The Exchange in StackExchange: Divergences between Stack Overflow and its Culturally Diverse Participants (In Press)
Nigini Oliveira, Michael Muller, Nazareno Andrade, Katharina Reinecke
StackExchange is a network of Question & Answer (Q&A) sites that support collaborative knowledge exchange on a variety of topics. Prior research found a significant imbalance between those who contribute content to Q&A sites (predominantly people from Western countries) and those who passively use the site (the so-called "lurkers"). One possible explanation for such participation differences between countries could be a mismatch between culturally related preferences of some users and the values ingrained in the design of the site. To examine this hypothesis, we conducted a value-sensitive analysis of the design of the StackExchange site Stack Overflow and contrasted our findings with those of participants from societies with varying cultural backgrounds using a series of focus groups and interviews. Our results reveal tensions between collectivist values, such as the openness for social interactions, and the performance-oriented, individualist values embedded in Stack Overflow’s design and community guidelines. This finding confirms that socio-technical sites like Stack Overflow reflect the inherent values of their designers, knowledge that can be leveraged to foster participation equity.
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Citizen Science Opportunities in Volunteer-Based Online Experiments
Nigini Oliveira, Eunice Jun, Katharina Reinecke
Online experimentation with volunteers could be described as a form of citizen science in which participants take part in behavioral studies without financial compensation. However, while citizen science projects aim to improve scientific understanding, volunteer-based online experiment platforms currently provide minimal possibilities for research involvement and learning. The goal of this paper is to uncover opportunities for expanding participant involvement and learning in the research process. Analyzing comments from 8,288 volunteers who took part in four online experiments on LabintheWild, we identified six themes that reveal needs and opportunities for closer interaction between researchers and participants. Our findings demonstrate opportunities for research involvement, such as engaging participants in refining experiment implementations, and learning opportunities, such as providing participants with possibilities to learn about research aims. We translate these findings into ideas for the design of future volunteer-based online experiment platforms that are more mutually beneficial to citizen scientists and researchers.
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Participation Differences in Q&A Sites Across Countries: Opportunities for Cultural Adaptation
Nigini Oliveira, Nazareno Andrade, Katharina Reinecke
While the success of online Question & Answer (Q&A) sites relies on user contributions, previous work has shown that the number of contributions varies between countries. What remains unknown is whether this is due to a few people contributing a lot, or whether highly represented countries have a higher percentage of users who are willing to contribute. In this paper, we investigate this question with the goal of identifying opportunities to equalize contributions between countries. Analyzing the data from StackOverflow and Superuser, two popular Q&A sites, we find that the percentage of contributing users significantly varies between 116 countries, and that these differences can be partly explained by a country's national culture and overall English proficiency. We discuss how specific design decisions on these sites, such as the competitive reward mechanism used to encourage contributions, could be changed to encourage currently passive people to contribute.
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Contributor profiles, their dynamics, and their importance in five Q&A sites
Adabriand Furtado, Nazareno Andrade, Nigini Oliveira, Francisco Brasileiro
Q&A sites currently enable large numbers of contributors to collectively build valuable knowledge bases. Naturally, these sites are the product of contributors acting in different ways - creating questions, answers or comments and voting in these - contributing in diverse amounts, and creating content of varying quality. This paper advances present knowledge about Q&A sites using a multifaceted view of contributors that accounts for diversity of behavior, motivation and expertise to characterize their profiles in five sites. This characterization resulted in the definition of ten behavioral profiles that group users according to the quality and quantity of their contributions. Using these profiles, we find that the five sites have remarkably similar distributions of contributor profiles. We also conduct a longitudinal study of contributor profiles in one of the sites, identifying common profile transitions, and finding that although users change profiles with some frequency, the site composition is mostly stable over time.