9) How many hours per week do you spend in online communities?
· 1-2 hours per week- 4% of respondents
· 2-5 hours per week- 20% of respondents
· 6-10 hours per week- 33% of respondents
· 11-15 hours per week- 16% of respondents
· 16+ hours per week- 24% % of respondents
Online communities based in forum software incorporate social norms and interactions to a much greater extent than previously thought. Some sites carry north of 200,000 users and their interactions have shown to be as complex as those in the physical world. For example, the most influential factor in deciding one’s credibility within a forum community is the amount of interaction with other users. Additionally, the average survey respondent will spend more time within the social areas of a forum site than the more information based areas. Seventy-five percent of respondents spend more than six hours a week in online forums, with 32% of those spending more than 16 hours per week in these forums. Furthermore, 66% of respondents will often, if not always, ask for advice in these forums. Finally, a resounding 47% of respondents were found to trust most people they meet on the site. It is clear that these communities incorporate other ways of instilling social value by the use of distinctions and a user hierarchy. There are enforcement mechanisms such as moderators and community ostracizing. Some respondents said they were more trusting of forums users over their “real life friends” because of their shared passions and perceived commitment to the community. Lastly, these social interactions will sometimes extend into the physical world when members meet other members to share experiences. Therefore, it is apparent that online community development has a foundation in existing social norms and that their longevity can in some ways be attributed to the passions of the users and their use of the sites in more than a purely information sharing manner.