User generated content conference, and Lampe on people leaving online social networks

Cliff Lampe, from Michagan State University, was one of the presenters at a conference on user generated content hosted Friday by Eli Noam’s CITI. There were many interesting speakers at the conference, but I’ll just post a note about Lampe’s work since I had not heard of it before, whereas many of the other presenters are fairly well-known.

Lampe presented a couple of basic empirical observations on why people leave online social networks based on ongoing research. This is an important angle to counter-balance the immense amount of attention directed at succesful sites, site that people join. The basic points Lampe made are worth repeating, and here they are.

* people leave for better service elsewhere.

* people leave due to changes in life circumstances.

* people leave after conflicts with administrators.

* people leave after conflicts with other participants.

They all seem intuitive, but so does all sorts of other things, and these intuitions seems to be backed by data.

Think about how differently they effect various social networks, depending on permeability, population size, demographic concentration, etc. For example, an elected official trying to maintain a network much smaller than the one that was generated around President Obama’s campaign might not have to worry much about “better service” or changes in life circumstances within the span on one election, but should probably think about just how fragile a smaller cluster is to potentially destructive or paralyzing conflicts.

– – – addendum, promised Lampe to mention that this is work in a very early stage. so there it is.  – – –

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