In the recent group hoo-ha about sexism etc., or at leaset around that
time, someone said that first-timers who had recently posted to the
group might have been put off by aggressive responses. Apparently, new
research says it ain't so:

 Reciprocity Rides Again

In the recent edition of the Journal of Computer Mediated
Communications there was an article on Predicting continued
participation in newsgroups. ( Joyce, E., and Kraut, R. E.
2006).Journal Communication, 11(3), article 3.)

    Turnover in online communities is very high, with most people who
initially post a message to an online community never contributing
again. In this paper, we test whether the responses that newcomers
receive to their first posts influence the extent to which they
continue to participate. The data come from initial posts made by
2,777 newcomers to six public newsgroups. We coded the content and
valence of the initial post and its first response, if it received
one, to see if these factors influenced newcomers' likelihood of
posting again. Approximately 61% of newcomers received a reply to
their initial post, and those who got a reply were 12% more likely to
post to the community again; their probability of posting again
increased from 44% to 56%. They were more likely to receive a response
if they asked a question or wrote a longer post. Surprisingly, the
quality of the response they received—its
    emotional tone and whether it answered a newcomer's question—did
not influence the likelihood of the newcomer's posting again.

It was great to see data that confirmed the practices I've seen over
the years and my recommendation to online facilitators that initial
messages get responses. A quick is the first manifestation of "being
heard" online! If we don't feel heard F2F, we often stop
communicating. Why not the same online?

What was REALLY interesting here was that the quality of the response
did not influence the reaction. Is this, in effect, a simple nodding?
An "um huh?"

best regards,
Deirdré Straughan (personal) (work)

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