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Joined: 11/08/2011
Groups: None

Dear Community

We are two Master Students at the ETH Zürich, Switzerland and currently researching different aspects of online interaction on the base of the foldit community.
Needless to say, foldit offers a rich variety of innovations emanating from the gamification and crowd-sourcing of a basic research project. Within the scope of our work, we are investigating two distinct aspects:

1. Group Knowledge Collaboration
2. Individual Leadership Behaviour

The outcome of our work will not only help to comprehend the big success and high-level results of foldit, but will hopefully allow to make some recommendations for the developers in order to further improve the foldit experience. We already informed Seth Cooper, who certainly expressed his interest in the resulting suggestions.

So far, we have conducted a special analysis method (netnography) on the forum and could indentify a handful of members and groups who we would like to interview. You might have been already contacted by one of us with the request for help. We want to thank to all who have already replied and offered their help. Unfortunately, in order to acquire significant results, a critical minimum of interviews is required, which we did not obtain yet. We are very thankful for your support and are open for any suggestions.

We are excited to be able to contribute to foldit and are looking forward to collaborating with you.

Best Regards,
Fabian and Pedro

Contact Information:

1. Group Knowledge Collaboration
Fabian Baumann (FB_ETH)
Mail: fabauman@ethz.ch
Skype: fab.baumann

2. Individual Leadership Behaviour
Pedro Schmidt (pedschmi)
Mail: pedschmi@ethz.ch
Skype: pedropabloschmidt

Joined: 11/08/2011
Groups: None

Hi All,

Seth Cooper suggested to me to explain the netnography a bit more into detail. Of course, I am glad to do so.

The term „Netnography“ is assembled from the words „inter[net]“ and „etno[graphy]“, as it has similar values as a traditional etnography and provides information on the symbolism, meanings, and consumption patterns of online consumer groups.
It was conducted on the base of the forum in order to primarily identify members with leadership characteristics. Basically, all forum contributions were collected and codified according to 3 characteristics:

1. Motive of contribution
The forum posts were categorized into different groups, where the motive for contributing was assessed. Self-didicated leaders have a specialized knowledge, which they use to support other members, mediate between the members and developers and to manage different organizational tasks in the community.

2. Frequency of forum contributions:
It is obvious that a self-dedicated leader shows an above average contribution (i.e. forum posts) rate.

3. Pattern of individual behavour over time:
It was observed, that the respective members choose to take the responsibility only for a certain, clearly restrictable time. During that time the contributions were observed to be distributed in a specific manner (normal distribution)

We also want to make very clear, that up to this stage only publicly available data was used and no personal information, nor content, such as quotes etc., were used and will be only in the progressing course of our work with the explicit approval of the originator.

Also, I want to thank to all who have agreed to give their support for our research very much! And we are still hoping to acquire some more members.

Please, feel free to contact me for further information considering Leadership Behaviour and the Netnography, and Fabian considering Group Knowledge Collaboration.

Best Regards,
Pedro Schmidt


Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
Supported by: DARPA, NSF, NIH, HHMI, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Boehringer Ingelheim, RosettaCommons