Science, AskScience, and BadScience: On the Coexistence of Highly Related Communities

Jack Hessel, Chenhao Tan, Lillian Lee.
In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM'2016).

When large social-media platforms allow users to easily form and self-organize into interest groups, highly related communities can arise. For example, the Reddit site hosts not just a group called "food", but also "HealthyFood", "foodhacks", "foodporn", and "cooking", among others. Are these highly related communities created for similar classes of reasons (e.g. "true" to distinguish one as a better community and "advice" to focus on helping fellow members)? How do users allocate attention between such close alternatives when they are available or emerge over time? Are there different types of relations between close alternatives such as sharing many users vs. a new community drawing away members of an older one vs. a splinter group failing to cohere into a viable separate community? We investigate the interactions between highly related communities using data from consisting of 975M posts and comments spanning an 8-year period. We identify a set of typical affixes that users adopt to create highly related communities and build a taxonomy of affixes. One interesting finding regarding users’ behavior is: after a newer community is created, for several types of highly-related community pairs, users that engage in a newer community tend to be more active in their original community than users that do not explore, even when controlling for previous level of engagement.

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     author = {Jack Hessel and Chenhao Tan and Lillian Lee},
     title = {Science, AskScience, and BadScience: On the Coexistence of Highly Related Communities},
     year = {2016},
     booktitle = {Proceedings of ICWSM}

This work was supported in part by NSF grant IIS-0910664, a Google Research Grant, and a Facebook Fellowship. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or other sponsors.