Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 9:40 PM

Subject: Clarification of Comparative Analysis assignment


Some students asked for more detail on the Comparative Assignment, which

will the basis for class discussion Friday. This note attempts to clarify

the assignment and provides details for turning it in. I'm sorry for the

delay in providing this info.

Readings so far in this class have tried to give you background so that you

can derive hypotheses about contributing to online communities from

relevant theories in the social sciences. This is theory-driven,top-down


The comparative analysis paper is designed to have you think bottom up, by

examining what various online communities do to encourage contribution,

participation, or commitment. Select two online communities that would make

an interesting comparison. How do they different on the way they try to

elicit contribution, participation, or commitment or in the success of the

methods they use? You can select two online communities that differ in the

technical or social methods they use to elicit contribution and hypothesize

about effects these methods have. Alternately, you can select two

communities that differ on how successful they are and hypothesize about

the methods that led to this difference in success.

We expect to spend at least 90 minutes in class on Friday going over your

analyses. We'll probably have time to go over only 3 or 4 of them. So

that we can plan which analyses to use as the basis for class discussion

(and so that you know before hand how much to prepare), please post an

announcement in the blackboard/cscw/communication/discussion

board/comparative analysis forum, with the names and pointers to the

communities you will compare. If you known the main point you'll be

emphasizing, include this as a sentence in your post. Please post this

announcement by 6PM on Thursday, and we'll let you know by 9PM if we will

use your analysis for class discussion.

Post your full analysis in the comparative analysis forum before class.

Unless you need special formatting for tables or figures, please post your

analysis as plain ASCII text rather than as *.doc or *.pdf files. The posts

will be easier for everyone to read if we download attachments.

Summary: Compare 2 online communities in terms of the methods they use to

encourage contribution, participation, or commitment.

Post an announcement of what communities you will compare by

6PM on Thursday.

Post the assignment by class on Friday.


Robert Kraut

Herbert A. Simon Professor of Human Computer Interaction

Carnegie Mellon University

5000 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213

(o) 412 268-7694 (f) 412 268-1266