Home > Communities of Practice, Social Media > How to deal with information overload in Hotseats and Online discussions

How to deal with information overload in Hotseats and Online discussions

Seven MonthsThanks to Richard Millington atfeverbee  for the great blog about Information overload in online communities.  Its good timing as usual as I look back on the online discussion for the Social Media Weekon the Knowledge Hub via the#localgov gets social group

It was so successful that it broke one of the forums that we where using and had to start another thread.

Richard Millington mentioned in his blog that Jones et al. (2008) (don’t you love academic referencing?) found empirical evidence that information overload significantly constrained interaction between members.

They discovered that 40 participants interacting within 20 minutes was the maximum number which could be sustained. 

As the volume of messages increases. Users are:

1) More likely to respond to simpler messages (shorter, dumber, fun).

2) More likely to end active participation.

3) More likely to generate simpler responses. 

40 participants might not be the exact number, especially within forum platforms.

But there is a number…and that number is very important.

Beyond that number the quality of interaction plummets, the number of active members plummets (in favour of fewer, highly active members, posting silly comments to each other). 

Your mileage with any of these routes will vary. What’s important is the number. It exists. It might be 40 participants in 20 minutes, it might be 100 in 10. Make sure you identify your number and prevent information overload.

Thanks to Richard this is something that I’m more aware of now.

Over the years we introduced a concept called the Hotseat to the Communities of Practice platform where it “enables participants to ask a person in the hotseat (usually an expert in the field) questions to which they can respond over a set period of time”.

And this will continue within the Knowledge Hub.

So why is all this important.  Well during our session led expertly by @mick_rea and @jamie_kirk on the topic of the role of social media in local government. In a two hour period we had 27 participants, 190 contributions and over 1000 views.

So make sure that if you have a hot topic for discussion that you allow enough time to stop the information overload, which will allow a greater chance of participation.

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