Notes from Dissertation Writing: Sport communities on Australian social network

This entry was posted by Laura on Sunday, 19 December, 2010 at

My dissertation needs a lot of editing. Luckily, I have two highly educated parents. These parents are also exceptionally nice. I’ve basically roped them into editing my dissertation. They’ve heard about my fandom analysis for about 12 years now. The topic isn’t completely foreign to them. Babbling.

Anyway, they are editing my dissertation and an issue has come up: Where do I explain how specific sport social media communities function? And how do I do this? They’ve made the argument that a lot of this content feels irrelevant and offtopic. It would best be addressed as a separate chapter, after my lit review or my methodology. They think it would be a good idea to talk about world rank, Australian website rank and New Zealand website rank. They think I should talk in general about who uses them, why they use them, how people can interact and form community on these sites. If this is done, I don’t need to be as repetitive with this content inside my chapter. At the same time, I will also help people who are not familiar with various social networks and websites gain familiarity with them: Not everyone in the Australian sport marketing/history/sociology space has the same knowledge expertise that I have and this chapter would bridge that.

On one level, yeah, doing that makes sense. On another level? No. That sort of analysis is often at the heart of my research. This is the existing community and this is how it responds to controversy. Removing that information from inside chapters takes away a lot of the context. I’m also leery to do it because in the chapter, the fact that I’m doing qualitative, contextual analysis can kind of be hidden. I don’t need all the citations for it. If I pull it out, I would likely need to improve the citing of these observations and do a separate qualitative methodology. Again, I’m not sure how to go about doing that. I can kind of tell you how Australia’s sport Facebook community functions but it isn’t universal and it changes when Facebook changes settings. (Except the Wests Tigers don’t behave like the Canberra Raiders who don’t behave like Anna Meares fans who don’t behave like the GWS Giants.) E-Bay’s community of people listing merchandise I haven’t quite figured out yet as I don’t have the data for it. Wikipedia is probably the most consistent but how it functions and its demographics are part of the results. If LiveJournal has a major privacy controversy, it could lead to an exodus of users. This might impact the chapters 9, 10, 11 but the change predates chapters 4, 5, 6. Hence, it makes sense to me to put this information inside the chapter.

There are good arguments both ways. I can see where my parents are coming from. I just am not sure I agree with them. To me, given the different nature of the communities, the explanations need to take place inside chapters. It also feels like the summaries I’d be doing for these sites are part of the conclusions I am ultimately drawing.

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  • Adelaide La Blanche-Dupont

    I agree with your parents that World/Australia/New Zealand rank would be a very good idea, in keeping with the general quantitative orientation of Online Fandom.

    And I see the point about “inside chapters”.

    Summaries point to a conclusion without stating it, at least the ones at the beginning or in the middle often do. The ones at the end do state it.

    I really want to know how the Facebook fans behave! Especially that Zuckerberg was Person of the Year in Time for 2010.

  • LauraH

    So much of this seems to be dependent on the network and the sport team involved. If a team engages, it changes the dynamic on Facebook and Twitter. If a team or their fans use a group instead of a fanpage, the dynamics again change. Community size also changed. I think the AFL and NRL fanpages have grown about 100,000 fans since the Melbourne Storm controversy happened. During that time, the Storm and the Raiders also got on top of their official fanpages. (Prior to that, they had user profiles.) Adding to that, rank for sites changes on a semi-regular basis.

    That sort of behavioral change is why I’m hesitant to put a new chapter in because it almost becomes a mini history of a site unto itself. In some ways, it is much easier to do dead sites, where the user base is stagnant and where they have stopped adding new features.

  • Adelaide La Blanche-Dupont

    It’s peculiar to talk about the “deadness” of any particular site. They may well be dormant or sleeping.

    And a site which is “alive” might not show it.

    It still would be good to see the rank changes.

    The Storm and the Raiders: are they leaders in Facebook pages?

  • LauraH

    I can’t see bebo or LiveJournal making a real come back. Ditto with mySpace and Yahoo!Groups. They appear pretty dead. :/

    The Storm and the Raiders aren’t leaders the last time I looked.

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