Over at com-prac, there’s less activity than usual. This could be because of the Setúbal dialog (keeping some members busy offline) or for any other reason; usually the list is not exactly buzzing with traffic. That got me thinking on the role of “core members” in starting conversations. And I don’t mean “core” as in “collaborators” but as in “you pull them out, the conversation falters and stops”. In other words, as catalysts.
Answering Fred Nickols, who was wondering about the statistical relevance of a few in the total number of posts, I tried to make it clearer…
- Many people initiate threads; many more only jump in.
- A forum or list with many ongoing conversations is perceived as easier to join in (we did the poll).
So the effect of catalysts would be both direct and indirect. As a result,
- Catalysts would be those that habitually get conversations going.
- … and the effect would be greater the more people can be swayed by a fluent environment.
Therefore, if we want to try nice statistical analyses, we could do three:
- The “conversation concentration” index would measure what percentage of members start (say) 50% of conversations in a given long period. There could be several of those (25%, 50%, 75%).
- The “participation concentrarion” index would measure what percentage of total messages is posted by the most active (say) 10% of users. There could be several of those (1%, 5%, 10%, 30%).
- The “conversation cascade index” would measure the proportion of conversations that are started at a time when there is (at least) another conversation going on (say two messages a day minimum). There could be several of those (with zero, one, with two, with three, with four simultaneous threads). It would be interesting to see where it peaks and falls; I dare say this list peaks at three or four.
And I’d propose a fourth analysis: The “catalyst index“: what percentage of those conversations with zero coexistent threads are started by (say) 1% of users.
With that in hand, you would have a really complete picture of how conversations happen in a resource (list, forum, whatever) and possibly even tools to kick it into higher gear.What do you think of the stats? Anybody with time/interest/boredom enough to mine the com-prac, or other, for those numbers :-) ?