Watch and Learn: Activity contagion in an online genealogy network (Foote, Lee)


In this paper, we use activity traces to try to cluster users based on their behavior in an online genealogy wiki. We treat the wiki as a community of practice, and based on legitimate peripheral participation theories we expect that people will start in peripheral roles before moving to more central roles.

We use agent-based network simulations (RSiena) to model how and whether people change roles over time. We ran into a few difficulties in the project - first, it was difficult to identify meaningful roles using k-means clustering. There was a very peripheral, low-activity role and two central roles but we couldn’t identify any moderately central roles. We also had problems with the agent-based modeling. The networks we identified changed too quickly for RSiena to model it effectively.

This is a paper I’d like to get back to and try to publish sometime but I know it will require digging into an old and ugly codebase so I’ve avoided it. :)