Latent groups in online communities : a longitudinal study in Wikipedia
Lanamäki, Arto; Lindman, Juho (2017-06-20)
Lanamäki, A. & Lindman, J. Comput Supported Coop Work (2018) 27: 77. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10606-017-9295-8
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Comput Supported Coop Work. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10606-017-9295-8.
Research on online communities has shown that content production involves manifest groups and latent users. This paper conceptualizes a related but distinct phenomenon of latent groups. We ground this contribution in a longitudinal study on the Finnish Wikipedia (2007–2014). In the case of experts working on content within their area of expertise, individuals can constitute a group that maintains itself over time. In such a setting, it becomes viable to view the group as an acting unit instead of as individual nodes in a network. Such groups are able to sustain their activities even over periods of inactivity. Our theoretical contribution is the conceptualization of latent groups, which includes two conditions: 1) a group is capable of reforming after inactivity (i.e., dormant), and 2) a group is difficult to observe to an outsider (i.e., non-manifest).
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