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Data Science

Health Factor 4: Liveliness

After a month of digression, let's come back to the topic of health factors. Previously, we have covered the three diagnostic health factors:

  1. Traffic
  2. Content
  3. Members

In the next three post, we will explore the predictive health factors. Base on all of your valuable feedbacks, I got the impression that Liveliness is the factor that has raised the most questions. So I will begin with this health factor.


Liveliness.jpgThe Liveliness Health Factor

A number of people have asked:  what is liveliness? The liveliness health factor is a perception of the amount of activity within a given space, so it is a measure for the concentration of activities. This health factor is extremely important, because it strongly influences a user's propensity to participate. In fact, liveliness gives an estimate of the likelihood of active participation for community users. The more lively the community appears to be, the more likely an individual is to participate. It's logical to think that a lively community is more likely to respond to the user's question or comment.


Concentration of Activity = Perception of Liveliness

Although modern communities furnish users with many activities, posting messages is still the most visible action that is going to influence a user's perception of the community's liveliness. Since other activities (such as rating contents, tagging messages, chatting with other members, etc.) are less noticeable, they have much less effect on the perceived liveliness of the community.


Look at the above picture and ask yourself: what make it lively? This picture looks lively to a spectator because the children are concentrated, and there are a lot of visible actions. This playground would be much less lively if the same group of children were dispersed throughout the park.


Since liveliness is a concentration measure, the absolute amount of post is not very important. For example, if your community has 200 posts per week and there are 4 boards, then each board gets 50 posts per week on average. That is more than 7 posts a day! Users would perceive this as a pretty lively community. In contrary, if there are 50 boards (same 200 posts per week), then each board will only get 4 posts per week. That is less than 1 post a day! Even though the absolute amount of posting activity is the same (200 per week), the former example has a much higher concentration of post, and therefore gives the perception of greater liveliness than the latter example.


The Current and Future of Liveliness

The question that is often raised is "Do you excluded private boards, archived boards, read-only boards, etc, when computing the liveliness health factor?" In the current version of CHI, the liveliness calculation only excludes boards that are hidden or under a hidden category. These hidden boards may contain some private or archived boards, but they probably do not encompass all of them, and it certainly does not include read-only boards or announcements boards. Consequently, communities with many of these "non-public" boards may appear to have a lower liveliness, because our current calculation may not excluded all boards that are not intended for public participation.


Like the content health factor, liveliness is currently computed at the community level, which prohibits drilling down to identify of categories or boards that are not lively. These two items are already on our roadmaps of to-do items. If you can think of others, please let me know. Also, if there are any questions about liveliness that I did not cover, please bring it up . Let's try to make this a lively discussion.



Good arguement for consolidating the number of boards.


We have struggled with this as we have a separate board dedicated to discussion/support of our top 6 key products. We chose this structure so that customers could quickly find information about their product. Issues related to one product are unlikely to be relevant to other products, so it's way to create relevant dialogue in the each board and avoid having users sort through posts that are not relevant to them.


This approach appears to cut down on the number of duplicate posts about the same issue since customers can more easily scan existing issues. With fewer boards, we found that users weren't taking the time to read through pages of previous posts and simply reposted an issue that had already been addressed.


We definitely have work to do to find a compromise between focused boards and appearance of activity across the community as a whole.



Data Science

Thanks for the positive affirmation.


I agree that planning your board structure is a delicate art. Our best practice is to start small, than expand if necessary. See post by one of our CSM: Organic Growth in Your Community. It is certainly easier to just have product specific boards, and they are definitely easier to manage and helps keep conversations organized. However, we need to understand at what point users stop browsing and start to use the search function or simple google for the solution. These user behavioral studies are part of the research that is being carried out at Lithium. If you need further assistance, our CSM teams will be able to help you plan the most appropriate board structure for growing a successful community.

I'm wondering what other dimensions in the CIC will determine a community's liveliness. The reason I ask is because our CHI score seems to have dropped along the liveliness dimension over the past month or two but "average posts per board" is not suffereing. Do you know what other factors affect "liveliness" as far as the CIC is concerned? 


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