Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The key to online popularity: It’s not how well you write but how much

That is the slightly disappointing conclusion of a study of 75 LiveJournal users being presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society today. It is the work of Susan Jamison-Powell from Sheffield Hallam University.

She and her fellow researchers looked at a number of factors, including the number of posts each participant had made, the total word count of their blog posts, the tone of those posts – whether they contained negative or positive words – and the number of online friends each participant had made.

In addition to this, each of the 75 participants was asked to give their impressions of each other member on a scale of one to five after a week.

The researchers discovered that the popularity of participants could be accounted for by their activity within the community, but not by the tone of their posts.

You could question how far it is possible to measure the tone of posts – is the logging of positive and negative words an adequate measure? – and note that there was no attempt made to measure the quality of writing at all. You could also wonder whether a week is long enough for such a study, but the moral seems clear enough.

As Susan Jamison-Powell, who carried out this study as part of her PhD thesis, says: “For a person to be popular online it’s quantity not quality that really matters.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Up to a point, Lord Copper. If one is blogging for the ADD generation, maybe. One (or two) new posts a day is nice and makes one feel ones visit will be rewarded, but forf me at least, I look for well-written, revealing, diverse, whimsical and surprising posts that leave me either amused, better-informed or , ideally, both. For me, a blogpost and its comments should be like a good conversation among friends at the pub or an illustrated talk at the village hall with questions afterwards.

Which is why you are firmly bookmarked as a favourite.