Yuelin Li¹, Xiaofeng He1, Die Hu²
¹Nankai University, China, People’s Republic of; ²School of Information and Library Science, North Carolina University at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Monday, November 9, 3:30pm


Summary
The study aims to examine information seeking and sharing behavior of IT professionals in a virtual community (VC). In total, 200 threads with 1623 postings were extracted from ChinaUnix.net, an IT VC. A content analysis was performed and descriptive statistical analysis was conducted. The study identified four types of information seeking and sharing activities: resource sharing, experience sharing, asking questions, and asking for resources. The results indicate that asking questions is the dominant activity in this virtual community (VC), while experience sharing threads are browsed most in comparison to other threads. Browsing information in the VC is much more preferred by the users than contributing information to the VC. The important information behavior chain in this VC consists of asking, responding, interacting, uploading, linking, posting, and browsing. Interacting is an important vehicle for effective information exchange. The study helps people understand how the users of a VC seek and share information. The study reveals typical information seeking and sharing activities as well as behavior characteristics that support users’ engagement in a VC; it also identifies an information seeking and sharing chain in that context. It also adds new knowledge to users’ information seeking and sharing behavior in the information science area. The study could help designers develop and improve the design of VCs as well as help administrators improve and maintain an active and effective VC.