefits the altruist as a demonstration of his excess resources. In the sense of peacocks tails it shows that it is strong enough to gather the various nutrients required to grow it and is thus a good choice for a mate, in the sense of businesses sponsoring the arts it shows that the business is achieving so well it can afford to 'waste' some of it's excess money on the arts and so they should be a safe choice to bank or do business with. Being helpful is basically just cock waving - "look how smart I am, my life is going so well I have time to help other people with their problems because I have so few problems of my own, marry me, have my children, live a comfortable, problem free life".

    Interestingly, I suppose Wright would expect the larger analysis of the advice to request ratio to be more or less consistent with the one week sample. He reckons that only the most successful (animals, businesses, people) have the resources to act altruistically and even goes so far as to say that this is for the best as it means it retains authenticity as an indication of success. Therefore, I guess he'd expect the people with the least problems (and therefore the ones least likely to ask for advice) to be the ones most likely to give advice.

    Oh, I should mention, I'm taken. Sorry ladies, you'll need to go after one of the other top ten helpers.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I skimmed it, but read quite a lot overall...great work really, and really interesting! :^:

    NightDragon on
  • JHunzJHunz Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    This gave me something to read this morning during the early shift, and I found it pretty interesting. The highbrow serious presentation of a study on the PA forums really tickled me the right way.

    I'd be really interested in seeing a quantitative analysis of long term trends, as some other people have mentioned. I don't know if that's possible or feasible, but I think it would be interesting to see over the long term who the highest responder was who never posted a question, or how many people asked for help but never contributed back.

    JHunz on
    bunny.gif Gamertag: JHunz. R.I.P. Mygamercard.net bunny.gif
  • ihmmyihmmy Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    awww, I didn't get a mention. I guess I did just join in Feb though :D Very cool, exceptionally well written (well, the parts I read at least, I skipped the first dozen pages tbh), approachable yet appropriately formal..

    now let's see you dissect the Random Thoughts forum on hipforums :D it's a zoo in there. But, good work on this one!

    ihmmy on
  • Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Thanks for the comments and constructive criticisms, everyone! A couple of those little errors went right by me - when you've been staring at 40 pages of your own work for long enough, it all just kind of blends together. Cryogen, I had originally planned to comment on the importance of language and word choice as a subsection of my qualitative analysis, and I was going to cite your post as an example (you commented specifically on the negative tone of the OP, saying something like "I hope you don't sound as bitter in real life as you do in your post"), but I ended up dropping that line of inquiry. Thanks for catching the superfluous citation - neither of my PhD-holding overseers did ;-)

    I agree, the time span was very limited, and a longer observation period would have produced more detailed results. Compiling all the data by hand was a right *bitch*, though - I reckon I spent as much time recording usernames and categories as I did actually writing the paper. But hey, if anyone gets bored over the summer and wants to continue or extend the work, by all means feel free! If Ramius is somehow able to press a magical button and churn out a dataset of post and response frequencies, I would love to run it through SPSS.

    Kate of Lokys on
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Wow, looks good so far. I've got a splitting headache right now, but I'll read it in detail later. I did notice I was in there, that's a plus. :^:

    How long has this taken you so far Kate? I'm not looking forward to doing one of these in the future. :(

    urahonky on
  • CryogenCryogen Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Cryogen, I had originally planned to comment on the importance of language and word choice as a subsection of my qualitative analysis, and I was going to cite your post as an example (you commented specifically on the negative tone of the OP, saying something like "I hope you don't sound as bitter in real life as you do in your post"), but I ended up dropping that line of inquiry. Thanks for catching the superfluous citation - neither of my PhD-holding overseers did ;-)

    Well i do have kind of a personal interest there :)

    I sure hope i had something more to say than just that one line, that sounds really mean! I do remember that thread, as well. (no, dont go looking for what i had posted in full, i'm sure the OP has long since forgotten :P )

    Cryogen on
  • VThornheartVThornheart Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Well done! I think it's the first thesis that was ever entertaining to read... perhaps because it was about us. =) Very cool!

    On a side note, I'm a bit embarrassed that I'm the only new user who asked a question in that time. I broke the streak, d'oh! I'll never forgive myself. ;)
    Ramius wrote: »
    The problem with this analysis is that it was limited to the single week of observation, and took no consideration of the long-term trend. Indeed, the community would probably actively discourage someone from asking for help more than 2 or 3 times in a single week, and certainly would discourage those who ask for help repeatedly week-after-week. It would be interesting (and possible) to search the history of the 10 most active responders and see how many NEVER asked for help of their own. I would bet almost all of them have.

    I wouldn't doubt it. In truth, when it comes to posting topics, there's been times where I've asked a question that given some time I probably could have figured out myself... but I thought it might have a chance of bringing up an interesting conversation or teach me something I didn't realize about the subject if I posted it here. And pretty much every time, someone's brought up something that I might have never realized myself even if I had waddled through it on my own. It's useful to bring questions to the masses ;)

    VThornheart on
    3DS Friend Code: 1950-8938-9095
  • starmanbrandstarmanbrand Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Looks like I'm part of the pop-culture, now.

    Anyone want to take the Starmanbrand Reality Tour?

    In seriousness, this paper was intense. Great idea, and I am probably going to have to check out some of the sources. If they are half as interestin' as the paper, I will have some good summer reading.

    starmanbrand on
    camo_sig2.png
Sign In or Register to comment.