Collaboration and Communication in Online Environments: A Social Entropy Approach
Despite the fact that diverse and equal participation of members is considered to be the essence of true online communities, no compelling index has been proposed to measure the degree of diversity in terms of contributions of content to online social environments. The primary purpose of the paper is to reintroduce to the communication field a tool particularly suited for measuring diversity and equality of participation. This paper argues that the notion of social entropy, as defined in information theory, can be applied to measure participatory diversity and is especially suitable for characterizing online groups. Adopting social entropy researchers can better and more systematically (i) estimate participatory diversity of online communities or groups; (ii) compare different online groups in terms of participatory diversity; (iii) evaluate changes of contribution over time; (v) understand online interaction dynamics at small and large group scales.