Understanding the Sources and Bandwagon effects in Blog communities
 
Student researcher

Ibrahim Yucel (Graduate Student)
This paper is based on a project from the "Psychological Aspects of Communication Technology" graduate course.

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

Introduction

Blogs are rapidly becoming a large area of research due to their interactive nature. They offer an opportunity to do much in the way of trends analysis and virtual community research. However do we really understand the how and why people read and contribute to blogs? This paper discusses the application of media source and bandwagon heuristics to a video game blog.

research question

In a contested argument will the community agreement or disagreement with the author of a blog have a significant effect?

Hypotheses

H1: Gamers, regardless of the community, will have strong opinions on the argument, and thus will not have an effect or their agreement of disagreement.

H2: Contributors, those who are active in online communities, will be more likely to act while those who are lurkers, readers who do contribute, are not as likely.

Method

Fifty nine participants (N=59) were recruited from two sources, a senior level university class and a student video game design club. Participants followed an email link to one of 4 different versions of the survey on a web service called “Survey Monkey”. The stimuli were designed to resemble a blog from a popular blog service. After the stimuli the participants asked a number of questions about the article and hypothetical actions they may make based on the information learned from the post. Most questions were posed on 7 point likert scales, with a few short answer questions.

Results

Gamers were more likely to identify with the commenters and use a bandwagon heuristic. This was more pronounced when the comments were positive (agreeing with the article) than negative.

Conclusions

There is a need to account for bandwagoning in the design of future blogs and the data minded from such virtual communities. There is also evidence to support treating authors and the commenters as separate sources. Even highly opinionated communities can be affected by the comments of their peers.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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Media Effects Research Lab at College of Communications, Penn State University