Using Web Analytics to Measure the Activity in a Research-Oriented Online Community

From Virtual Communities

Jump to: navigation, search



Catherine Dwyer, Pace University, Starr Roxanne Hiltz, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Yi Zhang, New Jersey Institute of Technology


Web-based online communities, which require tremendous effort to create and maintain, can nevertheless appear quite inactive. This leads to difficulties justifying their continued support. In our research, we discovered a significant amount of member activity in a seemingly passive online community. We want to argue this activity demonstrates a clear engagement and participation of members in the community. To do this, we will apply Web analytics to a research oriented virtual community and measure member’s usage characteristics and interaction with the site. Web analytics uses data mining techniques to uncover browsing patterns by examining the content of Web server logs. It has been successfully applied in usability studies to highlight Web design problems, and has also been used in e-commerce to predict and/or influence shopper’s choices. Our application of Web analytics shows that although this community does not appear to have many “voices” in the form of frequent discussion postings, there is significant evidence of both social engagement and information seeking activity by a large number of members on a regular basis.


Web Analytics, Online Community, User Online Behavior, Social Engagement, Information Seeking, Web Metrics



Personal tools