Posts Tagged Wikipedia

An Australian sport wiki

Posted by Laura on Monday, 11 October, 2010

I’m currently toying around with the idea of creating a large Australian sport wiki. I’ve had a lot of data for a while to allow me to do this. Some of the data I have includes:

  • A list of Australian sport teams.  List is about 3,000 teams long.  It often contains some other information like when teams were founded, team colors, etc.  This can be combined with a list of Australian sport teams on Twitter and Facebook.
  • A list of Australian sport venues.  This can be merged with a list of Australian sport venues on Gowalla and Foursquare.
  • A list of Australian athletes on Twitter and Facebook.  This is probably about 100 large.
  • A list of Australian sport organizations on Twitter and Facebook.  This is probably about 50 large.
  • A list of Australian sport fans on Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal and its clones, bebo, orkut, Wikipedia.  This list is probably close to about 20,000 long.

This data could easily be supplemented with the following information that would be easily mineable:

  • A list of AFL, NRL and other Australian professional athletes sorted by team.
  • A list of other Australian athletes.
  • A list of Australian sport organizations.
  • A list of Australian sport journalists and broadcasters.
  • A list of Australian sport websites.

This list could be further supplemented by:

  • Importing Australian sport pictures from Flickr.
  • Importing Australian sport videos from YouTube.

The quality of the wiki wouldn’t necessarily be all that high.  Most of the initial content would be stub.  Still, if I had a bot programmer and I was willing to devote a month to the project, it would be reasonably comprehensive in terms of initial content for others to use to build from.  It would possibly help in terms of developing a large idea of the scope of sport in Australia by giving an idea as to the size of the fan community, the depth of the interest in various sports, the number of teams, when those teams were created and folded, where sports are more popular than others.  (Though that all depends on the data mining that goes into the initial content.)  What keeps me from doing this is the fact that I feel like it might be a time sink of a month to create this content and I’m not sure if the time sink is worth the effort.  Basically, I need external motivation.

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Expanded Profile of Australian En-WP users

Posted by Laura on Sunday, 10 October, 2010

My dissertation topic involves doing a demographic and geographic study of Australian sport fandom online. There are several sites and social networks where you can get publicly available demographic data to begin to formulate a picture of the user population, and then segment that population out by interest in a league, sport and athlete. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal. Recently, partly because of a trip to the Wikimedia Foundation and discussions with a few people at UCNISS, my interest in who was contributing to Australian sport wiki articles on Wikipedia increased.

Finding out who edited Wikipedia articles using publicly available information is a bit of a challenge. The most reliable information for who edited comes from IP address information. IP addresses can provide an idea as to the geographic location of the contributor. It is easy enough, with the help of a friend, to create a tool that pull the history of a Wikipedia article, get a list of IP addresses that edited the article, feed the IP address into another tool that will pull up the general location of the contributor. (One of my favorite visualizations of this type of information is WikipediaVision.) The data isn’t always accurate and if I was looking primarily at New Zealand, a country without its own dedicated IP address range, this would be even less reliable. Still, for my purposes, this data works pretty well.

This data is still pretty limited. There are a lot of articles that are edited by non-anonymous users. Sometimes, it is possible to get demographic and geographic information about Wikipedia contributors by viewing their profile pages. This can just be time consuming to do manually if an article has a large number of contributors as you need to view a lot of user pages. It becomes a deterrence for trying to collect geographic information about article contributors.

I was looking for a more time effective and accurate method of collecting geographic and demographic information about contributors that is publicly available on their user pages. The easiest and quickest way to get this information on a mass scale is to utilize user box information. Many user boxes, when included on a user page, put the user into a category. These categories are often then linked through the Wikipedian category structure. Beyond that, user boxes involve templates. It is easy to get a list of articles (user pages) that the template is included on.

The methodology that I selected from this point is rather straightforward. It involved:

1. Select a category.
2. Copy and paste the list of articles (user pages) in the selected category to an Excel spreadsheet. Sort the list alphabetically. Copy and paste only the user pages to Notepad. Replace * User with blank. Copy and paste this list back to Excel.
3. Create a filter where the cell contains / . Select those cells. Copy them to notepad, replace / with [tab] in order to remove user subpages from the list. Copy this back to Excel. Select only the column with usernames.
4. Run an advance filter in order to remove all duplicate rows.
5. Copy this list back to the dedicated spreadsheet. Label all those users with the category from which they were pulled in a unique column.
6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 until all the categories that you want to have included are included.
7. Merge/Group all the rows by username.

This method may not be the most efficient way of going about doing this. It can probably be improved by automating some of these steps. In my case, step 7 was not able to be completed using Excel. I had to e-mail the file to @woganmay, who I believe converted the file to a mySQL database, used the group feature, converted the results back to csv and e-mailed the file to me.

In my case, I did not complete this for every category. Some categories did not seem worth it time wise as they had too few user pages to be included. In other cases, the categories were just too big to do. This included all the members of User de, User en, User es, User fr, User it, User jp. Only a selected number of categories were included because of time constraints. Data gathering was focused on categories that I perceived would have the greatest number of Australians and other possible contributors to Australian related articles. When these categories were more exhausted, categories with between 1,00 and 5,000 articles were selected.

There are all sort of limitations to this data. First, not everyone includes userboxes on their profile pages. This means that there could be a lot more Australians on Wikipedia than indicated by userbox inclusion on a user page. The assumption for the resulting data is that proportional representation exists for various categories. So while there are X amount of Christians and Y amount of Atheists, the assumption that the relationship between X and Y will always be proportional to the actual population on Wikipedia. Whatever data is available thus has to be viewed as good enough or supplemented by going to individual user ages to see if other information is available when a user appears where no information for someone when running against the history of the article.

Second, even when they do exist, there are often useful pieces of information that are missing. For example, in an Australian context, there is a userbox for Rugby League fans. There is not however a userbox for Australian rules footy fans. There are also not user boxes and categories for fans of NRL or AFL teams. (This type of user box and category exists for National Hockey League teams.)

About halfway through this process, I realized that this data could be useful for analysis beyond who is editing Wikipedia. At the moment, I’ve only totaled data I have for Australians. It is pretty fascinating and would be neat to go further with: How does the proportional size of the Australian Wikipedian population compare against the actual population? Does the size of the Australian Atheist versus Christiah community actively reflect the proportions in Australian society? Or is the Australian Wikipedian community demographically distinct from the greater population?

The following tables include the data based on people who were included in Wikipedians in Australia and its subcategories and Australian Wikipedians. A copy of the raw data can be found at October 9 – Wikipedia English Data – Australians.xls. The data is provided without comment though any attempts at explaining the patterns found are very much appreciated.

Country Count
Bangladesh 3
Canada 2
Egypt 2
India 1
Indonesia 2
Ireland 3
Jamaica 2
Japan 5
New Zealand 17
Papua New Guinea 1
Republic of Ireland 5
Singapore 5
South Africa 2
South Korea 1
Sri Lanka 2
Tanzania 2
Turkey 2
United States 16
State Count
Australian Capital Territory 89
Canterbury 1
New South Wales 345
Northern Territory 5
Otago 1
Queensland 208
South Australia 144
Southland 1
Tasmania 54
Victoria 370
Wellington 2
Western Australia 145
Degree Count
BA degrees 21
BCom degrees 2
BCS degrees 3
BE degrees 18
BMus degrees 1
BS degrees 41
MS degrees 5
PhD degrees 18
University/Alma Mater Count
Australian National University 14
Avondale College 1
Charles Sturt University 1
Curtin University of Technology 7
Deakin University 6
Flinders University 7
Griffith University 1
James Cook University 2
La Trobe University 2
Macquarie University 5
Massey University 1
Monash University 19
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology 10
University of Adelaide 4
University of Alberta 1
University of Canberra 3
University of Melbourne 21
University of New England 4
University of New South Wales 24
University of Newcastle 8
University of Sydney 16
University of Tasmania 3
University of Technology, Sydney 4
University of Western Australia 11
University of Wollongong 4
Victorian College of the Arts 1
Student type Count
Business students 3
College students 26
Law students 9
Medical students 8
University students 59
Website Count
Open Directory Project 1
OpenStreetMap 2
Wookieepedia 1
Religion Count
Anglican and Episcopalian 8
Antitheist 3
Atheist 97
Buddhist 13
Catholic 7
Christian 47
Eastern Orthodox 2
Hindu 1
Jewish 4
Lutheran 1
Methodist 2
Muslim 4
Non-denominational Christian 2
Objectivist 2
Pastafarian 17
Presbyterian 3
Protestant 11
Roman Catholic 10
Ethnicity and nationality Count
Argentine 2
Bangladeshi 2
British 3
English 10
Latino/Hispanic 1
Skill Count
Aircraft pilots 5
Artists 3
Engineers 17
Filmmakers 17
Homebrewers 10
Mechanical engineers 1
Professional writers 1
Surfers 2
Profession Count
Accountants 2
Actor 5
Actuaries 2
Aircraft pilots 5
Biologist 9
Broadcasters 5
Chemist 6
Composers 28
Computer scientists 7
Engineers 17
Filmmakers 17
Geoscientists 2
Mechanical engineers 1
Scientists 7
Teacher 18
University teacher 4
Web designers 2
Web developers 1
Interest Count
Chemistry 27
Cooking 1
Physics 34
Strings (physics) 6
Sports Count
Cavers 2
Cross-country runners 4
Dancers 3
Detroit Red Wings fans 2
Equestrians 2
Fencers 2
Geocachers 8
Hikers 2
Hunters 7
Outdoor pursuits 2
Rugby league fans 50
Runners 2
Sailing 1
Scuba divers 8
Snowboarders 2
Swimmers 16
Swing dancers 1
Toronto Maple Leafs fans 1
Ultimate Fighting Championship fans 2
Vancouver Canucks fans 3
WikiProject Tennis members 4
Wikipedia Status Count
Administrator hopefuls 41
Administrators 45
Administrators who will provide copies of deleted articles 11
Bureaucrats 1
Contribute to Wikimedia Commons 1
Create userboxes 3
Opted out of automatic signing 4
Reviewers 10
Rollbackers 27
Service Award Level 01 12
Service Award Level 02 14
Service Award Level 03 10
Service Award Level 04 5
Service Award Level 05 6
Service Award Level 06 9
Service Award Level 07 11
Service Award Level 08 3
Service Award Level 09 2
Wikimedia Commons administrators 2
Philosophy Count
Hindu 1
Humanist 6
Materialist 9
Pastafarian 16
Theist 9

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Profile of Australian En-WP users

Posted by Laura on Thursday, 7 October, 2010

I’m pretty much done with Twitter.  By that I mean that I’ve compiled my list of Twitter accounts.  I’ve got a user geographic list.  Neither one is likely to be improved.  All I need to do now is run those accounts through my program, then count up where people are from, map that and write my dissertation chapter.  I intended to do that soon.  After I finish my Literature Review.

In the mean time, I’m playing with Wikipedia.  I’m interested to know who exactly is editing Australian sport articles.  I can do that some what easily with anon-IP address edits.  When it comes to logged in users, that’s a bit harder.  I need to be able to get information off contributor user pages to determine that.  I don’t know who edited what.  To make my life simpler, what I did was go category like Wikipedians by location, and put that information into an Excel spread sheet.  Various categories were combined.  (I don’t have all categories of Wikipedians by…  I have a random selection of larger categories.)

I’ve got some technical issues in combining rows on Excel.  (I don’t know how to do it.  I’m waiting for a friend to get on MSN so I can harass them to do that for me.)  Still, in the process of doing this…  I figured I would post what I had found so far.

I’ve identified 2,220 people who claim to live in Australia.  The tables below give an idea as to the current count of Australians that fall into these categories.  If you don’t see a category, don’t assume it means there are zero people in it.  It could mean that or it could mean I haven’t processed that row.  It could also mean that I didn’t include that category yet.  It could mean that a category for it doesn’t exist on Wikipedia.  (Example: I have yet to see a category for Aussie rules football fans.)

Another thing to bear in mind, this data is from userboxes.  A contributor has to put a userbox on their user page.  Not everyone does that.  Some people may put userboxes up for some categories like language but not others like alma mater or religion.

That said, findings so far:

Alma Mater Count
Australian National University 7
Australian National University; University of Western Australia 1
Avondale College, University of Newcastle 1
Charles Sturt University 1
Curtin University of Technology 3
Deakin University, La Trobe University 1
Flinders University 2
Macquarie University, University of New South Wales 1
Monash University 2
Monash University; University of New South Wales 1
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology 2
University of Melbourne 4
University of New England 1
University of New South Wales 4
University of New South Wales; University of Canberra 1
University of Newcastle 1
University of Sydney 2
University of Technology, Sydney 1
University of Western Australia 1
University of Wollongong 1
Degree Count
BA degrees 6
BE degrees 3
BS degrees 7
BS degrees; PhD degrees 1
MS degrees 1
PhD degrees 2
Students Count
Wikipedian business students 1
Wikipedian college students 4
Wikipedian law students 2
Wikipedian medical students 1
Wikipedian university students 11
Wikipedian university students, Wikipedian college students 3
Website Count
Wikipedians who contribute to OpenStreetMap 1
Religion Count
Anglican and Episcopalian 3
Anglican and Episcopalian; Protestant 1
Atheist Wikipedians 16
Atheist Wikipedians, Antitheist Wikipedians 1
Atheist Wikipedians; Buddhist 1
Atheist Wikipedians; Objectivist Wikipedians 1
Buddhist 2
Christian Wikipedians 14
Christian Wikipedians; Presbyterian; Protestant 1
Protestant 1
Roman Catholic 4
Ethnicity and nationality Count
English; British 1
English 1
Skill Count
Wikipedian aircraft pilots, Wikipedian homebrewers 1
Wikipedian engineers 5
Wikipedian filmmakers 3
Wikipedian professional writers; Wikipedian filmmakers 1
Profession Count
Broadcasters 1
Composers 4
Composers; Wikipedian filmmakers 1
Teacher 1
Wikipedian aircraft pilots 1
Wikipedian engineers 5
Wikipedian filmmakers 2
Wikipedian filmmakers; Composers 1
Language Count
User ang; User ar 1
User ar 1
User bn; User bn-N 1
User cy 1
User da, User da-2 1
User da; User da-2 1
User el 2
User el; User el-1 1
User el; User el-1 1
Sport Count
Cross-country runners 1
Equestrians 1
Fencers 1
Hunters 1
Rugby league fans 15
Runners, Cross-country runners 1
Snowboarders 1
Swimmers 2
Swimmers; Dancers 1
Wikipedian geocachers, Equestrians 1
Wikipedians who scuba dive 1
Wikipedians who scuba dive, Hunters 1
WikiProject Tennis members 1
Wikipedia status Count
Administrator hopefuls 4
Administrators 5
Administrators, Administrators who will provide copies of deleted articles 1
Administrators, Opted out of automatic signing, Administrators who will provide copies of deleted articles 1
Administrators; Administrators who will provide copies of deleted articles 1
Administrators; Bureaucrats 1
Opted out of automatic signing 2
Reviewers 3
Rollbackers 5
Software Count
Gimp 3

So if you’re an Aussie Wikipedian, you likely went to ANU, have a BS, are a current university student, are an Atheist, of English descent, work as an engineer, speak Greek in addition to English, are a Rugby league fan, are a Wikipedia administrator and rollbacker and use IRC.

Need this complete to see how well this stands up.

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The Impact of Jason Akermanis’s Comments on the Western Bulldogs’s Online Fanbase

Posted by Laura on Wednesday, 21 July, 2010

This was originally written on June 14, 2010. It has not been edited since then. There may be some grammatical errors and citation related issues.

The Impact of Jason Akermanis’s Comments on the Western Bulldogs Online Fanbase

On May 20, the Jason Akermanis says gay AFL players should stay in the closet backlash started in response to his column in the Herald Sun. (Akermanis, 2010) The media covered the story on television, in print and online.  AFL fans discussed it on Twitter, created protest pages on Facebook, wiki articles were updated and a lot of people posted about it on the blogosphere.  Management within the AFL and the Western Bulldogs felt compelled to speak out against Jason’s comments.  People talked of reporting Jason to the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity commission.

From a marketing perspective, Akermanis’s opinions were perceived as damaging to the sport and league.  The Western Bulldogs have an association with VicHealth and the Gay and Lesbian Health Association and Akermanis’s comments seemed to contradict and undermine that support. (Walsh, 2010)  The possibility of negative backlash may not have been apparent to the team prior to the article being published as, according to the Sydney Star Observer, team management signed off on the column. (Noonan, 2010)   The size of the backlash and efforts to try to address it can probably be best evidenced by the suspension of Akermanis from the playing field and talking to the media.

Unlike the Melbourne Storm controversy, Akermanis’s comments do not give the appearance of having activated his personal fan base and the fan base for the Western Bulldogs.  There were no media reports of pastors speaking out on Akermanis’s behalf.  His teammates did not support him.  The media did not dismiss his comments, excusing them because of his otherwise excellent on field performance.  Perhaps had Akermanis made these comments in a different country, his comments would have had the potential to be less damaging to the club he played for.  There is also a general view, at least in the United States, that sport teams are run by conservatives who maintain traditional family values.  The assumption is often that sport fans reflect those same values; those that do not chose to follow other popular culture products like movies, television and video games.   If the fanbase for the AFL had actually reflected those underlying assumptions, the situation could have been much more easily ignored and have had the potential to be much less damaging.

The question is how damaging was the situation for the Western Bulldogs online?  How can this be measured? Did the team lose the potential to grow their audience when compared to other AFL teams as a result of Akermanis’s comments?  Who supported Jason and who did not?

The measurement question is probably the most difficult one to address.  Unlike the Melbourne Storm situation, this does not involve a team: The situation involves a specific player.  Liking or adding the team as an interest cannot necessarily be seen as supporting or condemning Jason Akermanis.  People could like the team because they suspended Akermanis for his comments. It is much harder to attribute page views to Akermanis and/or Western Bulldogs supporters who want to find out the situation in order to justify or reaffirm their allegiances.  Almost none of the media coverage and very few people on Twitter indicated that the fanbase was activated in defense of the team and Akermanis.  Thus, a default assumption for any data is that publicity of the situation will activate a larger audience to be against both the club and Akermanis unless contextual evidence suggests otherwise.

Given the measurement difficulties, this paper will nonetheless try to determine how the online community responded to the Jason Akermanis situation and how this reflects back on the Western Bulldogs.  This will be done by looking at Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, bebo, Alexa and a few selected sites.

Facebook is the most popular social network in Australia.  Facebook’s advertising data says that there are over nine million users from Australia using the site.  (1)  The following of some Australian based sport teams and leagues are quite large.  The official fan pages for the Queensland Maroons, Brisbane Broncos, Socceroos, AFL and Essendon Bombers all have more than 50,000 fans.

Given the large number of Australians using the network, the official presence of so many clubs and the amount of media attention paid to the service, a response on network was inevitable.   There are several Facebook metrics that can be looked at to ascertain how the controversy effected the Western Bulldogs and Jason Akermanis.  The first way is to compare the relative growth of the Western Bulldogs’ total fans on their fan page compared to other teams during the same page.  A second way is to examine comparative growth of groups that supported Akermanis versus those that condemned his views.  The third way is to compare demographic and geographic distinctions between fans that support Akermanis, people that condemned Akermanis’s views and Western Bulldogs fans.

If the Jason Akermanis controversy hurt the Western Bulldogs on Facebook, it should have resulted in a loss or slower growth in terms of total and percentage of new fans on Facebook when compared to other teams. Data was collected between March 25 and June 10, 2010 regarding the size of the official Facebook fan pages for several AFL teams. (2)

Table 1

In the period between May 3 to May 30, the Western Bulldogs were in the middle of the teams for number of new fans with 1,453. This was almost three times as many as the bottom ranked Geelong Cats who had 519 new fans in that period and a third of new fans of the top ranked Collingwood Magpies who saw an increase of 4,150 fans. An argument could be made that period had too much time preceding it that could have lessened any potential loss with earlier gains. Thus comparing the period between May 30 and June 5 migh be more helpful as Akermanis was suspended on June 1. That new brought additional attention to the column that led to his suspension. During this period, the Western Bulldogs ranked seven out of nine for total new fans with 213 people liking them. This number may not be that accurate as not all teams that had performed worse than them in the previous period were included in this sample. The better comparison could be between May 3 and June 10, 2010 as it is larger and includes the initial controversy and the suspension use. That data set is also more complete. During this longer period, the Western Bulldogs finish in the middle with a gain of 1,812 fans. This compares to the Carlton Blues who on top with 5,185 new fans and the Geelong Cats who are on the bottom with 657 new fans. All of this supports the idea that, when compared to other team’s growth, the Western Bulldogs were not hurt by the controversy.

Another way of looking at this data is to compare percentage growth of new followers. This number compares a club’s ability to get new followers relative to their own performance as opposed to all AFL fans. Using this number, the Western Bulldogs saw the most growth in the period between May 3 and May 30 with a 22.8% increase. The next highest performing club was the Carlton Blues with 19.5%. The Western Bulldogs growth is impressive when compared to the Essendon Bombers who had 4.5% growth, the St. Kilda Saints who had 3.7% and the Adelaide Crows who had 2.1% growth. In the period between May 30 and June 5, the Western Bulldogs were second only to the Gold Coast Football Club: The Bulldogs had a 3.2% increase in new fans compared to the Gold Coast’s 44.9%. The Western Bulldogs saw .8% more growth to the next highest team, the Richmond Tigers who had 2.4%. The Bulldogs percentage growth was roughly 6.4 times as much as the bottom teams, Essendon, St. Kilda and Adelaide who saw between .5 and .7% growth. For the period between June 5 and June 10, the Western Bulldogs finished second for highest percentage growth. The only team that outperformed them was Greater Western Sydney, another expansion team who had just made a lot of news with their signing of Israel Folau. With the exception of the Gold Coast, all teams had one or more percent less growth than the Western Bulldogs. For the overall period between May 3 and June 10, the Western Bulldogs finished on top with 26.9%, 1.1% more growth than the number two team of Carlton and well above that of the last place performer Adelaide who had 3.3% growth in fans on Facebook. Given these numbers where the Bulldogs led in percentage growth on Facebook, it is hard to argue that the Jason Akermanis controversy hurt their Facebook strategy. It might be argued that the team was able to effectively capitalize on Akermanis related traffic on Facebook and their website to convert some fringe fans into Facebook fans.

Beyond the total fans of official pages, there are other interesting metrics that can explain the fan response to the Jason Akermanis controversy. One involves the creation and growth of Facebook groups and fan pages: Facebook easily allows users to create them and they do. Some of the fastest member growing Facebook groups and fan pages are created to get media attention for an issue, to help people spread the word about breaking news and share knowledge, to express disgust with actions taken by institutions or to express allegiance with a person or organization in response to negative publicity. Once the catalyst for the event is out of the news, many of these groups face stagnant growth and become irrelevant having been abandoned by their creators.

While it is not possible to date the creation of a group, the Akermanis controversy likely resulted in the creation of a number of fan pages and groups. These groups have names such as Jason Akermanis, you are a MORON!, Jason Akermanis: Homophobe and complete fuckwit!, Jason Akermanis is a homophobe., Jason Akermanis is a dick, Jason Akermanis Is Totally Gay, Only Homophobes think Jason Akermanis is a homophobe!, Jason Akermanis should be locked and gagged in a closet!, Don’t you hate it when you’re in the shower and Jason Akermanis comes in?, Jason Akermanis is a homophobe., Jason Akermanis is a F*ckwit, Jason Akermanis Can’t Drive A Race Car, JASON AKERMANIS’S “IQ OF A PLANT”, Jason Akermanis slept with me, Jason Akermanis is a coward, and for people who wanna see Jason Akermanis shove his head up his own Ass. There are a number of pro or neutral Akermanis groups on Facebook. They likely predate the controversy. They include groups named Jason Akermanis, Jason Akermanis Biography, Jason Akermanis Autobiography, The Battle Within by Jason Akermanis, jason akermanis is amazing!, The Jason Akermanis Appreciation Society, Jason Akermanis is a legend, Jason Akermanis handstand appreciation society, and Jason Akermanis for Brownlow 2008. (3)

Some of the anti-Akermanis groups saw relatively impressive levels of growth. Jason Akermanis is a homophobe. is one of the most popular anti groups. It had 126 members on May 20 and had 547 members by May 24. Membership levels stabilized and it had only 627 members by June 12. Don’t you hate it when you’re in the shower and Jason Akermanis comes in? had 171 fans as of May 22. By May 30, it had 482. Most of the other anti-Jason groups sampled had smaller total populations and smaller membership increases. Some of the anti groups were deleted during this period. One such group was Jason Akermanis Is Totally Gay, which had one member when checked on May 20 and was deleted some time between then and June 10. Jason Akermanis: Homophobe and complete fuckwit! had 118 members on May 20 before being removed from Facebook by May 22.

The pro and neutral Akermanis groups in the sample were all smaller than the two largest anti-Akermanis groups as of June 12, 2010. A pro-Akermanis group ranked third for the total number of fans. In comparison to the anti-Akermanis groups, the growth rate was much smaller. The Jason Akermanis Appreciation Society went from 454 members on May 20 to 469 on June 12. Jason Akermanis is a legend saw no growth during that period, continuing to have 201 total members. Jason Akermanis handstand appreciation society saw a growth of one, going from 88 to 89 during that period. Jason Akermanis at is the group that probably saw the biggest percentage increase of clearly established fan pages. It went from 56 fans on May 20 to 165 on June 12. Jason Akermanis at went from 307 fans on May 20 to 382 on June 12. Growth levels for the pro and neutral groups are level compared to the anti groups. The data suggests that people did not respond to the Akermanis controversy by rushing out to assert their support of him and his views by joining communities about him on Facebook. The data also suggests that the anti-sentiment regarding Akermanis was not sustained for a long period of time and that people were not scared to affiliate with Akermanis, despite people’s negative attitudes towards him.

Another way of evaluating the effect of the Akermanis controversy on the Western Bulldogs is to compare the characteristics of Western Bulldog fans, Akermanis supporters and Akermanis detractors. Facebook shows the network membership for people who belong to many groups and fan pages, which allows such a comparison to take place. On June 13, 2010, a list of all the members of the Western Bulldogs official fan page was pulled. While Facebook shows the page as having 6,819 fans, it only provided names and network membership for 3,343 people. Of these fans, 188 or 5.6% belonged to a network. A membership list for Jason Akermanis is a homophobe. (4) was also pulled. As of June 13, 2010, the group had 627 members, of which Facebook lists 428. Of the 428, 28 or 6.5% belong to a network. A membership list for The Jason Akermanis Appreciation Society was pulled. As of June 13, the group had 469 members of which 337 were on the member list. Of these, 27 or 8.0% belonged to a network.

Networks are Facebook created groupings that early in the site’s history allowed people to easily filter content to people who shared an affiliation with other users. These networks cover three broad general categories: Places of employment, secondary schools and high schools. The pro-Akermanis people belong to thirteen networks not shared by detractors or Western Bulldogs fans. That means 48% of Akermanis fans do not belong to a network that is shared by Western Bulldogs fans and highly suggests that Akermanis’s fanbase largely is independent of the Bulldogs. Eight anti-Akermanis fans or 27% of that population belong to networks not represented by the Western Bulldogs or Akermanis supporters. This suggests that Akermanis detractors likely come from with in the Western Bulldogs fanbase.

The differences between Akermanis detractors and Western Bulldogs fans are really clear when network membership is sorted by type (secondary school, university, company) and then tabulated. (5) 78.6% of all Akermanis detractors that list a network belong to a university related one. This compares to 50.0% for Akermanis supporters and 48.6% for Bulldogs supporters. Bulldog supporter network membership suggests that the club’s goal of building a barracker base from the working class has been successful. The pattern of network membership may also suggest that Akermanis detractors are older than the club’s current supporter base. Given these two conditions, the Bulldogs are likely to be unaffected by the detractors as they represent a demographically distinct group that the club is not marketing to.

Twitter is a popular microblogging platform. Many teams, players and fansites have established a presence on the site. Australian sport fans are also actively using Twitter to discuss their club’s performance, celebrity athlete related gossip and to find other sport news.

There are several possible ways to monitor the impact of the Akermanis controversy as it pertains to Western Bulldogs. Sadly, the most important Twitter metrics are not accessible as the author did not get the data in the moment. (6) These include total number of followers before and after the controversy for the official account and total number of tweets featuring certain keywords. The counting the total number of Tweets by the official account was also not done, as it was believed that this data would not have meaningful results. Unlike the Melbourne Storm controversy, the focus was on a player where the media and fan attention appeared to be on him to the exclusion of his club. Given that, the Bulldogs did not have to respond or change their practices in their official fan communication channels and monitoring their Tweet volume would be unlikely to provide any insight into the fan response to the controversy.

As the three of the most popular Twitter metrics are not available or not relevant, the question is what other metrics can be used? One Twitter analysis tool that can be useful in this case is Twitter Venn. (7) The service creates Venn diagrams based on keywords that a user selects. The service uses Twitter’s search API to find Tweets that mention the two or three teams the user selected, determines if the terms were used together or independently, counts the total Tweets and then creates the Venn. (Clark, n.d.) Using this service on June 11, a Venn diagram (Figure 1) was created. The keywords chosen were based on the goal of trying to exclude irrelevant tweets, such as people talking about their pet Bulldogs or other teams named the Bulldogs. Phrases such as gay, homosexual and homophobic were also not included as their usage extends beyond this controversy and would pick up a lot of irrelevant data.

Figure 1. Twitter Venn. This Venn diagram generated by Twitter Venn demonstrates the lack of overlap between use of Akermanis and Western Bulldogs.

On Twitter, people who mentioned Jason Akermanis did not mention his club affiliation, instead referencing the AFL, gay and other words that indicate the controversy involving the column he published. Based on this, it can be concluded that on Twitter, Akermanis’s comments did not result in rage directed at his club.

Wikipedia is one of the first sources of information that many people turn to when a news story breaks. Articles on the site often provide background information and context to an event, and include a summary and links of breaking news. Wikipedia also has an excellent search engine optimization. When people go to Google or other search engines to find out what is happening, Wikipedia often appears as the first, second or third result. Thus, an increase in an article’s views should be expected when controversy happens.

In terms of the Jason Akermanis and Wikipedia, the way to measure the controversy as it impacts the Western Bulldogs would be to compare the total page views between those two articles. If the controversy reflected more upon Akermanis than his team, the expectation is the page view spike would be higher. The chart below contains traffic information to those two articles for the period between May 1 and June 8, 2010. (8) To give perspective to Akermanis’s situation as it pertains to athlete interest connecting to club interest, data for the Israel Folau, Brisbane Broncos and Western Sydney Football Club articles have been included on the chart. (Figure 2)

Figure 2. Article Views on Wikipedia by Date. Graph shows total views of selected Wikipedia articles between May 1 and June 10, 2010.

The Jason Akermanis controversy did not result in increase in attention for the Western Bulldogs: Total page views by date have a correlation of .280, which suggests that interest in the two is not related. This is much different than the situation that exists for Israel Folau and Greater Western Sydney: The two articles move in tandem in terms of total article views by date with a correlation of .943. (9)

There are two other aspects of Wikipedia worth analyzing as they pertain to understanding the fan community’s actions in response to the controversy. One is the total edits. The second is the location of those edits. For total edits, controversial and high visibility stories tend to lead to an increase in editing. For less controversial news stories, where there isn’t much new information and the topic is not one people are passionate about, there tend to be fewer peaks in editing. Below is a chart (Figure 3) that compares the total number of edits to the Jason Akermanis, Western Bulldogs, Israel Folau and Greater Western Sydney articles.

Figure 3. Total Edits Between May 1 and June 8, 2010 for Selected Wikipedia Articles.

The Jason Akermanis controversy resulted in people editing the article about him. The total number of daily edits does not mirror total number of daily edits to the Western Bulldogs. This continues to suggest that people viewed Akermanis’s actions independently of his club. This contrasts with the Israel Folau situation, where the total number of edits appears to be a bit more connected.

The Western Bulldogs are based in a Melbourne suburb. An argument could be made that the Western Bulldogs should be concerned about maintaining or developing a fanbase in their local area; they do not need to worry about the fan community outside their geographic home. The only way to measure the local fan community response on Wikipedia expressed by editing an article is to use geolocation for IP addresses that have edited an article. As the total edits by date chart shows, there have been very few edits to the Western Bulldogs article since the Jason Akermanis controversy broke. Of the five edits made to the Western Bulldogs article, two edits have been made by users who have not logged in and have a visible IP address. Neither of these edits references the controversy. Both edits are from Melbourne. (10) This suggests that the controversy did not impact their local fanbase.

The edit history for the Jason Akermanis article stands in stark contrast to the Western Bulldogs article. It has a lot more edits and almost all of the non-logged in edits involved editing the article to reference the stay in the closet controversy. There were 29 total edits made by 14 non-logged in users. Of these edits, four are from Melbourne, one each from Camberwell and Sandringham in Victoria, two are from Adelaide, three are from Sydney and three are international. Only 42 percent of the edits to the Jason Akermanis article originate from the Western Bulldog’s geographic home. Determining what this means is more problematic. The most obvious conclusion is that the offended population were geographically dispersed and were more interested in the topic because of the homophobic aspects than because of their interest in Akermanis and the Western Bulldogs. These edits should not be seen as being committed by a base who will punish the Western Bulldogs by not watching games on television or in person.

Bebo was a popular social networking site in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Its popularity has slipped in the past year but there is still a large population of AFL fans on the site. It probably ranks amongst the top ten most popular social networks inside Australia
Bebo allows people to search for keywords and interest that appear in people’s profiles, in videos, descriptions of bands, groups, applications and skins. For profiles, the general assumption is that people do not update interests listed on them regularly after they register. Doing so generally requires a strong desire to associate or disassociate with a person or organization. This desire has to overcome general antipathy towards updating. Thus, interest levels remain relatively stable unless something happens that causes a huge emotional response.

What does this mean for the Western Bulldogs? Did the Jason Akermanis situation reach that point, causing people to want to associate or disassociate with the team? As of March 17, there were 93 people who listed the Western Bulldogs as an interest. (11) By June 8, 2010, this number had increased to 95. There does not appear to have been an attitude shift that causes many people to want to change their public allegiances. The small increase may mean something when compared to Melbourne Storm who saw zero interest listing growth during a similar period prior to and after a major controversy. (Hale, 2010)

While no bebo video data is available for the Western Bulldogs prior to June 9, video data is available for the Brisbane Lions. On May 1, 2010, a search was done of videos on bebo for the “Brisbane Lions.” This is a team that Jason Akermanis played for. On that date, there were 74 videos which mentioned the Brisbane Lions. Three of these videos referenced an Australian soccer league team. The rest were about the AFL team. Of these 71 videos, only one contained Akermanis in the title or description. As of May 1, it had only eleven views. When the video viewing statistics were check on June 9, 2010, there were still only 11 views: The Jason Akermanis controversy has not translated into people seeking out video content on bebo featuring him to watch.

There are no groups about Jason Akermanis. This contrasts to Facebook, where there are several that cover several different views of the player. The Jason Akermanis did not inspire anyone on bebo to create any anti-Jason group, which suggests either antipathy towards the situation or fans not being particularly active on bebo any more.

The only other large player/club controversy that occurred during this time period involved Israel Falou, who switched from the NRL and Brisbane Broncos to the AFL and Greater Western Sydney. To put Jason Akermanis’s fan community as it related to the Western Bulldogs on bebo into context, it is worth comparing the two players. The following data was gathered on June 8, 2010.

Table 2

Bebo interests suggest that Israel Folau is much more important to the Brisbane Broncos fan community than Jason Akermanis is. Jason Akermanis’s comments look like, based on these numbers, that they would have less potential to harm the club than Israel Folau’s desertion to the AFL.

Website Traffic and Demographics
There are primarily three services which track website traffic. They are Alexa, Quantcast and Compete. (12) Each one has something different to offer in terms of how they measure and information they provide about a site. None of these sites are perfect in that they cannot convey a completely accurate picture of a website’s traffic or the demographic composition of visitors to the site. Despite these deficiencies, using their data can begin to give an idea to the fan response by looking for traffic movement out of sync with other teams and if there was a major difference in audiences visiting the Bulldogs site.

Alexa ranks websites based on the amount of traffic they get. It measures traffic using a user-installed toolbar coupled with other data. (13) (alberto, 2009) They can differentiate traffic based on nation and will provide ranking information by country for sites that get a majority of their traffic from specific countries. Their data is also updated daily. This makes them more useful than Compete and Quantcast in that Alexa provides information about Australian sites and updates daily so that daily traffic patterns can be examined.

On June 5, June 8 and June 9, 2010, the international and Australian ranking on Alexa was recorded for all official AFL club websites. (14) This is not ideal, as it does not include traffic prior to and immediately after the Jason Akermanis situation. Still, it can provide a picture of what was happening 16 days after the incident broke, a few days after news of Akermanis’s suspension was announced.

Table 3.

The only team with less traffic to their site is Greater Western Sydney, a team that has not started playing in the AFL yet. While only three of the seventeen teams saw an increase in Australian traffic ranking from June 5 to June 9, (15) the decrease in rank between those dates for the Western Bulldogs was the most extreme: It dropped almost 2,000 places. This suggests that something is going on to depress traffic to the Bulldogs when compared to other teams.

Quantcast and Alexa both provide demographic information about visitors to a site. Quantcast can directly measure a site’s traffic and build a better demographic picture if a site inserts Quantcast’s code into their site. (Quantcast Corporation, 2008) Quancast’s data tends to be American centric and does not always provide a picture of international visitors unless a site is Quantified. Alexa’s demographic data comes from a survey users complete when they install the toolbar. (alberto, 2009)

Bearing in mind that the Quantcast’s description is based on American visitors, the site characterizes visitors to the Western Bulldogs’s site (16) as female, middle aged, Hispanic, have children, make between $30,000 and $60,000 a year and are college graduates. This information was based on all of May 2010, including the nineteen days before the controversy broke out. Alexa, which has much more data from Australian users, characterizes visitors to the Western Bulldogs site as generally between the ages of 18 to 24, male, college graduates, childless and visiting the site from work.

The Geelong Cats and North Melbourne Kangaroos are closest to the Western Bulldogs in terms of amount of traffic. They are also based in the same metro area. Thus, it makes sense to compare their audience with the of the Bulldogs to determine if the there are demographic differences between the clubs that could be attributed to a shift in viewing habits as a result of the Akermanis controversy.

Quantcast characterizes visitors to the Geelong Cats site (17) as female, extremely young, Asian, having no children, making between $30,000 and $60,000 a year and being college graduates. Quantcast characterizes North Melbourne Kangaroos website visitors (18) as being split evenly amongst both genders, teenaged, Asian, having kids in their household, affluent and possessing a graduate degree.

Alexa characterizes Geelong Cats website visitors as being between 18 and 24, male, having a graduate degree, having children, and visiting the site from bother home and work. Alexa characterizes North Melbourne Kangaroos visitors as between 18-24, male, having a college degree, childless and visiting the site from home.

There does not appear to be a demographically homogenous group visiting the websites of all three clubs. The major difference appears to be the racial make up of visitors, with the Western Bulldogs over representing in Hispanics. It would be difficult to make a claim, based on available website demographic data, that the Akermanis situation changed the composition of the fanbase.

43 Things, Blogger and Other Small Networks
While smaller and less influential sites like 43 Things, Blogger and BlackPlanet have tiny populations, they are worth monitoring as they can often be one of the first signs of a major public relations problem online that can no longer be controlled. Twitter and Facebook can often be very temporal: Things happen in the moment and are quickly forgotten. Those sites are not set up to record fan responses. Other sites, either because they are inactive, allow for longer posting, have greater visibility to people outside the network the content exists on or because influential fans from those networks may have greater crossover to a wider selection of sites, can hurt a club or league’s reputation. The content does not go away. There are influential people on some of those sites that can spread the message to a totally different audience with a different demographic profile. Also, when you’re talking to some one in a much smaller group, there tends to be more trust and greater potential for people to believe what their friends are saying. While a person reading one hundred tweets by nominal acquaintances may be able to forget and move on as things move so fast, in a one on one environment, the chances are the smaller group may have bigger problems letting go and moving on.
43things is a goal setting site that is relatively popular in Australia. Prior to the Jason Akermanis controversy, there was one goal related to the Western Bulldogs: See the Western Bulldogs win the grand final. One person was trying to accomplish this goal. Since the controversy, there has been no change in people creating new goals related to the club, nor in the number of people trying to accomplish the existing goal. There have been no goals, either positive or negative, created related to Jason Akermanis. This mirrors the non-action taken by Brisbane Broncos, Israel Folau and Greater Western Sydney fans who added no goals in response to the change in code news for Israel Folau.

BlackPlanet is a small social network marketed at African Americans in the United States. It has a small community of Australians on it. The major sport league that Australians are interested on the site is the NRL. Prior to and after the controversy, no one listed the Western Bulldogs as an interest. After the controversy, no one updated their profiles to include Jason Akermanis as an interest.

Blogger is a blogging site powered by Google. It is one of the more popular free blogging services in Australia. Users can create a profile on the site, which is used to link their different blogs and comments on one page. The profile page includes an interest field that users can fill out. As of January 16, twelve people listed the Western Bulldogs as an interest. This number only changed by one as of June 4 and June 8, 2010, with 13 people listing the team as interest. No one listed Jason Akermanis as an interest on blogger as of June 4, 2010. It is unlikely that the Jason Akermanis situation resulted in any behavioral change in terms of public allegiances shown on profiles for the Western Bulldogs.

Care2 is a small social network marketed at people who want to make the world a better place. It hosts blogs, groups, discussions, personal profiles, petitions and photos. Care2 has a small population of Australian sport fans using it. As the site is geared towards making a difference and addressing social problems, it is a bit surprising that Akermanis does not show up when searching (19) site profiles, discussions, groups or petitions. As of June 11, the Western Bulldogs are only mentioned four times in blogs and only included on one person’s profile. While this data was gathered three weeks after the controversy, it seems unlikely that with no mentions of Akermanis, the small community on Care2 turned against the team. ecademy is a niche social networking site that is an alternative to LinkedIn for professionals. With no earlier benchmarks, a June 11, 2010 profile search (20) turned up similar results to Care2: No one listed the team or Jason Akermanis as an interest on their profile. It is unlikely that the controversy had an impact on the small AFL community on the site.

Wikia is an extremely popular wiki hosting company (21) that allows anyone to freely create a wiki. They are home to three small wikis dedicated to the AFL and Australian rules football. (22) These wikis are small and not very comprehensive. Two were created prior to the controversy and one was created after it. None have had any edits to the Western Bulldogs or Jason Akermanis article. Coincidentally, there have been no edits related to Israel Folau and Greater Western Sydney. The Wikia community for the AFL was clearly not activated in response to the Akermanis or Folau situations. This suggests that the community is either inactive or more interested in historical on field play rather than off field player antics.

Based on fan behavior online, Jason Akermanis’s comments did not help the player build his personal brand. He upset some fans in the short term, and motivated people to create long time reminders of views that they consider problematic. Very few fans rushed to his defense by affiliating with him or creating groups to defend his position. While the controversy may be problematic for Akermanis, the controversy was less problematic for his club, the Western Bulldogs. Fans did not link the club and player on Wikipedia or Twitter. People did not remove their Western Bulldogs interest on sites such as Blogger or change their behavior goals on sites like 43 Things. Inactive Bulldogs fans were not motivated to become active in order to express disgust for the team. The people that had problems with Akermanis were demographically distinct from Bulldogs fans on Facebook. The controversy harmed Akermanis but it did not harm his team’s image.

Akermanis, J. (2010, May 20). “Stay in the closet, Jason Akermanis tells homosexuals.” Herald Sun. Newspaper. Retrieved June 7, 2010, from

alberto. (2009, July 13). “How are Alexa’s traffic rankings determined?” Alexa. Retrieved June 8, 2010, from

Clark, J. (n.d.). “Twitter Venn.” Twitter Venn. Retrieved June 11, 2010, from

Hale, L. (2010, May 20). “Online Activity in the Wake of the Melbourne Storm Controversy.” Ozzie Sport. Retrieved June 9, 2010, from

Noonan, A. (2010, May 27). “AFL closet furore continues.” Sydney Star Observer. Newspaper. Retrieved June 7, 2010, from

Quantcast Corporation. (2008, June 28). “Cookie Corrected Audience Data, Leveraging Multiple Data Sources to
Calibrate Unique Cookie, Machine, and People Counts in a Direct-Measurement Media Economy.” Quantcast. Retrieved June 9, 2010, from

Walsh, C. (2010, May 21). “Aker’s viewpoint bizarre: Roos.” The Australian. Retrieved from


  1. Facebook’s advertising page is located at .  As of June 11, 2010, it said that there were 9,300,240 people from Australia.
  2. The urls for the fan pages in this sample are,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and,
  3. The following is a complete list of URLs for Jason Akermanis related Facebook fan pages and groups that the author looked at:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,  and .
  4. The group can be found at .
  5. The following table lists the network, the type of network and the total members from the three different groups looked at.

    Network Type Supporters Detractors Bulldogs Total
    Victoria AU University 2 1 15 18
    Monash University 2 8 7 17
    University of Melbourne University 2 1 13 16
    RMIT University 0 0 15 15
    State Government of Victoria Company 0 0 11 11
    Deakin University 0 2 8 10
    La Trobe University University 2 0 7 9
    Westbourne Grammar School Secondary school 0 0 4 4
    Bendigo Senior Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 3 3
    Curtin University 0 2 1 3
    Haileybury College Secondary school 1 0 2 3
    MacKillop College Secondary school 1 0 2 3
    St. Paul’s College Secondary school 0 0 3 3
    University of Sydney University 0 2 1 3
    Catholic College Bendigo Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Essendon Keilor College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Hoppers Crossing Secondary College Secondary school 1 0 1 2
    Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School Secondary school 1 0 1 2
    James Cook University 0 1 1 2
    Methodist Ladies’ College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    National Australia Bank Company 0 0 2 2
    St. Bernard’s College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Sunbury College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Swinburne University 0 0 2 2
    Telstra Company 0 1 1 2
    UNSW University 1 1 0 2
    Whitefriars College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Academy of Mary Immaculate Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    ANZ Company 0 0 1 1
    Australian National University 0 0 1 1
    Bacchus Marsh College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Ballarat & Clarendon College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Ballarat High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Benedictine IL University 0 0 1 1
    Binghamton University 1 0 0 1
    Bowness High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Box Hill High School Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    Braemar College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Burnside State High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Cairns State High School Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    Catholic Regional College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Central Queensland University 0 0 1 1
    Chairo Christian School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Charles Campbell Secondary School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Charles Darwin University 0 0 1 1
    Charles Sturt University University 1 0 0 1
    Chelmer Valley High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Clonard College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Computer Sciences Corporation Company 0 0 1 1
    Copperfield College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    De La Salle College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Elsevier Company 0 0 1 1
    Emmaus College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Esperance Senior High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    FedEx Company 0 0 1 1
    Firbank Grammar School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Ford Motor Company Company 0 0 1 1
    FRANCE 24 Company 0 0 1 1
    Geelong Grammar School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Gisborne Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Governor Stirling High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Griffith University 0 1 0 1
    Guilford Young College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Gymnase de Beaulieu Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Heathfield High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Hellyer College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    IESEG School of Management University 0 0 1 1
    Illawarra Sports High School Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    John Willcock Senior High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Jones Lang LaSalle Company 0 0 1 1
    Kantonsschule Büelrain Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Karingal Park Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Keilor Downs College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    KPMG Company 0 0 1 1
    Launceston College Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Lowther Hall Anglican School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Macquarie University 0 0 1 1
    Melbourne High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Merrimac State High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Metso Company 1 0 0 1
    Mildura Senior College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Mincom Company 0 0 1 1
    Mirrabooka Senior High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Mount Carmel College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Mowbray College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Nazareth College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Newcastle University 0 1 0 1
    Newcomb High Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Northern Beaches Christian School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Norwood Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Nowra Christian School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Nowra High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Optus Company 0 0 1 1
    Padua College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Patterson River Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Presentation College Windsor Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Sacred Heart AU Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Sacred Heart College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Salesian College Rupertswood Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    San Diego State University 0 0 1 1
    Smithfield State High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    St Albans Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    St. Aloysius College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    St. Thomas University 0 0 1 1
    Star Of The Sea Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    Star of the Sea College Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    Strathmore Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    T. D. Williamson Company 0 0 1 1
    Tasmania University 0 0 1 1
    The British School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    The Friends’ School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    The Peninsula School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Trinity Catholic School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    University of New England University 0 1 0 1
    University of Peradeniya University 0 0 1 1
    University of Zimbabwe University 1 0 0 1
    UT Arlington University 0 0 1 1
    UWA University 1 0 0 1
    Webber Academy Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Wellesley University 0 1 0 1
    Westpac Banking Company 0 0 1 1
    William Angliss Institute of TAFE University 0 0 1 1
    Wodonga Senior Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Wycheproof College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Total Secondary school 12 5 80 97
    Total University 13 22 82 117
    Total Company 1 1 26 28
    Total 26 28 188 242
    Percentage Secondary school 46.2% 17.9% 42.6% 40.1%
    Percentage University 50.0% 78.6% 43.6% 48.3%
    Percentage Company 3.8% 3.6% 13.8% 11.6%
  6. Data regarding the comparative size of total Twitter followers for the Western Bulldogs was initially gathered on June 1, almost a week after the controversy first started.  Twitter follower counts for other official club accounts were not recorded on that.  This further hampers the ability to make comparisons between teams.
  7. Twitter Venn is located at .
  8. Article view information is provided by .
  9. The correlation between the Brisbane Broncos article and the Israel Folau article is .155.  The relationship between page views for each article is close to random.
  10. was used to determine the geolocation of IP addresses.
  11. This number came from visiting , clicking on the people tab and searching for “Western Bulldogs.”
  12. Compete is not being looked at here because they have not updated their data to include May.  They also do not provide free demographic details about visitors to sites that they track.
  13. It is important to note that this tool does not measure direct traffic to a site.  Rather, it involves sampling traffic to the site to get an approximate for this his compares to other sites.
  14. The list of Alexa pages checked include: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .
  15. There are almost certainly cyclical patterns to the checking of AFL club websites: People check them on game and around game day to keep up with the team.  They are unlikely to check club websites when there is no club news and teams are not playing.
  16. The Quantcast information is from
  17. The Quantcast information is from
  18. The Quantcast information is from
  19. The url for the search that was confused is .
  20. The ecademy search can be found at
  21. As of June 11, 2010, Alexa ranks Wikia as the 312th most popular site on the Internet.  Compete estimates that the site gets around 3.2 million visitors a month.
  22. The wikis are , , and .

Related Posts:

Traffic to W-League Related Wikipedia Articles by Date

Posted by Laura on Friday, 2 July, 2010

Sometimes, I make charts and I think they are just that pretty that I want to share. (mmm. Tasty data!) This is one of those charts and it offers an interesting comparison between two clubs, the league they are in and the national team for that sport. The clubs are the Canberra United, the Melbourne Victory, the W-League and the Matildas. The team pages generally get 1/2 to 1/5 the traffic of the league page. The league and national team both got about the same traffic. Then the Australian women win the AFC and the traffic to their page shoots right up. After that, the traffic to the national team page was about double that of the league that a lot of those players are drawn from. Club pages and league didn’t necessarily see a bump as a result though.  The implications for this are fascinating.  It could suggest that national team interest and support does not translate down to the local level.   Soccer seems to have pushed this idea: National team success in the US should help foster interest in the MLS and WPS, and it doesn’t always seem to be the case.  (Yes, not the same country, the Women’s World Cup isn’t going on, etc.  Still, interesting…)

Traffic to W-League Related Wikipedia Articles by Date

Stats for this chart were gathered using .

Related Posts:

An interview with the CEO of the Canberra United

Posted by Laura on Saturday, 5 June, 2010

On Friday, I had the pleasure of talking to Heather Reid and Russ Gibbs at Canberra United.  I’ve tried to convey as accurately as possible what they have told me based on my memory and I asked their permission to reference them in my blog and paper while I met with them.

If you’re not familiar with the Canberra United, they are a W-League team based out of Canberra.  Unlike other teams in the W-League, they do not share a name or facilities with an A-League club.  Most of the funding and general support for the W-League comes from state based football associations.  This support insures a certain degree of financial stability that they might not be able to afford otherwise.  Some players in the league are paid but many are not.  The W-League was created in order to foster high levels of competition that could feed Australia’s women’s national football team, the Matildas.   The league intentionally schedules their games around the Matilda’s schedules to avoid conflicts for players. This has been successful in that many of the Matildas that played in the AFC championship played for W-League, three of whom play for the Canberra United.  The Canberra United have the highest average attendance of any team in the league, with over 1,000 people attending home matches.

My purpose in talking to them was to help provide background knowledge for my literature review and to generally enhance my understanding of Australian team sport as it may apply other parts of my research.  Going in, I had four questions I wanted answers to.  These questions were:

1. How do you define fandom?
2. How do you reach out to the fan community?
3. How much influence does league management provide in terms of defining fandom and how to engage in outreach?  Do they give guidance on social media policies?
4. How much do other sports, teams and leagues play a role in development and implementation of concepts related to fan engagement and social media?

The research out there about sport fandom defines it differently depending on your relationship to it.  Sport marketing and management literature tends to define fans and fandom as spectatorship or viewers.  Sport sociologist and historians tend to define fandom as identity that is sustained over longer periods of time.  Newspapers and fans themselves tend to define fandom as identity coupled with actions to express that.  I was interested to see how a team would define that.  In the case of the Canberra United, they define fandom for their team based on spectatorship.  In the case of spectatorship, it is not a wide definition of any possible fans but rather a subset of people they have identified as having the highest potential to attend their games.  The group that the team has decided to target is the female players in Capital Football, the ACT’s state soccer organization.  This is a group that the team feels would turn out to see the games as they are already interested in soccer, have knowledge of the club, and may dream of playing on that level or for the Matildas.    It is also easy to target as the team has access to Capital Football’s membership list.  They can easily send out e-mails to the members before a game to encourage them to attend and after a game to let them know the results.

Beyond that population, the club also hopes to attract an audience of general football fans located in the ACT.  The Canberra United are the highest level of soccer in the territory and play during the summer, when there are fewer sport options for people to watch.  When watching the team, fans have the potential to see future and current Matilidas, something that they might not otherwise have a chance to see regularly.

Most of the outreach that the team does involves reaching out through Capital Football.  They have a database of members which makes this easy to access this population.  Beyond that, they do outreach through sponsor related events.  Their major form of outreach beyond those two venues involves their website: The site includes information about the W-League, the team and local Canberra football clubs.  When shown data regarding how the club ranked on Alexa compared to A-League clubs, they were pleased.  W-League sites, with the exception of the Canberra United, are hosted as subpages inside A-League sites.  It is not possible to use publicly available data to distinguish between different pages.  Using Alexa, the Canberra United ranked 52,076 in Australia.  This compares to 50,430 for the Adelaide United, 60,807 for the Central Coast Mariners and 26,091 for the Sydney Football Club.  The Canberra United outperformed two teams, are about even with one, and are behind three teams.  This comparatively high rank happened when the team is not playing and against A-League sites that have a bigger attendance draw than the Canberra United.  In addition to the website, the team has ventured some into social media with an official presence on Facebook, where they have 460 fans. When we looked through a list of networks that their followers belonged to, they were able to explain pretty much every network on the list. The team has a Twitter account but they do not actively maintain it.  In the future, they plan to grow their social media presence.

The club has a fair amount of autonomy when it comes to making decisions regarding how to promote their team in their own market and online.  The W-League has their own promotions that are intended at promoting the league as a whole and the Canberra United participate in those promotional events.  The club also has some guidance from Capital Football.   Still, there is no indication that there are a lot of restrictions regarding how the club goes about promoting themselves.  The W-League does not have a formal policy regarding social media usage for its clubs or players in the league.  Canberra United also does not have such a policy as it has not been an issue so far.  Senator Kate Lundy is involved with the Canberra United and is keenly interested in social media and the law.  She is apparently helping the club think about the legal implications involved with this issue.

The team is aware of what other teams and some of the other leagues in Australia are   doing.  They were able to discuss how the AFL handled things compared to the NRL, and were willing to speculate as to how each league would handle certain situations.  They are also aware of what is going on with the Socceroos and the Matildas.  However, they did not know if the FFA had official policies regarding player usage of social media.  This was interesting in that player usage has been an issue the media has paid attention to in the run up to the World Cup, with the US allowing players to use social media but England banning players from using it. The team appeared to be more aware of other Australian leagues than they were of how international footballing bodies handled social media and marketing related issues.

Several other things were discussed that are not easy to categorize as part of the four questions.  These were rather interesting.  The team is aware of the major blogs and message boards that cover their team.  One of these included Girls With Game, .  Another was Capital Punishment, .  It sounded like they monitor them to see what people are saying.  They were not as aware of the Wikipedia article about themselves.  They did find it thorough and assumed that some of content was generated by finding information from their site.

Another issue discussed was the marketing of the W-League.  If you’ve been to their site or seen some of their promotional pictures, the players look like models with their hair done and wearing lots of makeup.  This was originally done as the W-League was aiming for a teenaged girl audience and because some in the league believe that sex sells.  Players were given the option of it they wanted to be photographed like that and participate in a sponsor-related event where they were asked to model clothes.  There was a question of “Was that sexist?”  The team told me that the players did not necessarily feel that it was because they were given a choice and they were portrayed positively.  Some of them considered it very feminist in that they could be high level athletes who are also capable of being beautiful women.

One issue I brought up was the issue of being female fanspace.  I referenced a study done involving the WNBA and how lesbians carved out their own space and definition of the league as being lesbian friendly.  This happened in a space that is not obviously queer space and is shared equally by other groups that a team might have greater incentive to maintain.  I asked how this type of issue was handled inside the W-League.  According to the Canberra United, part of the early marketing attempts by the W-League were to counter stereotypes of female athletes as lesbians by using advertising that played up on the players’ femininity with the modeling type pictures. I was also led to believe that this was an ongoing issue with women’s sports defined as pinks vs. ponytails, where some teams and players have gone out of their way to identify one way or another. My impression of what they said was that this was a regular battle of how to be as inclusive as possible while realizing that certain segments are not going to be very tolerant of each other.

In conclusion, the Canberra United use a definition of sport similar to those described by sports marketers.  The only caveat is that they more narrowly define spectator to specific populations they are intentionally targeting.  The club has a great deal of freedom to define their target audience and create their own social media policies.  Most of the team’s influence for how to handle marketing and social media policies comes from within Australia.

In preparation for talking with the Canberra United, I completed an overview of the size of the online community for the team.  It can be found at :

Related Posts:

Online Activity in the Wake of the Melbourne Storm Controversy

Posted by Laura on Thursday, 20 May, 2010

A copy of this can be found in PDF form at : .  The pdf version that includes footnotes that explain the methodology used and contain additional links.

Online Activity in the Wake of the Melbourne Storm Controversy

By Laura Hale, University of Canberra

On April 22, 2010, the news of salary cap violations on the part of the Melbourne Storm broke online in such publications as the Fox Sports, on television including ABC news and on multiple social networks including Facebook and Twitter. By April 23, the news was available in various print publications including The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. During the news coverage, NRL fans learned that the team had been fined $1.8 million, stripped of two premiereships and were not eligible to earn points towards 2010’s premiership. (“Melbourne storm stripped,” 2010) The team was being punished for salary cap violations over the past five years, where the total cap violation in that period was $1.7 million with $400,000 of that total cap violation occurring in 2009. (“Melbourne storm stripped,” 2010)

Early in the coverage of the Melbourne Storm, several issues were discussed including the impact this would have on the fan base for the team, the subsequent economic fallout for Storm and other clubs in the league, and if the players would try to leave the club or lower their performance level. The consequences that people feared have yet to bear out: The fan base for the Melbourne Storm has grown, attendance has not fallen, membership is up and players have not left the team and the team continues to win.

This article will examine the online response to the Melbourne Storm controversy. Specifically, it will look at the interest patterns on several networks, follow patterns on Twitter and Facebook, and activity levels on 43things, wikis and Yahoo!Groups. It will prove that, on the whole, the controversy has not eroded the online fanbase for the team and has resulted in an increased profile for the team in ways can have a net positive for the team and their sponsors.

Profile Interest

One way to quickly gage online interest for a team is to check the number of people who list them as an interest on social networks that include that option. The level of interest on a network will, in general, increase over time. Including an interest is a rather passive activity that most people do at the time that they signup on a service. They may update their interests once a year when they do an overhaul on their profile. Other factors may result in an update of interests, most notably a desire to associate or disassociate with certain people and organizations. The latter can generally require a certain amount of rage and disillusionment and does not happen that often. For adding interests, it can require a certain degree of wanting to stand in solidarity with some one or thing in the face of perceived oppression. Adding or removing an interest will generally require a large emotional response in people to motivate them to change their interests on social networks where an individual has not been active in the past six months. These conditions mean that numbers for interests are relatively stable or increase. A big shift downward is possible but unlikely.

Did the Melbourne Storm controversy result in people being motivated to update their interests to include or exclude the team? Yes and no, many people added them as an interest on Facebook but the numbers remained level across several other networks.

As of January 9, 2010, 17,020 had listed the Melbourne Storm as an interest on Facebook. By May 9, 2010, this number had increased to 41,240, or 24,220 new people. From January 9 to May 9, 2010, there was also an increase of roughly 120 fans within fifty miles of Hobart adding the team as an interest, going from less than 20 to 140. Canberra saw a similar increase in fans, going from 140 on January 9 to 1,020 by May 9, 2010, an increase of 880 new people listing the team as an interest. For fans within fifty miles of Cranbourne, there was an increase of 5,540 fans going from 7,140 fans on January 9 to 12,580 fans on May 9, 2010. Some of this increase on Facebook can be possibly attributed to a change in Facebook in mid-April, where people were encouraged to add their interests as likes of fanpages and vice versa. (Albanesius, 2010) It cannot entirely explain the shift as the official Melbourne Storm page is a user page, not a fan page so the interest to liking will not be automatically converted. At the same time, the number of people listing the team as an interest is roughly ten times as many who follow the Storm’s official Facebook profile and suggests that interest listing is independent of following the official team presence.

In addition to the Melbourne Storm interest on Facebook, there have been two new interests related to the storm created in the wake of the controversy: “Shame On You Melbourne Storm” with fewer than twenty people listing it as an interest, and “Sucked In Melbourne Storm Haha” with 3,240 people listing it as an interest. The latter definitely connects to a Facebook fanpage with the same name, which has 8,432 people who like it.

While Facebook saw an explosion in growth of people listing the team as an interest, other sites allowing interest listing on profiles remained stagnant or saw limited growth. This includes bebo, where there has been no change as of April 28 and May 9 from 402 people that was originally recorded on March 18, 2010. Blogger saw some growth for the number of people listing the team as an interest. As of January 18, 2010, four people had listed the team. By May 9, 2010, six people had listed them as an interest. As the time frame is wider than that of bebo, it might be possible to account for the increase as a pre-season boost, rather than in response to the controversy. Either way, this was an increase of fifty percent for new people listing the team as an interest.

LiveJournal saw no growth in people listing the team as an interest between January 10 and May 9, 2010. Of the 25 LiveJournal accounts listing the Melbourne Storm as an interest, only five have updated since the controversy broke. LiveJournal’s clones including Dreamwidth, Blurty and DeadJournal also saw no growth as of May 9. This contrasts to the Brisbane Broncos on LiveJournal, where one person removed the team as an interest during a similar period. Dreamwidth had two users listing the team as an interest as of January 9, Blurty had one user as of January 9, and DeadJournal had one user as of December 23, 2009. None of the people on LiveJournal’s clones who list the Storm as an interest have updated their journals since the controversy happened. The most recent updates occurred on Dreamwidth, taking place in early March 2010. The other account last updated in April 2009. The Blurty account last updated in November 2005 and the DeadJournal account last updated in January 2006.

One or two smaller niche networks have limited interest for specific teams or where people only list the NRL as an interest. This includes BlackPlanet, generally targeted at African Americans inside the United States. There was one person who listed the NRL as an interest on the network as of February 15, 2010. This has not changed as of May 9. Care2 is a social networked targeted at people who wish to make the world a better place. As of March 20, 2010, no one had listed the Melbourne Storm as an interest. This changed by May 9, when three people listed the team as an interest. Given the names, limited profiles and join dates, it is possible that these accounts are all tied to one individual. Gaia Online is a small, niche network for role players. As of March 11, 2010, no one had listed the Melbourne Storm as an interest. There is interest in the NRL on the network as people listed the Brisbane Lions, Canberra Raiders, Parramatta Eels and Sydney Roosters as interests. There has not been any change for any of these teams as of May 9. The limited growth and lack of pull back could suggest that larger interest in the NRL has not been diminished on smaller networks as a result of the controversy.

Wiki Activity

Wikis are, at their most basic, web sites where visitors can easily edit the content of the site. Sometimes, there are limits to who can edit put in place by the creator of a wiki. These include requiring users to register or confirm an e-mail before they edit, or to get their account approved by the admin before they can edit. Some wikis have policies when breaking news happen or an article gets trolled to lock down the article so only registered users can edit or wiki admins can edit. The culture of editing on specific wikis thus develops around the who can edit process as locking down wikis to prevent edits can effect the frequency that an article is updated.

For comprehensive wiki articles, the ideal is to have to have editors who approach the topic from different perspectives, where there is inherent conflict in the content and perspective being presented. If this situation does not exist, an article can be highjacked by one or two editors who seek to push their own perspective. The more edits and people involved in contributing to the article, the less likely the article will be biased. This also makes vandalism less problematic as people are incentivized to quickly remove that material.

Wikis can be a good tool for gauging interest in a particular topic over time as most wiki software keeps a record of all edits to a page. For some of the big wikis, like Wikipedia, data also exists for how many views an article has over a certain time period. This can help track more passive community interest in a topic.

Wikipedia’s English language article about the Melbourne Storm is probably the most visited wiki article about the team and appears third in Google’s search results for the team. The article, found at , was created on May 23, 2004. As of May 9, 2010, the article had 1,732 total edits made to it. The controversy involving the Melbourne Storm broke on April 22, 2010. 1,471 of the edits were made prior to that. In the period between the article’s creation and the day before the controversy broke, an average of .681 edits per day were made to the article. In the eighteen-day period since the controversy broke, an average of 14.5 edits per day were made to the article. The vast majority of these edits were made in the first three days, with 90 edits made on April 22, 56 edits made on April 23 and 69 edits made on April 24. On April 24, in response to repeated vandalism, the article was semi-protected; this meant that only registered users who had confirmed their e-mail could edit the article. The protection had the effect of reducing the total number of daily edits to the article. After that, peak editing days included April 26 and May 3 with seven edits, and April 25 and May 5 with six edits. There were zero edits on April 28, May 6, May 7 and May 9. The controversy certainly caused an increase in the number of edits. If the day that the controversy broke and the next two days are excluded, the average number of daily edits is 3.06 edits per day. This is still higher than the period prior to the controversy and the trend will probably continue at least until the end of the season.

The article views per day mirrors the total edits by day. Based on data provided by Henrick (2010, May 1 and May 9), there is a correlation of .904 between the total daily edits and the total daily page views. According to Henrick (2010, May 1) during April 2010, the article was viewed a total of 49,540 times. Of these views, 40,355 views were between April 22, when the story broke, and April 30. The peak day for visits was on April 22, when the article was viewed 14,800 times. The average page views between April 22 and April 30 was 4,482 views per day. If this period is extended out to include data provided by Henrick (2010, May 9) for May 1 to May 8, the average views per day is 2,700. If the three days around when the controversy first broke are excluded, the average edits per day drops to 1,143. This stands in contrast to the period between April 1 and April 21 where the average page views per day was 438. The above average page views trend appears to be continuing. There has not been a decrease in overall interest in the Melbourne Storm on English Wikipedia.

In addition to the English language article about the Melbourne Storm on Wikipedia, there are articles in two other languages: French and Italian. The French language article, , was created on March 1, 2006. Since the controversy started on April 22 and May 8, there have been 35 total edits to the article. Unlike the English language article, total edits per day peaked on April 24, 2010 with 19 with the second highest editing day occurring on April 23 with 7. The average total edits per day during this period was 2.1. In April, prior to the controversy, the average edits per day was zero. Also unlike the English language article, it was not locked because of vandalism. According to Henrickhe (2010, May 1) peak views per day happened on April 23 and April 24 with 59. The next day with the greatest number of views in the period between April 22 and May 8 is May 8 with 34. The average viewed per day in the April 22 to May 8 period was 17.4 and the average viewed per day in April prior to the controversy was 3.4. The correlation between the total edits per day and views per day in the period between April 1 and May 8 is .7740. The French Wikipedia article saw an increase that was proportionally bigger than the English article but the total views and edits were much smaller on the French article.

The Italian language Wikipedia article, , was created on December 21, 2007. The article had two edits in 2008 and one in 2009. Since the controversy broke on April 22 and May 8, there have two edits to the article. These two edits are the only edits made during 2010. According to Henrickhe (2010, May 1) , the total number of article views from April 1 to April 21 was 30. According to Henrickhe (2010, May 8), the total number of page views per day was 58. The day with the most views was April 23, with 14 views. The next day with the most views was May 3, with 8 views. The Italian Wikipedia article saw an increase in the total number of edits and page views as a result of the controversy. It might have been larger but the Italian interest in the team is much smaller to start with than the French or English language communities.

Outside of Wikipedia, there are a few small wikis that focus on the NRL and Rugby League. These wikis generally lack detailed information on the daily total page views but still provide information on the editing history. One such wiki is the NRL Central Wiki that is hosted on Wikia. It has an article about the Melbourne Storm located at The article was created on August 13, 2009 and was last updated on October 10, 2009. It has not been updated since the controversy. The wiki the article is hosted has only had three non-bot edits in the past 30 days so the lack of updates is not surprising. A few other wikis have articles that mention the Melbourne Storm. Most of these are institutional wikis where article histories are not available or where content is posted by its creator and never intended to be edited by a wider audience. There does not appear to be a movement by wikis to create additional content in response to or to try to capitalize on interest in response to the controversy.


Twitter is a microblogging service. Users can post 140 character messages , called tweets, that are shared with anyone who chooses to follow them. Twitter is one of the most well known and popular social networks in Australia.

There are two main ways to measure Twitter activity. The first is to keep track of the total followers an account has. The second way is to monitor the total number of daily tweets posted about a topic posted across the whole network and by specific accounts.

The Melbourne Storm have an official Twitter account at @MelbStormRLC . There is an unofficial Melbourne Storm Twitter account run by a fansite at @MelbourneStorm_ . As of March 9, 2010, the official account had 458 followers. This contrasts with @MelbourneStorm_ which had 605 followers as of March 8, 2010. By May 10, about nineteen days after the controversy broke, the official account had 1,037 followers and @ MelbourneStorm_ had 720 followers. That was an increase of 579 and 115 followers respectively. The situation has not hurt growth for either account and people are still interested in keeping up with the team and what they are doing.

When compared to the official Twitter accounts for the NRL, Gold Coast Titans, Manly Sea Eagles, North Queensland Cowboys, Parramatta Eels, Canberra Raiders, South Sydney Rabbitohs and New Zealand Warriors, the follower growth for the Melbourne Storm suggests a potential connection to the controversy creating additional interest or a fanbase that has become much more interested in Twitter in a short period of time. (Table 1) The only account with a greater increase in total number of followers is the NRL, which picked up 942 followers. The Melbourne Storm saw a fifty-five percent increase in the new followers. The next closest team of the aforementioned in the same period was the Canberra Raiders who saw a forty-two percent increase. In this context, it reaffirms that additional interest in the team was likely generated by the controversy.

Table 1

Twitter Follower Counts by Official Club Accounts and Date
Team Account



% increase
Gold Coast Titans GCTitans



Manly Sea Eagles manlyseaeagles



Melbourne Storm MelbStormRLC



North Queensland Cowboys northqldcowboys






Parramatta Eels parramatta_eels



Canberra Raiders RaidersCanberra



South Sydney Rabbitohs SSFCRABBITOHS



New Zealand Warriors thenzwarriors




Detailed statistics regarding the total number of references for the Melbourne Storm by day on Twitter are not available. It makes it harder to determine the total daily volume of conversation involving the team in the days surrounding the news leaking about the salary cap violations. People were interested in the Melbourne Storm as the team was briefly trending on Twitter when the story broke. Manual counting can be done but Twitter search only goes back around one week What can be more easily tracked is the posting volume per day of specific accounts related to the Melbourne Storm to compare their activities before and after the controversy broke. In the case of the @MelbourneStorm_, the account does not update regularly with about twenty tweets made during the past year. Their last tweet was on March 24, 2010; they have not posted since the news broke. @MelbStormRLC has posted several tweets since the controversy and has mentioned it. From April 22 to May 9, eighteen days after the story broke, the Storm have made eleven total tweets. Prior to that, the team had made thirteen tweets. The difference in tweet totals is inconsequential. Neither account made changes to their Twitter posting in response in to the controversy.

Searching through Twitter, it is very clear that people are still tweeting about the team and, as of May 10, are tweeting about them at a comparatively higher rate than other teams in the league. One popular way of indicating a tweet is about a certain topic is to include a hashtag in front of a word. This makes the whole phrase easily searchable on Twitter. For example, a person who is tweeting about the Melbourne Storm may include #melbournestorm to indicate the tweet is about the team. There generally fewer of these tweets as a great many accounts on Twitter come directly from RSS feeds. These feeds were not originally created for Twitter and are absent some of the cultural practices and do not use coding tools to help make finding posts easier. Thus, tweets tagged with a # are fewer and more readily countable in search. This allows for comparisons to be made between teams over a short period. For the period between May 3 and May 8, 2010, #melbournestorm beat out all the other teams that were sampled for most the most discussed NRL team. (Table 2) There were twenty-one references for the team on May 5. This is sixteen more than #manlyseaeagles on the same date and the only other team with five or more tweets with a hashtag on a single day. The controversy can likely be seen as the cause for the increase in the number of tweets when compared to other teams in the league.

Table 2
Hashtagged Marked NRL Team Tweets
Team Keyword





Brisbane Broncos #brisbanebroncos





Canberra Raiders #canberraraiders





Gold Coast Titans #GCtitans





Gold Coast Titans #goldcoasttitans





Manly Sea Eagles #manlyseaeagles





Melbourne Storm #melbournestorm





Newcastle Knights #NewcastleKnights





North Queensland Cowboys #NQCowboys





North Queensland Cowboys #NQldCowboys





North Queensland Cowboys #NorthQldCowboys





North Queensland Cowboys #NorthQueenslandCowboys





Parramatta Eels #ParramattaEels





Penrith Panthers #PenrithPanthers





Sydney Roosters #SydneyRoosters





Wests Tigers #WestsTigers







Facebook is one of the largest social networks in Australia and it arguably has the largest population of Melbourne Storm fans online. Outside of interest monitoring, the easiest way to monitor the activities of fans is to examine the fan community’s growth on official pages and groups, and activity levels on these groups.

The Melbourne Storm has an official user profile on Facebook. The profile is for their mascot, Storm Man. It has a limited profile view so only people who have friended the account can view posts and interact with content posted by Storm Man. When the profile was checked on April 6, 2010, the account had 3,203 friends. Checked again on April 28, the account had 4,154. On May 9, the account had 4,401 friends and on May 10, it had 4,494 friends. While the total new friends for their account was fewer than other clubs such as the Brisbane Lions over the same period (Table 3), the team had the largest percentage increase in: 28.7% versus 13.5% for the next closest team, the North Queensland Cowboys. The controversy did not cost the team any friends and resulted in a higher percentage gain when compared to other teams. It has resulted in a net momentum gain that continues almost three weeks after the controversy first broke out.

Table 3
Facebook Fan Counts by Club and Date
Official Facebook account



% increase
Melbourne Storm



North Queensland Cowboys



Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles



Wests Tigers



Gold Coast Titans



Sydney Roosters



Newcastle Knights



Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks



Canberra Raiders



Brisbane Lions




Facebook Fan Pages are created by teams and by fans. The person who created the Fan Page can post to the wall, control else who can post to the wall, control the type of content posted to the Fan Page and create a unique landing page. Members of a Fan Page can comment on wall posts and indicate they like the post. There are many Melbourne Storm fans that have created Fan Pages and many more have joined, commented and liked posts made to these Fan Pages. A quick search on Facebook for Fan Pages dedicated to the team using the keywords “Melbourne Storm” results in over 500 pages about the team. By looking at a sample of the individual Fan Pages to check the daily posting volume of wall posts and the number of likes and comments to those posts, an idea of how the controversy effected fan interests can be determined.

For this, three Fan Pages were chosen. These were the top three Fan Pages in search that were not created in response to the controversy. They are Melbourne Storm, Best team in NRL.. Melbourne Storm ! and melbourne storm :) . The total posts per day by the person who runs the Fan Page, and comments and likes per post associated with the post for the day were recorded for the period between April 1 and May 10, 2010. (Table 4) When comparing the total posts in the period between April 1 and April 22, 2010 to the period between April 23 to May 10, two of the three Fan Pages had more posts made by the maintainers before the controversy. (Graph 1) Two of the three groups saw an increase in the total comments made after the controversy. For Melbourne Storm, a Fan Page with over 40,000 members, the increase was massive going from 54 comments to 803 comments. The increase for Best team in NRL.. Melbourne Storm !, a group with 281 members as of May 10, was much smaller. It went from 252 to 257 comments. For all three groups, there was an increase in the number of likes after the controversy took place. While posting levels by Fan Page maintainers may not have increased, the level of engagement and interest in the team for the fan population did. The controversy has created a climate where fans are more engaged with posts.

Mailing lists

During much of the 1990s, mailing lists were one of the most popular tools for fans to use in order to communicate with each other. The creation of mailing lists became much easier when sites like egroups, coollists, topica, Yahoo!Groups and Google groups were created. They largely automated the process of creating mailing lists, provided web based archives and removed barriers of having to understand majordomo syntax in order to join a list.

Australian sports fans actively used these services to participate in their team’s fandom. Some leagues and teams were more popular than other leagues and teams. Amongst the fan communities utilizing mailing lists were Melbourne Storm fans. Most of the lists dedicated to team were on Yahoo!Groups, where there are currently eight lists. These eight lists include melbournestorm2, melbournestormrugbyleague, melbournestormsupportersclub, Storm_Squad, StormSupporters, MSSC-Storm-Mailouts and melbourne_storm_supporters. Many of these lists are no longer active. There are a variety of reasons for this including absent list owners, large volumes of spam content posted on list, people switching to different services in order to express their fondness for the team or fans losing interest in a team. If spam content is not counted in total posting volume by month, the peak posting month was February 2001 with 59 total posts across all eight lists. January 2001 had the next highest posting volume by month with 50 posts. Given the always small and inactive community, it is not surprising that there have been zero posts on these lists since the controversy broke out. These lists have also seen zero growth in membership since their totals were last checked on February 20, 2010. The controversy had no effect on the Storm’s mailing list community.


According to Robot Co-op (2010), 43things “is the world’s largest goal-setting community.” Members of the site set goals for themselves that are published on their profiles and on lists of others who share the same goal. Members are also encouraged to blog about their efforts in trying to complete their goals. Other members are encouraged to cheer people on as they work to complete a goal. When a goal has been completed, people change the goal status to “I did this” and it appears as completed on their profile. This site is relatively popular; according to Alexa Internet, Inc. (2010), the site is ranked the 2,549th most popular website in Australia.

There are a number of people who have set Australia related sports goals on 43thing. This includes playing for certain clubs to attending the finals to seeing the team they barrack for play. On April 1, 2010, the site was searched for any goals that connected to the Melbourne Storm. Only one goal related to the Melbourne Storm was found. It is “Go to a Melbourne Storm Game.” Two people, erynne and mmcpharlane, had listed this as a goal they were working towards completing. When checked again on May 10, no one had added any additional goals related to the Melbourne Storm. No movement had been made towards completing the existing goal: Both individuals still listed themselves as working towards it and neither had updated their blog to indicate they were any closer to accomplishing this goal. The controversy has not had any measurable impact on people’s goal setting and efforts towards accomplishing their goals as they pertain to the Melbourne Storm.


The controversy involving the Melbourne Storm’s salary cap violations and the subsequent punishment of rewarding them zero points for the season has not resulted in a loss of people interested in the team or resulted in a drop in activity level on the part of fans. Across smaller and less popular services and web sites, there has been no behavior change; the controversy has had a null effect in that no one removed content or interests, nor created content and added interests. For larger sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia, there has been a gain in followers, viewers and interactions. Eighteen days out from the initial incident, a long tail increase in views and interactions exists when compared to the period prior to the controversy. While some of the initial burst of activity and interest could be a consequence of negativity publicity, the long tail interest two to three weeks out is much harder to attribute to solely to wanting to watch a controversy for the sake of entertainment. If interest continue to stay elevated, the club should be able to leverage to increase club membership and sponsorship deals, especially as they apply to their online presence, because they have successfully used the controversy to grow their fanbase. The behaviors of fans demonstrate that have been incentized to express their loyalty and solidarity with the team.


Albanesius, C. (2010, April 19). Facebook makes ‘connections,’ adds community pages. PC Magazine, Retrieved from,2817,2362825,00.asp

Alexa Internet, Inc. (2010, May 10). – site info from alexa. Retrieved from

Henrik, Initials. (2010, May 1). Wikipedia article traffic statistics: Melbourne_Storm has been viewed 49377 times in 201004 . Retrieved from

Henrik, Initials. (2010, May 1). Wikipedia article traffic statistics: Melbourne_Storm has been viewed 276 times in 201004. Retrieved from

Henrik, Initials. (2010, May 1). Wikipedia article traffic statistics: Melbourne_Storm has been viewed 276 times in 201004. Retrieved from

Henrik, Initials. (2010, May 9). Wikipedia article traffic statistics: Melbourne_Storm has been viewed 5561 times in 201005. Retrieved from

Henrik, Initials. (2010, May 9). Wikipedia article traffic statistics: Melbourne_Storm has been viewed 91 times in 201005. Retrieved from

Henrik, Initials. (2010, May 9). Wikipedia article traffic statistics: Melbourne_Storm has been viewed 19 times in 201005. Retrieved from

Melbourne storm stripped of two premierships for salary cap breach. (2010, April 22). Fox Sports, Retrieved from,8659,27022196-5018866,00.html

Robot Co-op. (2010, May 10). List your goals on 43 things. Retrieved from

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Melbourne Storm and Wikipedia

Posted by Laura on Monday, 26 April, 2010

The Melbourne Storm cheating controversy with their salary camp has gotten a fair amount of attention by the Australian Twitter community and in local newspapers.  Given that, I was curious to see how the Wikipedia community had responded in terms of number of edits to the Melbourne Storm article.  I took a look at the article’s history about an hour before I posted this entry.  I then counted the total number of edits by day.  Wikipedia’s history is recorded at UTC.  This is a bit important when looking at time related data…

Melbourne Storm Wikipedia Edits

Date Number of Edits
20-Apr 6
21-Apr 0
22-Apr 90
23-Apr 56
24-Apr 69
25-Apr 6
26-Apr 6

Most of the edits were made on April 22.  This was, based on UTC, the day the story broke.   Total edits spiked again on April 24.  After that, there was a huge drop off.  The story broke quickly, people edited and then after most of the pertinent details were added, they stopped editing.  Some of the drop off can probably be explained by:   (Protected Melbourne Storm: Excessive vandalism ([edit=autoconfirmed] (expires 09:52, 1 May 2010 (UTC)) [move=autoconfirmed] (expires 09:52, 1 May 2010 (UTC)))).

It is an interesting bit of pattern behavior and it would be interesting to go into further depth regarding other historical editing patterns for the article and who edited the article, and if they had ever edited the article prior to this latest controversy.  That’s for another post some time in the future.

Edited to add: There is an Italian language article about the Melbourne Storm.  There have been 15 total edits to the article singe it was created on December 21, 2007.  The article had 2 edits in 2008 and 1 in 2009.  In period of breaking news around this story, there has been 1 new edit made to the article.

More edited to add: There is a French language article about the Melbourne Storm.  It was created on March 1, 2006.  There have been 27 total edits to the article since the controversy started.  There were 59 total edits to the article, including these.

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