Learning to be a better q'er in social qanda sites: Social norms and information artifacts

June Ahn, Brian S. Butler, Cindy Weng, Sarah Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social question and answer sites (SQAs) are increasingly popular knowledge sharing platforms. In this paper, we outline how an SQA site functions as a social learning community. The success of an SQA site depends not only on effectively organizing and delivering information, but also on whether it can provide the cues needed by community members to successfully learn to be productive contributors. We explore this learning process in four different SQAs that utilize the Stack Exchange platform: Science Fiction and Fantasy, Seasoned Advice (cooking), Database Administrators, and Android Enthusiasts. Using longitudinal fixed effects models, we examine whether users learn to be better question askers over time, and how user interface features and community norms affect the cultivation of this critical skill. The study offers design implications by highlighting factors that help users develop into literate and productive community contributors in social platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Human information interaction
  • Online communities
  • Qandamp;A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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