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Latent Users in an Online User-Generated Content Community

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Online communities depend on the persistent contributions of heterogeneous users with diverse motivations and ways of participating. As these online communities exist over time, it is possible that users change the way in which they contribute to the site. Through interviews with 31 long-term members of a user-generated content community who have decreased their participation on the site, we examined the meaning that these users gave to their contribution and how their new participation patterns related to their initial motivations. We complement the reader-to-leader framework (Preece and Shneiderman: AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction , vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 13–32, 2009 ) by propounding the concept of latent user to understand decreasing content contribution and user life-cycles in online communities. We showed that even though latent users decrease their content contribution, their participation becomes more selective and remained consistent with initial motivations to participate.


Velasquez, Alcides; Wash, Rick; Lampe, Cliff; Bjornrud, Tor (41671): Latent Users in an Online User-Generated Content Community. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 23, No. 1. DOI: 10.1007/s10606-013-9188-4. Springer. PISSN: 1573-7551. pp. 21-50