Interpersonal Media (Winter 2020)
- Interpersonal Media: Online Communities
- COM482A - Department of Communication
- Teaching Team: Benjamin Mako Hill / firstname.lastname@example.org (Instructor) and Wm Salt Hale / email@example.com (TA)
- Course Websites:
- We will use Canvas for announcements, turning in assignments, and discussion
- Course absence form: It is important to tell us know you if you are not coming to class at least one hour in advance.
- For the Wikipedia assignments, we will use this WikiEdu class page and dashboard.
- Everything else will be linked on this page.
- Course Catalog Description:
- Examines the relationships and groups formed through digital social media. Focuses on how people manage interactions and identities, develop interpersonal relationships, engage in collaboration and conflict, and develop communities in online environments. Involves both the study and use of network-based computer-mediated systems.
- 1 Overview and Learning Objectives
- 2 Note About This Syllabus
- 3 Organization
- 4 Assignments
- 4.1 Participation and Cases
- 4.2 Papers
- 4.3 Project 1: Contributing to Wikipedia
- 4.4 Project 2: Critical Analysis of an Online Community
- 4.5 Grading
- 5 Schedule
- 5.1 January 6 (Monday): Intro and Wikipedia
- 5.2 January 8 (Wednesday): Motivation
- 5.3 January 10 (Friday) Section: Wikipedia Assignments
- 5.4 January 13 (Monday): Motivation
- 5.5 January 15 (Wednesday): Commitment
- 5.6 January 17 (Friday) Section
- 5.7 January 20 (Monday): NO CLASS
- 5.8 January 22 (Wednesday): Commitment
- 5.9 January 24 (Friday) Section
- 5.10 January 27 (Monday): Rules and Governance
- 5.11 January 29 (Wednesday): Rules and Governance
- 5.12 January 31 (Friday) Section
- 5.13 February 3 (Monday): Newcomers
- 5.14 February 5 (Wednesday): Newcomers
- 5.15 February 7 (Friday) Section
- 5.16 February 10 (Monday): Creating New Communities
- 5.17 February 12 (Wednesday): Creating New Communities
- 5.18 February 14 (Friday) Section
- 5.19 February 17 (Monday): NO CLASS
- 5.20 February 19 (Wednesday): Wikipedia Debrief
- 5.21 February 21 (Friday) Section
- 5.22 February 24 (Monday): Learning Communities
- 5.23 February 26 (Wednesday): Social Computing Systems
- 5.24 February 28 (Friday) Section
- 5.25 March 2 (Wednesday ): Hackers
- 5.26 March 4 (Wednesday): Interactions Between Communities
- 5.27 March 6 (Friday) Section
- 5.28 March 9 (Monday): Final Poster Presentations
- 5.29 March 11 (Wednesday): Final Poster Presentations
- 5.30 March 13 (Friday) Section
- 6 Administrative Notes
- 7 Credit and Notes
Overview and Learning Objectives
Digital social media has radically and rapidly transformed the nature of how we communicate and interact. When this class was first offered at UW many years ago, instructors might hope to introduce students to online communities and computer-mediated communication for the first time. Today, online communities are central parts of each of our daily lives and have an important impact on our cultural, social, and economic experience of the world and each other.
This course combines an in-depth look into several decades of research into online communities and computer-mediated communication with exercises that aim to give students experience applying this research to the evaluation of, and hands-on participation in, online communities.
As students of communication in the twenty-first century, I expect that many of you taking this course will, after graduation, work in jobs that involve communicating, working with, or managing online communities. This class seeks to inform these experiences by helping you learn how to use and contribute to online communities more effectively and how to construct, improve, or design your own online communities.
I will consider the course a complete success if every student is able to do all of these things at the end of the quarter:
- Write and speak fluently about the rules and norms of the Wikipedia community and demonstrate this fluency through successful contributions to Wikipedia.
- Recall, compare, and give examples of key theories that seek to explain why some online communities grow and attract participants while others do not.
- Demonstrate an ability to critically apply the theories from the course to the evaluation of a real online community of your choice.
- Engage with the course material and compellingly present your own ideas and reflections in writing and orally.
Note About This Syllabus
You should expect this syllabus to be a dynamic document. Although the core expectations for this class are fixed, the details of readings and assignments will shift based on how the class goes, guest speakers that I arrange, my own readings in this area, etc. As a result, there are three important things to keep in mind:
- Although details on this syllabus will change, I will try to ensure that I never change readings more than six days before they are due. We will send an announcement no later than before we go to sleep each Tuesday evening that fixes the schedule for the next week. This means that if I don't fill in a reading marked "[To Be Decided]" six days before it's due, it is dropped. If we don't change something marked "[Tentative]" before the deadline, then it is assigned. This also means that if you plan to read more than six days ahead, contact the teaching team first.
- Because this syllabus a wiki, you will be able to track every change by clicking the history button on this page when I make changes. I will summarize these changes in the weekly an announcement on Canvas sent that will be emailed to everybody in the class. Closely monitor your email or the announcements section on the course website on Canvas to make sure you don't miss these announcements.
- I will ask the class for voluntary anonymous feedback frequently — especially toward the beginning of the quarter. Please let me know what is working and what can be improved. In the past, I have made many adjustments to courses that I teach while the quarter progressed based on this feedback.
This course is organized into two components that roughly span the first and second halves of the quarter.
Component 1: The Theory and Practice of Online Communities
In the first half of the class (Weeks 1-6), the readings will look to theories of interpersonal media by focusing on how and why online communities succeed and fail and how and why they grow or shrink. In each of the weeks in this period, we will read from the book we'll be using as a textbook: Kraut et al.'s Building Successful Online Communities (BSOC). Here is the citation:
- Kraut, Robert E., and Paul Resnick. Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social Design. The MIT Press, 2012.
A digital version of the book is available at all UW students through UW libraries and ProQuest Ebook Central at the following link (requires a UW NetID):
If you would like a paper copy, MIT Press sells the book for $35 as a paperback. Amazon has a limited number of hardcover copies available, starting at $23 as of January 2020. They also have paperbacks starting at $31 and the Kindle version is $19. Wikipedia has this long list of possible book sources.
More or less following the organizations of BSOC, we will focus on these key drivers of participation in online communities:
- Motivation: How do online communities incentivize participation?
- Commitment: How do online communities build relationships to keep individuals involved?
- Rules and Governance: How do online communities create norms, rules, and governance?
- Newcomers: How do online communities attract — or fail to attract — newcomers?
- Creation: How should one start a new online community?
In order to ground the theoretical readings during the first half of the quarter, there will be weekly assignments that provide a structured opportunity to learn about and become involved in Wikipedia.
You should keep in mind that the bulk of the reading in the course — and most of the most difficult material — will be front-loaded in this first five week period. The goal is to make sure that you have all the tools you'll need by Week 7 so that you can use this material to focus on your projects.
Component 2: Examples and Challenges
In the second half of the course, we will focus less on theory and more on examples of online communities and on applications, examples, and challenges, associated with interpersonal media and computer-mediated communication.
Our reading during the second part of the quarter will be focused on cases studies. We will also focus on in-class discussions and exercises that prompt critical consideration of how online communities take place in different domains as well as the challenges associated with using online communities. Our goal here is to build up the ability to critically understand these communities in terms of the theory we covered earlier.
In general, readings during this second component will be on the lighter side and there will be no weekly assignments other than reading. The readings are lighter during this component because I'm expecting you to be spending time outside of class working on your projects.
The assignments in this class are designed to give you an opportunity to try your hand at using the conceptual material taught in the class. There will be no exams or quizzes.
Unless otherwise noted, all assignments are due at the end of the day (i.e., 11:59pm on the day they are listed as being due).
Participation and Cases
The course relies heavily on participation, discussion, and the case study method. A standard "case" usually involves reading an example — perhaps up to 20-35 pages of background about an organization or group facing an ambiguous or difficult challenge. I will mark certain readings as "[Cases]" in the syllabus and I will expect you to read these particularly closely. It is important to realize that I will not summarize case material in class and I will not cover it in lecture. I expect you all to have read it and we will jump in and start discussing it.
Cases ask students to put themselves in the positions of individuals facing difficult situations to tease out the tensions and forces at play in the case and to construct — through group discussion — the broader lessons and takeaways. Cases are a wonderful way to connect the sometimes abstract concepts taught in many academic courses to real examples of the type of ambiguous situations that you will likely encounter in your career. Generally speaking, there are not right and wrong answers in cases.
Cases rely roughly on the socratic method where instructors teaching cases cold call on students—i.e., instructors call on people without asking for volunteers first. We will be doing this in each class.
I have written a computer program that will generate a list of names each day and we will randomly select a number of students in the class to call on in class. The program will ensure balance so that everybody is called on a roughly equal number of times during the quarter.
If you cannot attend class, you must tell us in advance by filling out this simple Google form that asks for two things: (1) your UW student number and (2) the date you will be absent from class. You must fill this out one hour before class begins or will not be able to incorporate it into the program that select names.
Because cold calling can be terrifying for some students, we will be circulating a list of questions we will alongside the weekly announcements (i.e., at least 6 days in advance). We will only cold call to ask students for which you have time to prepare your answers. Although it is a very good idea to write out answers to these questions in advance, we will not be collecting these answers. You are welcome to work with other students to brainstorm possible answers.
Assessment for Participation
The "Participation Rubric" section of the detailed page on assessment gives the rubric I will use in evaluating participation.
As the name suggests, your participation grade in the class rely on your participation, not your attendance. Although we are collecting attendance information using the online form, you will not be "marked down" for attendance. Of course, if you do not attend courses, it will be difficult for you to participate as fully as your classmates.
You will hand in two papers in this class. In both cases, I will ask you to connect something you have experience or knowledge about to course material.
The "Writing Rubric" section of the detailed page on assessment gives the rubric I will use to evaluate these papers.
Project 1: Contributing to Wikipedia
In the first project, you will be asked to learn about Wikipedia, its norms, rules, and processes. With this knowledge, you will all be asked to research and write a new article in Wikipedia on a topic of your choice and to publish this article in the encyclopedia. As part of this process, you will interact with other community members who are not part of the class. Afterward, you will be asked to write a short essay piece to reflect on this process and to connect your experience to the conceptual course material where appropriate.
We will use material from the Wiki Education Foundation (WikiEdu) to help you learn how to participate in Wikipedia. Every Friday during this first component of this class, there will be a assignment due that corresponds to one step in the process of getting involved in Wikipedia. Most weeks this will involve completing learning modules and assignments in a website put together by WikiEdu. These Wikipedia participation assignments won't be synced up with the theory, but they will provide with you lots of opportunity to reflect on the theoretical work we are covering.
Although only Task #6 includes anything that you will need to turn in, you will need to participate in Wikipedia each week. We will be able to see this activity and we will help you. We will take time each week to discuss our progress and experience with Wikipedia in sections on Friday and to connect it explicitly to the theoretical concepts we are covering.
Wikipedia Task #1
- Create an account and start orientation
- Friday January 10
- Make contributions in Wikipedia and the the class WikiEdu dashboard
- Complete the WikiEdu training and assignments for week 1.
- During this training, you will create an account, make edits in a sandbox, and learn the basic rules of the Wikipedia community.
- Once you have created an account, you must enroll in the course so that your account on Wikipedia is associated with the course and so that I can track your activity on Wikipedia. Click this link to enroll in the course. If you are asked for a passcode, you can enter ratxwlye.
Wikipedia Task #2
- Complete Wikipedia orientation and choose article topic
- Due Date
- Friday January 17
- Make contributions in Wikipedia and the the class WikiEdu dashboard
- Complete the online training topics for week 2.
- To practice editing and communicating on Wikipedia, introduce yourself to Salt and at least one classmate on Wikipedia (it can be anybody). Salt's username is Altsalt and you can find a list of all of your classmates on the WikiEdu class page.
- Decide on an article in Wikipedia that you would like to significantly expand and improve. Please choose an article that is as short and simple as possible and we stronglly recommend that you choose a "stub" article on Wikipedia. Because some people are going to start with articles that are better than others, we're going to assess you on the amount to which you can improve the article—not on the final state of the article.
You can find a list of Stub articles arranged by topic here (there are literally millions):
- List of Stubs — This is an extremely long list of articles that are currently stubs and which is also sorted into categories and then subcategories. It might be a little bit out of date so be sure to click through before you decide on an article.
If there is a topic you know you are interested in writing about that doesn't have an article, that is also possible but will be more difficult so we're recommending against that relatively strongly. If you're committed to doing that in any case, there are a few resources you might find helpful:
- Requested Articles — This is a list of articles that others have asked to be created. It is sorted into categories and sub-categories. When you're looking at the list, remember that it's possible that somebody else has "gotten" to them first and forgot to remove it. Remember that a red link indicates that there is no page with that name.
Wikipedia Task #3
- Compile research and write draft
- Due Date
- Friday January 24
- Make contributions in Wikipedia and the the class WikiEdu dashboard
- Complete online trainings for week 3
- Compile a bibliography of relevant research.
- Write a 2-3 paragraph summary version of your article—with citations—in your Wikipedia sandbox.
- Add the URL For your sandboxed article to yourself on the course WikiEdu page by clicking the assign article button next to your name and assigning the URL for your sandbox to yourself.
Wikipedia Task #4
- Peer review other students' articles
- Due Date
- Friday January 31
- Make contributions in Wikipedia and the the class WikiEdu dashboard
- Select two' classmates’ articles that you will peer review and copy-edit. To sign up, you can mark this in the the dashboard by using the Assign a review button. Try to pick articles that other students are not yet reviewing.
- Peer review two of your classmates’ articles. Leave suggestions on the article talk pages for how to improve them.
- Improve and copy-edit the two reviewed articles to help fix issues, improve sourcing, create a more neutral or encyclopedic tone, etc.
Wikipedia Task #5
- Make article "live."
- Due Date
- Friday February 7
- Make contributions in Wikipedia and the the class WikiEdu dashboard
- Begin polishing your article.
- Move sandbox articles into the "(Article)" name space by using the "Move" tab, by setting the namespace to "(Article)" and by setting the page title to be whatever you want the article to be named.
- Once you have moved the article, visit the list of students in the WikiEdu dashboard and (a) assign the new URL to yourself and (b) remove the old one by clicking the "+" button to open the menu and using the "-" button next to the old "sandbox" copy of your article. You need to press "Save" at the top of the page once you are done.
Wikipedia Task #6
- Finalize article and turn in report
- Due Date
- Monday February 17
- As always, make contributions in Wikipedia and the the class WikiEdu dashboard
- Maximum length for report
- 1000 words (~4 pages double spaced)
Turn your report your reflection essay as a subpage of your userpage. For example, I would create mine with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Benjamin_Mako_Hill/Report as the URL. Of course, you should replace "Benjamin_Mako_Hill" with your Wikipedia username. You can also just go to your userpage by clicking on your username on Wikipedia and then adding "/Report" at the end of the the URL.
When you go that page, it will say Wikipedia does not have a user page with this exact name.
You can create the new page by just clicking the "Create" tab on that page. When you're done, you can paste the URL into Canvas.
Your Wikipedia article will be evaluated based on your demonstrated understanding of Wikipedia rules and policies. Is it a good article by Wikipedia's standards?
In addition to finishing up your Wikipedia article, everybody should turn in a report reflecting on your experience contributing to Wikipedia in light of your experience and the course material and, most importantly, offering advice to the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikipedia Community on how to improve their community. I want you all to treat this as a dress rehearsal for your final projects.
Your report will be evaluated, first and foremost, on the degree to which it provides useful, informed, and actionable advice to the Wikipedia community and the Wikimedia Foundation. It will also be evaluated on the degree to which you engage with the course material. See the writing rubric for details on my expectations in terms of the content of the papers. A successful essay will do the following things:
- Provide detailed, concrete, and actionable advice to the Wikipedia community and the Wikimedia Foundation. What should Wikipedia think about doing? What should they think about changing?
- Comment directly on your experience in Wikipedia. What did you do and what did you learn?
- Connect your experience in Wikipedia explicitly to the concepts in the course material we have covered. Justify your recommendations in terms of the theories and principles we've covered. Why should your recommendations be taken more seriously than just random advice from one new user?
- If possible, reflect on what parts of the theories or concepts we covered applied or didn't. You don't have to take everything taught in the course for granted. What would you change or add based on your experience? What is unique or different about Wikipedia?
We will give everybody in the course feedback on their assignment. The basic structure is shorter, but extremely similar, to what you will be doing in the final project. As a result, you can treat this as a "mid-term" and make adjustments based on feedback.
Project 2: Critical Analysis of an Online Community
For the final assignment, I want you to take what you've learned in the class and apply it to a community you have observed or participated in. This project will involve two written assignments and a presentation.
- Maximum Length
- 300 words (~1 page double spaced)
- Turn in through Canvas
- Due Date
- Friday February 21
In this assignment, you should identify a community you are interested in — and that you hope to analyze critically in your final project. In this assignment, I am asking you to write 1-2 paragraphs explaining what community you want to study, why you care about it, and why you think it would be a rich site for reflection. If relevant or possible, it might be useful to also provide a link.
I am hoping that each of you will pick a community that you are intellectually committed to and invested in your personal or work life. You should also keep in mind that you will be presenting this publicly to the class.
You will be successful in this assignment if you identify a community and clearly explain why you think it would be a useful community to study using the concepts we have covered in the class.
I will give you feedback on these write-ups and will let you each know if I think you have identified a project that might be too ambitious, too trivial, too broad, too narrow, etc.
Final Projects: Critical Analysis of Online Community
- Poster Presentation Date
- March 9 and 11
- Paper Due Date
- March 18 @ 9am
- Maximum paper length
- 2,000 words (~8 pages double spaced)
For your final project, I expect students to build on the community identification assignment to describe what they have done and what they have found. I'll expect every student to give both:
- A short presentation to the class (5-6 minutes)
- A final report that is not more than 2,000 words (~8 pages double spaced)
Each project should include: (a) the description of the community you have identified (you are welcome to borrow from your Community Identification assignment), (b) a description of how you would use the course concepts to change and improve the community.
You will be evaluated on the degree to which you have demonstrated that you understand and have engaged with the course material and not on specifics of your community. I want you to reflect on what parts of theory we covered apply or do not. What does the community do right according to what you've learned? What might it do differently in the future based on what you've read? What did the course and readings not teach that they should have?
A successful project will tell a compelling story and will engage with, and improve upon, the course material to teach an audience that includes me, your classmates, and students taking this class in future years, how to take advantage of online communities more effectively. The very best papers will give us all a new understanding of some aspect of course material and change the way I teach some portion of this course in the future.
I will follow the very detailed grading rubric described on this page Teaching Assessment, which Mako (my advisor and supervisor for this course) put together. Please read it carefully I will assign grades for each of following items on the UW 4.0 grade scale according to the weights below:
- Participation: 30%
- Wikipedia assignments: 15%
- Wikipedia reflection essay: 10%
- Community identification: 5%
- Final Presentation: 10%
- Final Paper: 30%
January 6 (Monday): Intro and Wikipedia
- Lecture Slides for Introduction (Requires UW Access)
- Lecture Slides for Course Overview (Requires UW Access)
Goals for the day:
- Collect some basic information from you all
- Provide an introduction and some context for the course (and hopefully get you excited about the rest of the quarter)
- Review the course objectives and requirements
January 8 (Wednesday): Motivation
- Reading Note (Requires UW Access)
- BSOC, Chapter 2, pg 21-40 (Sections 1-3)
- [Case] Modi, Maulik. 2019. “Yelp — What Happened!!” Medium. December 1, 2019. https://medium.com/@maulikmmodi94/yelp-what-happened-62c325f13235. [Available free online]
- [Case] Parikh, Anish A., Carl Behnke, Doug Nelson, Mihaela Vorvoreanu, and Barbara Almanza. 2015. “A Qualitative Assessment of Yelp.Com Users’ Motivations to Submit and Read Restaurant Reviews.” Journal of Culinary Science & Technology 13 (1): 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/15428052.2014.952474. [Available in Canvas]
- [Case] Stone, Madeline. 2014. “Elite Yelpers Hold Immense Power, and They Get Treated like Kings by Bars and Restaurants Trying to Curry Favor.” Business Insider. August 22, 2014. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-become-yelp-elite-2014-8. [Available free online]
- [Case] Ha, Anthony. 2017. “Yelp Launches New Feature for Asking and Answering Questions about Any Business.” TechCrunch (blog). February 14, 2017. http://social.techcrunch.com/2017/02/14/yelp-q-and-a/. [Available free online]
- BSOC, Chapter 1, pg 1-17
January 10 (Friday) Section: Wikipedia Assignments
January 13 (Monday): Motivation
- Week 2 Reading Note (Requires UW Access)
- BSOC, Chapter 2, pg 41-70 (Sections 4-7)
For the case, we're going to talk about Twitch:
- [Case] Clark, Taylor. 2017. “How to Get Rich Playing Video Games Online.” New Yorker, November 13, 2017. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/11/20/how-to-get-rich-playing-video-games-online. [Available free online]
- [Case] Hernandez, Patricia. 2018. “The Twitch Streamers Who Spend Years Broadcasting to No One.” The Verge. July 16, 2018. https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/16/17569520/twitch-streamers-zero-viewers-motivation-community. [Available free online]
- [Case] “The Differences Between Twitch Partner and Affiliate Programs.” 2019. GameOnAire (blog). April 5, 2019. https://gameonaire.com/differences-between-partner-affiliate-twitch/. [Available free online]
- [Case] “Achievements.” n.d. Twitch. Accessed January 7, 2020. https://help.twitch.tv/s/article/achievements?language=en_US. [Available free online]
- [Case] Grayson, Nathan. 2018. “Twitch Partners Feeling Burned After Affiliates Receive Features That Took Them Years To Earn.” Kotaku. June 14, 2018. https://kotaku.com/twitch-partners-feeling-burned-after-affiliates-receive-1826810027. [Available free online]
- [Case] Mike Linksvayer's article on "I support advertising on Wikipedia"
January 15 (Wednesday): Commitment
- Week 3 Reading Note (Requires UW Access)
- BSOC, Chapter 3, pg 77-102 (Section 1)
In this case, we're going to be looking at five different "subreddit" communities within Reddit. In some of these cases, there is an enormous amount of material on the pages and subpages. Poke around for 10 minutes or so (please not more!) until you get a sense for who is participating and how and why people build commitment to the site such that you will be comfortable answering the questions in the reading note. Please do not post on the sites or disrupt them in any way. We're guests in their communities and you only need to look:
- [Case] /r/aww — "Things that make you go AWW! -- like puppies, bunnies, babies, and so on..."
- [Case] /r/udub — "the unofficial subreddit of the University of Washington"
- [Case] r/SeattleWA — "the active Reddit community for Seattle, Washington and the Puget Sound area"
- [Case] r/NoSleep — "a place for authors to share their original horror stories"
- [Case] r/CasualPizzaCats - a World of Warcraft guild
January 17 (Friday) Section
January 20 (Monday): NO CLASS
No class due to the observation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Day.
January 22 (Wednesday): Commitment
- BSOC, Chapter 3, pg 102-115 (Sections 2 - 4)
- [Case] Romano, Aja. 2018. “How Facebook Made It Impossible to Delete Facebook.” Vox. March 22, 2018.
- [Case] Choudary, Sangeet Paul. 2014. “Reverse Network Effects: Why Today’s Social Networks Can Fail as They Grow Larger.” Wired, March 13, 2014.Wi
- [Case] Constine, Josh. 2018. “Facebook Shouldn’t Block You from Finding Friends on Competitors.” TechCrunch (blog). April 13, 2018.
- [Case] Bankston, Kevin. 2018. “How We Can ‘Free’ Our Facebook Friends.” New America. June 28, 2018.
- [Case] Hill, Benjamin Mako. 2012. “Why Facebook’s Network Effects Are Overrated.” Copyrighteous (blog). June 4, 2012.
January 24 (Friday) Section
January 27 (Monday): Rules and Governance
- BSOC, Chapter 4, pg 125-140 (Sections 1-3)
- [Tentative] [Case] Ubuntu Code of Conduct
- [Tentative] [Case] GNOME Code of Conduct
- [Tentative] [Case] Geek Feminism Code of Conduct
- [Tentative] [Case] Valerie Aurora's essay on HOWTO design a code of conduct for your community, Ada Initiative (For context, you should know that Aurora is one of the authors of the the Geek Feminism code.)
January 29 (Wednesday): Rules and Governance
Benjamin Mako Hill will not be attending class today. Wm Salt Hale will be coordinating the case in his place.
- BSOC, Chapter 4, pg 140-170 (Sections 4-5)
- Kiene, C., Monroy-Hernández, A., & Hill, B. M. (2016). Surviving an “Eternal September”: How an Online Community Managed a Surge of Newcomers. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1152–1156). New York, NY, USA: ACM.
- [Tentative] [Case] Slashdot: Spend 5-10 minutes to visit the homepage, look at a story you think is interesting, and read several of the comments, paying specific attention to the rating system.
- [Tentative] [Case] Slashdot Moderation FAQ, 2014
- [Tentative] [Case] Lampe, Cliff, and Paul Resnick. “Slash(Dot) and Burn: Distributed Moderation in a Large Online Conversation Space.” In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 543–50. CHI ’04. New York, NY, USA: ACM, 2004. doi:10.1145/985692.985761. [Official Link (available through UW libraries)] [Author Website (available for free)]
- [Tentative] [Case] Know Your Meme, 2014, Rules of the Internet
- [Tentative] J. Nathan Matias. 2016. Going Dark: Social Factors in Collective Action Against Platform Operators in the Reddit Blackout. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1138-1151. [Official Link (available through UW libraries)] [(available through Author's website]
January 31 (Friday) Section
February 3 (Monday): Newcomers
- BSOC, Chapter 5, pg 179-205 (Sections 1-2)
We're going to look at the citizen science community Zooniverse and the project "Planet Hunters" in particular. We're going to talk about how the community might deal with (not so hypothetical!) major influx of new users:
- [Case] Visit Zooniverse and create an account. Then visit the Planet Hunters website and log in with your account. Spent 10-15 minutes on the site figure out how it work and doing a few tasks.
- [Case] Mugar, G., Østerlund, C., Hassman, K. D., Crowston, K., & Jackson, C. B. (2014). Planet Hunters and Seafloor Explorers: Legitimate Peripheral Participation Through Practice Proxies in Online Citizen Science. In Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 109–119). New York, NY, USA: ACM. [Available through UW libraries]
- Huang, Shih-Wen, Minhyang (Mia) Suh, Benjamin Mako Hill, Gary Hsieh. (2015) “How Activists are Both Born and Made: An Analysis of Users on Change.org.” In Proceedings of the Conference on Computer Human Interaction (CHI 2015). ACM Press. [Preprint Link (Free Online)] [Official Link (Available through UW libraries)]
- Shaw, Aaron, and Benjamin Mako Hill. (2014) “Laboratories of Oligarchy? How the Iron Law Extends to Peer Production: Laboratories of Oligarchy.” Journal of Communication 64, no. 2 (April 2014): 215–38. doi:10.1111/jcom.12082. [Official Link (Available through UW Libraries) [Preprint Link (Free Online)]
February 5 (Wednesday): Newcomers
- BSOC, Chapter 5, pg 205-223 (Sections 3-6)
- [Tentative] [Case] Morgan et al., "Tea and sympathy: crafting positive new user experiences on Wikipedia" Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW '13), Pages 839-848, ACM New York, NY, USA, 2013. [Official Link (Available through UW libraries)] [(Free Online)]
- [Tentative] [Case] Visit 'the Teahouse on Wikipedia. In particular, spend time on these three pages and associated sub-questions:
- Teahouse questions forum: What do the questions here tell you about the kinds of challenges that new editors face? How does this jibe with your own experience as a new Wikipedian?
- Teahouse host profiles: What do the profiles on this page tell you about the demographics and motivations of Teahouse Hosts? Does anything about the Teahouse host characteristics and motivations you read in these profiles surprise you? Why or why not?
- Teahouse guest profiles and Guest book: What do the profiles on this page tell you about the demographics and motivations of Teahouse visitors? Does anything about the Teahouse guest characteristics and motivations you read in these profiles surprise you? Why or why not?
- [Tentative] Halfaker, A., Stuart Geiger, R., Morgan, J. T., & Riedl, J. (2013). The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration System: How Wikipedia’s Reaction to Popularity Is Causing Its Decline. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(5), 664–688. [(Access through UW libraries)] [(Open Access)]
- [Tentative] Nathan TeBlunthuis, Aaron Shaw, and Benjamin Mako Hill. 2018. Revisiting "The Rise and Decline" in a Population of Peer Production Projects. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Paper 355, 7 pages. [(Open Access)]
- [Tentative] Jonathan T. Morgan and Aaron Halfaker. 2018. Evaluating the impact of the Wikipedia Teahouse on newcomer socialization and retention. In Proceedings of the 14th International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym '18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Article 20, 7 pages. https://www.opensym.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/OpenSym2018_paper_15-1.pdf
February 7 (Friday) Section
February 10 (Monday): Creating New Communities
- BSOC, Chapter 6, pg 231-248 (Sections 1-2)
- [Case] Stack Exchange article on Wikipedia and list of sites
- [Case] Area 51 (Click through and explore 5-6 proposals at different stages)
- [Case] Area 51 FAQ
February 12 (Wednesday): Creating New Communities
- BSOC, Chapter 6, pg 248-276 (Sections 3-4)
- Hill, Benjamin Mako. Almost Wikipedia, 2013.
- [Tentative] [Case] Snowdrift.coop: Read at least the top page, about page, how it works, the original intro, mission, FAQ, "How to Help" page, and next steps page and poke around on the rest of the site.
- [Tentative] Bilton, Nick. “All Is Fair in Love and Twitter.” The New York Times, October 9, 2013, sec. Magazine.
February 14 (Friday) Section
February 17 (Monday): NO CLASS
No class due to the observation of Presidents' Day.
February 19 (Wednesday): Wikipedia Debrief
In the first half of today's class we'll hear from a series of local Wikipedia researchers.
In the second half of class, we will have a visit from local Wikipedia group Cascadia Wikimedians (full disclosure, I am a member). Prepare to give a very short (~1 minute ) in-class presentation about your Wikipedia editing experience and also be ready with questions for them about your experience or about Wikipedia in general based on the readings and cases we've done so far.
February 21 (Friday) Section
February 24 (Monday): Learning Communities
- Roque, R.; Dasgupta, S.; Costanza-Chock, S. Children’s Civic Engagement in the Scratch Online Community. Soc. Sci. 2016, 5, 55. Open Access
- Brennan, K., Monroy‐Hernández, A., & Resnick, M. (2010). Making projects, making friends: Online community as catalyst for interactive media creation. New directions for youth development, 2010(128), 75-83. PDF From MIT.edu
- [Case] https://scratch.mit.edu: Visit the site. Read the about page, the the information for parents, and for educators. Watch all the videos. Spend some time exploring and run some programs (try to find at least one animation and at least one game).
- [Case] https://www.blockstud.io/: For the case we're going to compare scratch to a different: Block Studio. This is an experimental project by Raoul, a PhD student at UW. Click start and watch the three lessons. You don't have to actually make any games with Block Studio, but do learn how it works as much as you can. After that survey the published projects.
February 26 (Wednesday): Social Computing Systems
We have a special guest this week: Andrés Monroy-Hernandez! Andrés was previously at Microsoft Research and is currently a lead research scientist at Snap Inc., the maker of Snapchat. Andrés has research interests ranging from civic communities to educational communities and more recently he is focusing on "social computing systems," which we will learn about today.
- Howe, J. (2006). The rise of crowdsourcing. Wired Magazine, 14(6), 1–4.
- [Case] Amazon Mechanical Turk Requester UI Guide
- [Case] Amazon Mechanical Turk Best Practices Guide.
Our guest speaker will be talking about these three papers. It might be good to look these over before class:
- Justin Cranshaw, Emad Elwany, Todd Newman, Rafal Kocielnik, Bowen Yu, Sandeep Soni, Jaime Teevan, and Andrés Monroy-Hernández. 2017. Calendar.help: Designing a Workflow-Based Scheduling Agent with Humans in the Loop. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2382-2393. (Open Access)
- Cranshaw, J., Monroy-Hernández, A., & Needham, S. A. (2016). Journeys & Notes: Designing Social Computing for Non-Places. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 4722–4733). New York, NY, USA: ACM. [Available through UW libraries]
- Agapie, E., & Monroy-Hernández, A. (2015). Eventful: Crowdsourcing Local News Reporting. arXiv:1507.01300 [Cs].
February 28 (Friday) Section
March 2 (Wednesday ): Hackers
- Rosenbaum. (1971). Secrets of the Little Blue Box (This article was reprinted in Slate in 2011.
- Larkin. (2004). Degraded images, distorted sounds: Nigerian video and the infrastructure of piracy.
- [Case] Wayner, Peter. “Tweaking a Camera to Suit a Hobby.” The New York Times, May 26, 2010, sec. Technology / Personal Tech. Free Online
- [Case] C.H.D.K. Wiki Take a look at the [Home page https://chdk.fandom.com/wiki/CHDK] and explore the Wiki to get a good idea of what this community is about, what they do, and how it works.
- Mollick, Ethan. “Tapping into the Underground.” MIT Sloan Management Review 46, no. 4 (2005): 21. [Available through UW Libraries]
- Mollick, Ethan. “The Engine of the Underground: The Elite-Kiddie Divide.” SIGGROUP Bull. 25, no. 2 (2005): 23–27. [Available through UW Libraries]
- Scacchi, Walt. “Computer Game Mods, Modders, Modding, and the Mod Scene.” First Monday 15, no. 5 (2010). [Free Online]
March 4 (Wednesday): Interactions Between Communities
Guest Lecture: Nathan TeBlunthuis
- [To Be Decided]
March 6 (Friday) Section
March 9 (Monday): Final Poster Presentations
No readings. The final classes will be devoted entirely to poster presentations in the MGH commons.
March 11 (Wednesday): Final Poster Presentations
No readings. The final classes will be devoted entirely to presentations.
March 13 (Friday) Section
Your Presence in Class
As detailed in section on participation and cases and in my page on assessment, class participation is an important way that we assess learning in the class. Obviously, you must be in class in order to participate. If you need to miss class for any reason, please fill out the course absence form so that we know you are not coming and do not include you in our cold call list. In the event of an absence, you are responsible for obtaining class notes, handouts, assignments, etc.
There are many students who have eagerly requested to join the class, but there are not enough seats. I want to include as many students in the class as possible, we will automatically drop anyone who misses the first two class sessions and try to replace them with unenrolled students who do attend. This is consistent with college policy and with the course description in the catalog.
Devices in Class
Electronic devices (e.g., phones, tablets, laptops) are not going to permitted in class. If you have a documented need to use a device, please contact me ahead of time to let me know. If you do get permission to use a device, I will ask you to sit in the very back of the classroom.
The goal of this policy is to help you stay focused and avoid distractions for yourself and your peers in the classroom. This is really important and turns out to be much more difficult in the presence of powerful computing devices with brightly glowing screens and fast connections to the Internet. For more on the rationale behind this policy, please read Clay Shirky’s thoughtful discussion of his approach to this issue.
Benjamin Mako Hill will hold office Hours on Thursdays 1-2pm in Communications (CMU) 333.
Wm Salt Hale will hold office Hours on Monday 12-1pm in Communications (CMU) 333.
If our planned office hours do not work for you, please contact either of us over email to arrange a meeting at another time.
Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.
The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at https://www.washington.edu/studentconduct/ Safety
Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 anytime–no matter where you work or study–to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested.
This includes: cheating on assignments, plagiarizing (misrepresenting work by another author as your own, paraphrasing or quoting sources without acknowledging the original author, or using information from the internet without proper citation), and submitting the same or similar paper to meet the requirements of more than one course without instructor approval. Academic dishonesty in any part of this course is grounds for failure and further disciplinary action. The first incident of plagiarism will result in the student’s receiving a zero on the plagiarized assignment. The second incident of plagiarism will result in the student’s receiving a zero in the class.
If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to uw at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.
If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or firstname.lastname@example.org or disability.uw.edu. DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.
Other Student Support
Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the graduate program advisor for support. Furthermore, please notify the professors if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable us to provide any resources that we may possess (adapted from Sara Goldrick-Rab). Please also note the student food pantry, Any Hungry Husky at the ECC.
Credit and Notes
This will be the fourth time this course has been taught at UW in its current form. This syllabuses draws heavily from these previous versions. Syllabuses from earlier classes can be found online at:
- Interpersonal Media (Winter 2019) by Nate TeBlunthuis
- Interpersonal Media (Fall 2015) by Mako Hill
- Interpersonal Media (Fall 2014) by Mako Hill
This syllabus was inspired by, and borrowed heavily with permission from, other classes on online communities taught by young academics whose teaching I admire and respect: