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Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social Design Hardcover – Mar 23 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (March 23 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262016575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262016575
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Building Successful Online Communities is the book we've all been waiting for. Students, faculty, and professional developers will learn how online communities function. There's something for everyone -- empirical findings framed in theory, and gems of advice. The authors are remarkable researchers, teachers, and leaders in the field.

(Jennifer J. Preece, Professor and Dean, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland's iSchool)

While many books have described the patterns and building blocks of successful social spaces from an architectural perspective, Building Successful Online Communities moves beyond the tangible and derives critical features and design claims for thriving communities in the more malleable online world. The authors provide real world examples and observations to help practitioners design an online community. In the process, they create a vocabulary and environment that engages the reader to want to design an online social space.

(Kyratso George Karahalios, Associate Professor, University of Illinois)

This work provides the science behind the observations we made in Building Web Reputation Systems. Its format of design claims, thoroughly supported by research and examples, is a must-have resource for anyone thinking of deploying successful online communities.

(F. Randall Farmer, online communities pioneer, and coauthor of Building Web Reputation Systems)

About the Author

Robert E. Kraut is Herbert A. Simon Professor of Human--Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University.

Paul Resnick is the Michael D Cohen Collegiate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan.

Sara Kiesler is Professor of Human Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. She has been elected into the CHI Academy by The Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI) in recognition of her outstanding leadership and service in the field of computer-human interaction.

Inside This Book

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x99092ab0) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x990a4510) out of 5 stars Excellent book for courses on online communities April 16 2012
By Derek L. Hansen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've been using a draft form of this book to teach graduate-level classes on online communities for several semesters (inspired in part by Paul Resnick's excellent course on the topic at the University of Michigan's School of Information where I received my PhD). I highly recommend it for other professors and practitioners who want to understand some of the theoretical underpinnings of online community interactions as well as practical implications for community designers. There really is no recent, comparable book on the market. I'm a fan of other practitioner-oriented books, but they lack the theoretical foundation that makes this one so compelling and will also make it more enduring as specific technologies change.

The book uses a common "design claim" framework, that is excellent for students to internalize, as it teaches them a systematic and testable way to approach online community design. An example of a design claim from the book is: "People will be more willing to contribute in an online group when they think
that they are unique and others in the group cannot make contributions similar to theirs." The design claim ties a specific design principle (i.e., emphasize the uniqueness of a contribution) to a goal (i.e., increase members' contributions). Design claims also have conditions under which they may apply, such as the demographics, size, and topic of the community. The complete formulation of this type of design claim looks like this: "alternative X helps/hinders achievement of
goal Y under conditions Z". Other claims focus on which of different design alternatives will be more successful. Specific ideas on how to implement the various design claims along with the theoretical basis for them are discussed alongside each design claim throughout the book. The framework is excellent, though at times there are so many design claims it can be a bit overwhelming to students.

When using this book in teaching I have complemented it with a couple of concepts not covered much in the book:
- The design claim approach is in the positivist social science tradition (as the authors state in the Introduction chapter). While this has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks. The focus tends to be primarily on the design claims (i.e., hypotheses) and only secondarily on the context in which they appear. In practice there are many design choices that often interact with one another in complex ways, making it hard to predict whether or not a particular design claim will work in any given community. This is not a reason to ignore design claims. Rather, it is a caution that the claims may not work as expected given the nuances of a particular community. This leads to the need for my next point:
- The book does not specifically discuss methods and tools for testing these design claims in the field, though many examples are provided of such tests and the authors clearly have a good understanding of how to conduct online "field experiments" of the sort needed. Complementing this book with a couple of readings on experimental design and A/B testing tools and methods is helpful. Doing so allows community designers to test the design claims they believe are important rather than relying on a theoretical argument that may or may not work in practice.

In summary, this is an outstanding, unique book that is particularly well suited for students and readers seeking to gain a better understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of different design decisions. The chapters are on excellent topics central to all community building efforts and the design claim framework is very useful, particularly when coupled with field experiments to test a claim's effectiveness in a specific community.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x990a4564) out of 5 stars An Evidence Based Book on Online Communities June 26 2012
By E. Gerber - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As a design researcher and founder of an online community, I reference Kraut and Resnick's book at least once a week to gain insight into the behavior and design of online communities. The editors provide a collection of evidence based essays on online communities. Drawing from computer science and the social sciences, the authors address the fundamental questions of online communities including how to start a community, encourage contributions, engage members, and regulate community. This edited volume is invaluable for understanding and designing for successful online communities.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x990a499c) out of 5 stars Great for Marketing and Social Media May 2 2012
By Willa - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book for those interested in marketing and want to build a social community around their company or product. This book will help you through the community design process as well as help you understand other communities (facebook, twitter, etc) which a company may be using for their social media marketing.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x990a4d68) out of 5 stars Good Jb! March 29 2013
By Ni Yan - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Overall I'm very satisfied with the service and the book itself. The book is really helpful and can give you many practical suggestions.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x990a4d14) out of 5 stars Five Stars July 8 2015
By Jeanie L Dase - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Was just what I wanted.