Flash Forums and ForumReader: Navigating a New Kind of Large-scale Online Discussion

K. Dave, M. Wattemberg, and M. Muller. Flash forums and forumreader: Navigating a new kind of large-scale online discussion. In Proceeding of Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW’04), pages 232 – 241, Chigago, Illinois, USA, November, 6-10 2004. ACM Press, New York, NY, USA. [pdf]


This paper report the user study conducted on the ForumReader, an application specifically tailored to support user browsing of Flash Forums. These distinguish from classical Usenet forums in which the group of participants and the lenght and dept of the conversation is much more dynamic.

Flash forums can be defined after the Flash mobs, which are groups of people that gather in a predefined location, perform some brief action, and then quickly disperse. Example can be Slashdot and IBM Jams.

These kinds of forums present specific challenges to the users because the classical authorship and thread structure of newsgroup is missing in these kinds of forums. Forum Reader tried to overcome these issues providing a visual retrieval interface for the messages of these kinds of forums.

The evaluation of the interface in a 2×2 experiment design, where two groups of users were presented a textual interface vs. a visual interface, showed a positive effect of the visual one.


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