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Reducing Problems of Sociability in Online Communities: Integrating Online Communication With Offline Interaction

Reducing Problems of Sociability in Online Communities: Integrating Online Communication With Offline Interaction,10.1177/0002764209356249,American Be

Reducing Problems of Sociability in Online Communities: Integrating Online Communication With Offline Interaction   (Citations: 2)
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Social network researchers have claimed that relations offline affect relations online; however, it is unclear which characteristics of online interaction are affected by the existence of offline relations. This article examines whether a mixture of virtual and real-life interaction—in contrast to purely virtual interaction—among some members of knowledge-sharing online communities reduces the prevalence of problems that the whole community faces. Typical problems of sociability that increase risk of failure in knowledge sharing include a lack of trust between members, free rider behavior, and a lack of stable membership. This analysis uses survey data from 26 online communities that are part of a virtual organization that hosts communities for teachers. The findings provide evidence for the existence of more trust and less free riding in mixed communities but not for greater membership stability. Results contribute to knowledge of how offline networks influence online relations; namely, offline networks reduce problems of sociability, thereby facilitating online knowledge sharing. Moreover, the results modify earlier claims about the integration of online communication with offline interaction by showing that complete integration is unnecessary.
Journal: American Behavioral Scientist - AMER BEHAV SCI , vol. 53, no. 8, pp. 1170-1193, 2010
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