Welcome to my first blog. It is being constructed for my ICS 691 course, which is an in depth look at Social Networking. I typically don't engage in this type of activity as I work, so it will be interesting learning about this stuff.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Session 7 Part 1

Student: Thomas Harder
Instructor: Prof. Richard Gazan
Course: ICS 691 Social Networking
Assignment Session 7.1

Because I am not studying a particular site per se, it would be impossible to locate any governing documents. So, I choose to work with the governing documents for Second Life, as this is the social networking site with which I am most familiar.

There are four major documents mentioned in the paper by Justine Grimes for enacting governance in virtual worlds. These documents include Software Licenses, Terms of Service, Privacy Policies and Community Standards. While Mr. Grimes gives credit for Second Life for having two of these in fact it has all four. These documents are found in different locations. The software license is found while loading the software. The reader will have to try to install the Second Life software in order to read the whole license.
The privacy policy is found here - http://secondlife.com/corporate/privacy.php
The community standards are here - http://secondlife.com/corporate/cs.php

The TOS is here - http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php
These documents are quite different in terms of their language and length. The shortest and most readable documents are the Community Standards and the Privacy Policy. Both are approximately 2 pages and are written in concise English. The Terms of Service and the software license are both written in “Legalese”, the professional language of Lawyers. While the Community Standards are pretty clear, in some regions of Second Life there are additional standards applied by the community, such as the Gorean sections. These areas have additional standards that must be agreed to by the user prior to entry.
The interesting part of the documents is found in the Community Standards, in the Policies and Policing Section, recreated below. This is interesting because it spells out quite clearly some of the rogue actions and the results for such actions.
Policies and Policing
Global Standards, Local Ratings All areas of Second Life, including the www.secondlife.com website and the Second Life Forums, adhere to the same Community Standards. Locations within Second Life are noted as Safe or Unsafe and rated Mature (M) or non-Mature (PG), and behavior must conform to the local ratings. Any unrated area of Second Life or the Second Life website should be considered non-Mature (PG). Warning, Suspension, Banishment Second Life is a complex society, and it can take some time for new Residents to gain a full understanding of local customs and mores. Generally, violations of the Community Standards will first result in a Warning, followed by Suspension and eventual Banishment from Second Life. In-World Representatives, called Liaisons, may occasionally address disciplinary problems with a temporary removal from Second Life. Global Attacks Objects, scripts, or actions which broadly interfere with or disrupt the Second Life community, the Second Life servers or other systems related to Second Life will not be tolerated in any form. We will hold you responsible for any actions you take, or that are taken by objects or scripts that belong to you. Sandboxes are available for testing objects and scripts that have components that may be unmanageable or whose behavior you may not be able to predict. If you chose to use a script that substantially disrupts the operation of Second Life, disciplinary actions will result in a minimum two-week suspension, the possible loss of in-world inventory, and a review of your account for probable expulsion from Second Life. Alternate Accounts While Residents may choose to play Second Life with more than one account, specifically or consistently using an alternate account to harass other Residents or violate the Community Standards is not acceptable. Alternate accounts are generally treated as separate from a Resident's principal account, but misuse of alternate accounts can and will result in disciplinary action on the principal account. Buyer Beware Linden Lab does not exercise editorial control over the content of Second Life, and will make no specific efforts to review the textures, objects, sounds or other content created within Second Life. Additionally, Linden Lab does not certify or endorse the operation of in-world games, vending machines, or retail locations; refunds must be requested from the owners of these objects. Reporting Abuse Residents should report violations of the Community Standards using the Abuse Reporter tool located under the Help menu in the in-world tool bar. Every Abuse Report is individually investigated, and the identity of the reporter is kept strictly confidential

The Second Life site also includes a page dedicated to enforcement of the Community Standards. The Incident Report is neatly tucked away in the support section of the website http://secondlife.com/support/incidentreport.php. Here the users can read a very brief synopsis of incidents and the actions taken by the support personnel.
Finding three examples of breaking terms, with some explanation took a bit more searching.
The first article I found was a bit dated. This goes back to 2006 and seems fairly straight forward. An individual Marc Bragg was able to take advantage of an exploit that allowed him to assign a very low price to a piece of property and then buy it at that price. This exploit was viewed as a violation of the TOS and Linden Labs banned the offender. The offender was a lawyer, and took Linden Labs to court. After a 2.5 year battle the offender eventually won, and got his property and account back. I wonder however it was eventually worth it.
This article does highlight the importance of the governing documents. Their essence is to spell out the binding agreements that are formed between a user and the software or service provider. Quite clearly it is very difficult to do this, and as this article shows, even too much protection can hurt the term writer. It also highlights how virtual worlds can impact the real world and vice versa, this was an issue mentioned in the article by Michael J. Madison.
The second article- Does Virtual Reality Need a Sheriff? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/01/AR2007060102671.html. Again highlights the blurring of the real world with the virtual world. Although it does not name names, it does reveal the extent of the legal issues that a software provider such as Linden Labs has to be concerned with. In this case it is the laws surrounding child pornography, and the myriad of different laws written by different countries. The most interesting line is found at the end where the CEO is quoted as saying he would like the Second Life participants to form their own laws. I wonder if he would like his company to be subject to these laws. Or would he rather have Linden Labs subject to the Laws of the State of California? Is it possible that he hopes that the users would become self-aware as pointed out by Rich Gazan in the When Online Communities Become Self-Aware, or perhaps Second Life users have already knowingly reached that stage?
The last article was about a University site being deleted because of violations by University members. Some of the members of Woodbury University were known to belong to a grieffer group known as p/n.
After Linden Labs notified the University of its impending doom, the University took steps to clean up its Second Life website. Because it was not contacted further by Linden Labs, the University assumed that its actions were acceptable and working. So, when Linden Labs deleted the Island, it came as quite a shock to the University.
This is an interesting article to find after reading the previous article about users being involved with developing the terms of service. It does raise the question of sincerity. But I think that until the TOS can be developed interactively, this is just Linden Labs being cautious.

Madison, Michael J. (2006). Social Software, Groups, and Governance. Michigan State Law Review, Vol. 2006, p. 153. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=786404

Cosley, Dan, Dan Frankowski, Sara Kiesler, Loren Terveen, John Riedl (2005). How Oversight Improves Member-Maintained Communities. CHI 2005, April 2–7, 2005, Portland, Oregon.

Kollock, Peter and Marc Smith (1996). Managing the Virtual Commons: Cooperation and Conflict in Computer Communities. In: Susan Herring (ed.), Computer-Mediated Communication: Linguistic, Social, and Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 109-128. http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/kollock/papers/vcommons.htm

Grimes, Justin, Paul Jaeger and Kenneth Fleischmann (2008). Obfuscatocracy: A stakeholder analysis of governing documents for virtual worlds. First Monday 13(9). http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2153/2029

Gazan, Rich (2009). When Online Communities Become Self-Aware. Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, 5-8 January 2009.

Gazan, Rich (2007). Understanding the Rogue User. In: Diane Nahl and Dania Bilal, eds. Information & Emotion: The Emergent Affective Paradigm in Information Behavior Research and Theory. Medford, New Jersey: Information Today, 177-185.

Dibbell, Julian (2008). Mutilated Furries, Flying Phalluses: Put the Blame on Griefers, the Sociopaths of the Virtual World. Wired 16.02. http://www.wired.com/gaming/virtualworlds/magazine/16-02/mf_goons?currentPage=all

Reed, Mike (no date). Flame Warriors. http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/index.htm

Monday, April 6, 2009

Session 6 Part 1.

Student: Thomas Harder
Instructor: Prof. Gazan
Part of my project includes an overview of features of the more popular open source software packages available to create social networking sites. One of the most popular open source packages referenced in the popular literature is Elgg. Elgg is a Curverrider project. The project was started in 2004 and is now up to version 1.5. A variety of sites have adopted Elgg, and a small list is shown after this paper. As such this paper doesn’t adhere to the letter of the assignment, but I did try to make it adhere to the spirit.

Elgg has a variety of features that promote online identity. The two major aspects of online identity include the user profile and the avatar. Elgg provides both components in a standard modular form. Being modular allows the site developers to modify or replace the standard modular with a more customized version if desired. However, the standard modular should work nicely in most cases, with just a few tweaks. The standard Elgg profile is shown below.

As is shown there is a host of information that is made available about a user. This data is grouped into six categories, User profile details, current status, recent bookmarks, message board, friends and group membership. Again, Elgg allows for this plug-in to be modified or replaced by another plug-in by the site developer, thus creating a unique site identity. Please keep this in mind while browsing the sites powered by Elgg.

The other major software feature of an online profile is an avatar. With Elgg the avatar is more than just a picture representing the user. The avatar includes a context sensitive menu. This menu allows site visitors to perform actions on the user to whom the avatar belongs such as adding the user as a friend, sending an internal message to the user and more. Additional plug-ins can add to this context sensitive menu to expand functionality and developers can add unique features to their site. The example below, from Elgg’s site show an avatar with an image cropping feature.

User avatar cropping
So Elgg allows the site developers to provide tools necessary to allow the users to create their own unique online identities. It is possible to allow users to customize their profiles, addint and subtracting or editing widgets, to present their image “just so”.
For examples of use I choose to use the Elgg Community site as it is powered by Elgg. The site is dedicated to the use and development of Elgg software and sites, and so is more limited in the types of conversation then sites such as AnswerBag. A likely scenario is a developer coming to find information on themes in Elgg. The user could login and then enter a key word or phrase in the search textbox. Once the phrase has been entered the user will press the go button and a search will be made of the group and discussion topics for an appropriate discussion thread.

The user will then be presented with a list of documents found about themes on the Elgg site.

Themes are quite a popular issue on sites, as the theme helps create an identity. Elgg keeps themes in a separate menu in the menu bar. So the user could go to Tools->Plugins & Themes and the select a theme to apply. Some of the themes will show you what the end result may look like. From here the user can download and install the theme.

The goal of this community is straight forward and that is to aid in the development of Elgg powered web sites. The Community is pretty close knit and small. Users cannot rate comments or posted tools formally, but they can comment to comments. And there is also a page hit or post hit counter which could be used as a gauge of popularity. Users can feedback directly to a developer and these comments are the lack there of could be used to bolster community belonging.

Sites powered by Elgg
Budokin Uniting Martial Arts
Fem Pallars Sobira
The Brighton Gallery The Brighton Gallery is a free, simple, user friendly online community for creative individuals in the Brighton area to show their work, blog their thoughts, network, promote exhibitions and events, chat and have fun!
http://community.brighton.ac.uk/ This site is running Elgg v0.8 and is home to 40,000 students.
UHI Communities This site is running v0.9 of Elgg.
Swatch the Club This is a heavily modified version of Elgg.
UnLtdWorld UnLtdWorld is a social network aimed at connecting social entrepreneurs, social innovators and socially-minded people.
Eduspaces The first and largest social networking site dedicated to education and educational technology. With over 20,000 active users, Eduspaces is promoting the importance of Education, worldwide. This site is powered by Elgg v0.9
Rucku Rucku is the web's largest social network dedicated to rugby. This site is a bespoke development powered by Elgg.
Snippr Snippr is a custom social networking site built on a heavily customised Elgg.
diveXit This community is for Skydivers or people interested in Skydiving.
Dogs24 Hier geht es um Hunde. Und deren Futterknechte, Kumpels, Freunde, Besitzer - also um Dich! Mach mit und tausche Dich mit anderen aus.
Socialtrak A social network that allows you to create mutiple profiles and access groups.
i-Bondage We created this website out of our clear passion for a united BDSM community, a place to educate and connect.
Schools in Middle East
Social eCommerce This is a place to collaborate, learn and share anything eCommerce.
Entre Pares
Addicted to kicks
EnterpriseAmbassadors The UK's national enterprise movement
My Life Thinking
A mort la malbouffe
Facebook for kids
Tickerheads Share your stock, option, future, and currency trades with others and receive immediate feedback
Hedgehogs The space for the investment community.
Elgg Website

Monday, March 16, 2009

Session 5 Week 1

Student: Thomas Harder
Instructor: Prof. Gazan
Course: ICS 691 Social Computing
Assignment: Session 5 Week 1

Peer Production in online environments vs. in-person collaboration

In this case Peer Production really means commons-based peer production. Wikipedia defines this as “a new model of economic production in which the creative energy of large numbers of people is coordinated (usually with the aid of the internet) into large, meaningful projects mostly without traditional hierarchical organization (and often, but not always, without or with decentralized financial compensation)(wikipedia - Commons-based peer production)” . There are differences between online and in-person peer production. And these differences can bring synergy to a project.

Peer Production in in-person collaboration
Peer production in in-person collaboration is quite common place, as it has been the major means of collaboration since before the Internet. In in-person collaboration two or more people collaborate on a project. This is commonly thought of as the individual scheduling a meeting at a central location; however video phones and conference lines are also a form of in-person collaboration (such as Saba Centra and Cisco’s Telepresence). While there is a little confusion over the definition, in-person collaboration typically means synchronous. Preparing the collaterals, that may be used at the meeting, and running copies. Traveling to the meeting site and once there they share their thoughts and ideas in real time, with all the give and take that accompanies this type of meeting. Interactions happen real-time, and the event typically requires some artificial or preplanned recording in order to capture the results of the meeting. With a big project there may be many smaller meetings as individuals and groups work towards building consensus on the production. The major advantage of these events is the interaction and team building that can be formed during the meetings. Individual get to know each other, can exchange information and learn whom they can trust and rely on. There are many disadvantages such as the meeting occurs in real time and the results need to be captured and relayed in some manner. Much time and resources are consumed in the preparation for the meeting, such as the development of collaterals and holding smaller meetings in order to persuade stack holders, traveling to the meeting and back and during the meeting.

Peer Production in online environments
Peer Production also occurs online. Online environments can be either synchronous or asynchronous. Some forms of peer production are real-time, or pseudo real-time, such as Instant Messenger and Second Life. Other forms of peer production, such as Wikipedia, are not. This flexibility is a major advantage for online systems. It gives the respondent greater flexibility in the length and depth of a reply. An individual can post something, for example a paper, and the reviewers can review the paper at their pace and in the space of their choosing. Online environments are typically self documenting. IM messages can be recorded and replayed in order to reread the communication. Wikipedia allows user to read the “conversation” about a page or to view the history of the page, much as viewing different versions of a document.
Although, the self documenting features must be built-in, such features typically are built into social computing software.

In comparison, both in-person and on-line peer production have advantages and disadvantages. Both models have been used to generate Light and Heavyweight peer production, such as open source software, wiki’s etc. The advantages and disadvantages are sufficiently different that these types of peer production can be used simultaneously on projects to build synergy. The in-person collaboration is better suited to disseminating content to a limited number of targeted consumers and to building trust among varied and key stakeholders. Online collaboration is typically self-documenting and allows individuals to read and reply in a manner more convenient to their self. For example the question below was posed on LinkedIn. This question has been posed on several other sites and has finally received some useful answers on LinkedIn.

It also provides a mechanism for give and take questioning that can be reviewed by others when necessary. Second Life allows users to do group chat or IM, giving the users the ability to hold several simultaneous conversations. When these conversation are about creating objects within the 3D environment, the environment itself can be used to demonstrate the concepts concerned. Second Life has recently launched a set of business tools. It will be interesting to see if a 3D atmosphere can contribute additional benefits.

While both systems encourage decentralization, decentralization is encouraged more by online collaboration as it is not necessary for both parties to be present, which can be quite a problem if the organization is large or geographically dispersed. On a personal note, I had the pleasure of being on a team that tried to use AIM to form a team and design a database project. While this seems to be a worst case it could happen on other projects. One of the individuals appeared to be rather dictatorial about the project, and refused to compromise on just about every aspect of the project. Consequently and because of the lack of richness of the AIM media, everything was argued about and the conversation was slow and cumbersome. Issues that could have been resolved in 1 or 2 minutes in person took 10+ minutes to just describe. In one 2 hour session, just the main 4 roles were divided, and this had to be reevaluated after a complaint was lodged with the instructor. Then instead of creating proper meeting minutes, the team leader just submitted a post of the AIM converstation. This is poor procedure for several reasons. First, a team meeting can have comments that are embarrasing for individuals and no one wants their mistakes or flaws posted for everyone to read. Secondly, and more importantly, a verbatim recording of the conversation is not necessary or useful. It is the result of the converstation that are required.

In summary, both online and in-person collaboration can lead to quality rich or quality poor peer production. The issue is how the tools are used and the motivation of the people using the tools. Online and in-person collaboration have separate and overlapping advantages and disadvantages. But it is up to the users to pick the right tool for the right results.

Duguid, Paul (2006). Limits of Self-Organization: Peer Production and "Laws of Quality”. First Monday 11(10). http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1405/1323

Haythornthwaite, Caroline (2009). Crowds and Communities: Light and Heavyweight Models of Peer Production. Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, 5-8 January 2009.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Final Project Proposal

Student: Thomas HarderInstructor:
Prof. GazanSchool: Unit. of Hawaii
Assignment: Final Project Idea

Final Project
For my Final Project I would like to do a review of the different Off-the-shelf SNS implementations. The major question would be "How do these different types of systems implemement/support different type of user roles and interactions?.

Obtain a list of different systems.
Obtain and review the literature about these system and some of the clients.
Visit and review the clients networks analyzing them for different roles and interactions, and gathering empirical data.
Write Paper.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Session 4 Part 1. Report on Two Sites.

Student: Thomas Harder
Instructor: Prof. Rich Gazan
Course: ICS 691 Social Computing
Assignment: Session 4 Part 1:
Social Capital and Trust Mechanisms


In this assignment the student was to compare the social capital and trust mechanisms of two sites. This needed to be two sites that the student had not blogged about or nor visited before. I choose LinkedIn and Slashdot. I also visited Kuro5in, but upon learning that they wanted 5 dollars to post, I changed my mind. Both of these sites are supposedly geared for more professional audiences then purely social networking or entertainment, such as Face book or MySpace.
LinkedIn is aimed at the professional business audience, such as Business, Legal, and Information Technology etc. The aim is allow individuals to keep in contact with their business acquaintances, and to build “Bridging Capital”. The site has four major sections; People, Jobs, Answers and Companies. The People, Jobs and Companies sections are like advanced search features, to find more information about People, Jobs and Companies. The Answers Section allows the user to ask questions about specific topics, and allows users to post answers, much akin to AnswerBag.com. The site allows the user to modify their profile, adding text and an avatar. The site allows a user to see their contacts, they don’t have friends at LinkedIn, and to be able to import and export their contact list. Additionally a user can invite people off of his/her email contact list, providing it is hotmail, to join LinkedIn. Also, users can see and peruse their contacts’ contacts.
Slashdot was originally a site for technology information for the more technology minded individual. Its byline is “News for Nerds”. It has started to develop into a more social website as they have started to add more categories that include none technology related information. This site allows you to ask and answer questions on a variety of news and technology related topics. As Slashdot was originally a pure news site, the profiles are more limited then the profiles at LinkedIn. However, you can have Friends, Foes, and Freaks in Slashdot, and you can see who the friends of your friends are and who the Foes of your Friends are.

Social Capital
Both LinkedIn and MSDN are sites aimed at the working professional. Therefore both sites more aligned to build Bridging Capital rather than bonding capital. The LinkedIn site is geared more for building relationships then the MSDN site. LinkedIn allows the user to see the number of contacts, and the number of contacts’ contacts, in “degrees”. The user is given statistics on how many contacts their contacts have and this forms the users “network”.

The Slashdot site is not geared to build a lot of social capital. The tools are extremely limited, both for creating a profile, managing and communicating with friends and contacts. You can build some “Bridging Capital”, by being able to see the friends of your friend. However, the site is clearly not even at the level of LinkedIn for building “Bonding Capital”. Slashdot does let users create groups, and others can join these groups. As can be seen in the above image, I have joined the .Net Developers group. Allowing users to create and join groups helps developed both Bonding and Bridging Social Capital.

Social roles are the key related behavioral regularities and distinctive positions that individuals play on a social networking site (Dmitri Williams). Neither LinkedIn nor Slashdot have a tremendous amount of Roles. In Slashdot users can be contributors, lurkers, or moderators. Slashdot has the most interesting moderator role as almost anyone can be a moderator. The Moderator role is assigned randomly to individuals logged into their accounts, browsing content without an account is allowed, and is granted the right to moderate for a brief period of time. This means that they can grant points or take away points during their session. On LinkedIn the roles are contributors and lurkers. There is no moderator role. However, any users can flag a post as being out of bounds, for any particular reason.

Trust Mechanisms
The term trust is used to define different types of relationships between two people (Paolo Massa). There are different types of trust relationships and different types of mechanisms to indicate trust in online social networks. Slashdot and LinkedIn fall into different types of online systems. Slashdot is more of a News site and LinkedIn is a Business and Job networking site. Both sites allow users to post comments and both sites allow users to create list of individual they consider friends and/or contacts. LinkedIn allows users to create a profile with comments about their work activity. Then the user’s contacts can make recommendations about their work efforts. The image below is a highlight from Jon Crump, a Microsoft employee.

Both sites allow users to make comments about answers. Slashdot has a scoring system and only moderators can add or subtract points to an answer. LinkedIn does not have a point scoring system, but the best answers get a star and this travels with the user who made the answer. I haven’t figured out how this is determined.

Both Slashdot and LinkedIn allow the user to avoid negative trust. Slashdot allows users to make anonymous postings. And LinkedIn does not tell users whom flagged their comments as objectionable.

Slashdot and LinkedIn are both very useful online communities. In terms of building social capital both sites are limited; Slashdot more so then LinkedIn. LinkedIn, by definition is a site that allows users to build primarily Bridging Capital. Both sites allow users to make recommendations about other users, and both provide users with the tools to view other users’ contacts and network of users. Slashdot scores answers; LinkedIn only allows for the Best Answer, all other answers are equal. Both sites could improve the quality of their trust mechanisms by allowing users to give points for the answers. These points could then be used to display answers in rank order rather than by time order. This would allow the best answers to “float to the top”. This feature would be very useful in a site where the best answer should be found quickly. Slashdot is a news site and not primarily built to aid in the development of social relations. Slashdot could improve their scoring mechanism making it easier to give points; the system is somewhat clunky, allowing only Moderators to give out points.

In summary for the assignment, I spent some time on Slashdot and on LinkedIn. Of the two sites, I preferred the LinkedIn site. LinkedIn had more user groups and even though Slashdot is supposed to be more technical, LinkedIn had more interesting technical postings. I was even able to get a question answered that I haven’t been able to get answered elsewhere. You may recognize it as I used it on Answerbag.
Both systems have elements that allow users to build trust. However, LinkedIn has more systems. Both systems have similar roles. Both systems have areas of improvement that could be made to the make the sites more useful in terms of building social capital and trust.

Gleave, Eric, Howard T. Welser, Thomas M. Lento and Marc A. Smith (2009). A Conceptual and Operational Definition of ‘Social Role’ in Online Community. Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, 5-8 January 2009.

Williams, D. (2006). On and Off the 'Net: Scales for Social Capital in an Online Era. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2), article 11. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol11/issue2/williams.html

Massa, Paolo (2006). A Survey of Trust Use and Modeling in Current Real Systems. Trust in E-services: Technologies, Practices and Challenges. Idea Group.

Allen, Stuart M., Gualtiero Colombo, Roger M. Whitaker (2009). Forming Social Networks of Trust to Incentivize Cooperation. Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, 5-8 January 2009.

Eryilmaz, Evren, Mitch Cochran and Sumonta Kasemvilas (2009). Establishing Trust Management in an Open Source Collaborative Information Repository: An Emergency Response Information System Case Study. Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, 5-8 January 2009.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


This weeks activity did not go well for me. I was unable to accomplish any of the goals. I finished the reading last week and I started lurking and crafting my strategy. I determined that most of the highest ranking questions were emotional, controversial and opininated. These are questions like, what would you name a pet rock? Is Obama a nitwit? I also noticed that certain topics had larger numbers of comments. So I decided to post these types of questions. I also eliminated any questions that had already been asked to death (ie How much would could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?). I didn't want to come across as a complete pratt so I limited the number of question instead of throwing every single question and the kitchen sink. So here are my results.

The questions below are in reverse order. So my first question is the bottom question. I tried a varity of topics, some in educational some in conversational. All with no luck.

Category Question Answer Count Date Submitted Status Pts
1. US economy 1.5 Trillion dollars / 303,824,606 Americans = 4,937.05 per american. Wouldn't it have been better if the US gov't just gave us the money? 0 Feb 16, 2009 Active 0
2. Art Why is modern art still called modern art? Isn't that a bit of a misnomer by now? 1 Feb 16, 2009 Active 8
3. Visual Basic Has anyone used the compiler object in VB 2005? 0 Feb 15, 2009 Active 0
4. Relationship basics Why can't women remember to put the toilet seat down? 1 Feb 15, 2009 Active 5
5. Smoking Another dead smoker, smoked for over 40 years, why are the tobacco companies to blame? Where is the personal responsiblity? 1 Feb 13, 2009 Active 7
6. Consumer prices Some say that you get the best value if you buy a car 2 years old. When is the best time to buy a car? 3 Feb 13, 2009 Active 10
7. Religions Another suicide bomber (female) blows up 60 women and children, how is this justified? Is this really religous or more about Worldly power? 3 Feb 13, 2009 Active 0
8. Operating systems What is the best version of Unix for home use? 1 Feb 13, 2009 Active 0
9. Software Have you used the Enterprise Arcitect plub in for Visual Studio 2005/2008 and how does it work? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Is there are better piece of software in your opinion? 0 Feb 12, 2009 Active 0
10. Enterprise resource planning What happened to LeCASE (the Computer Aided Software Enginerring) software? 0 Feb 11, 2009 Active 5
11. Internet What is the best why to try online dating? 1 Feb 11, 2009 Active 0
12. California law What is the real root cause of California's Budgets crisis? 1 Feb 10, 2009 Active 0

So I got two questions that got 3 answers, and the best point score I could get was 10 points. Questions 3 and 9 were not answered, and these were the ones I was hoping would get answered, for my own selfish reasons. My responses faired no better. This leads me to the conclusion that in order to do well you need to be constantly on this site, have a large base of friends, or be really witty. Since I do not have much time, I don't care to be in constant contact with large groups of people I care little for, and I am not extremely witty, I am not terribly surprised at my results, consequently, I probably won't be going to this site after this assignment.

In terms of construction the site was fairly easy to use. Pretty intuitive to learn how to give points and reinforce others answers. It was interesting to feel the impact of the points, and watch the bag change colors. For a brief period of time I was thrilled to get some points, but then I woke up. The closest I actually came to a conversation was with the guy who responded to question 11. But I couldn't really think of anything to ask as the question was more contrieved for response then whether I was really all that interested in dating online. I have also joined some forum groups at facebook and myspace. The results have been fantastically disappointing. The problem is I am more interested in technical stuff then engaging in meaningless conversation. If I wanted to do that I would have remained married.

But there are several things that tied in with the reading. In the reading it was mentioned that many people come to sites to make friends, and the questions that seemed to have the most answers appeared to have a large number of friends. If you followed the trails of people it became obvious that there are groups of people that know (of) each other and respond frequently to each other. The readings also mentioned that many people come to these sites for entertainment and some of the questions and answers were entertaining. Many people feel that they are getting useful information on these sites. I thought that was questionable. Who cares what I would name a pet rock? And why would anyone on this forum be qualified to say whether Obama is a nitwit? Just because someone has an opinion doesn't mean it should be heard or given credence. I had a strategy worked out to engage with people, but there was little chance to use it. I think that basically I failed because I couldn't come up with questions that interested people (ie What would you name a pet rock? and Is Obama a Nitwit?), and I didn't have a large body of friends.

In relation to last weeks reading, this was an example of a depressing Internet experience. But it was more depressing because my grade was tied to whether I could somehow provoke a bunch of people I neither know nor care about into responding to my questions and responses. And that just doesn't smell like computer science to me, more like sales and marketing. I have an MBA, I hate sales and marketing. However, I rate the experience positively it did reinforce why I hate sales, and why I like the technical.