Do you like to question everything? Then you’re welcome here


In the today’s world of internet people are surrounded by lots of information often leading to an overload of information. It is even more problematic to identify the right information from the wrong or redundant one.  This overload of information can often lead to unanswered questions which we may face in our day to day lives. Is organic healthy? Should I eat GMO food? What are gravitational waves? Are vaccines reliable? A simple google search can yield results which offer contrasting arguments and you just do not know what to believe. Introducing the Skeptics Guide to the Universe,  http://www.theskepticsguide.org/. An online community of users and experts which tackle these day to day questions and provide answers based on logic, science and analytical reasoning. It is also an award winning science podcast with over 500 episodes.

How does it work? 

SGU is a mix of a consumer and an expert driven community. It is a highly organized community and yet very social in nature. The focus on the community is not on any single product or topic, but on the method of analyzing topics. Hence it allows for a wider range of discussions and user participation. The community, however, also has a paid membership which enables users to access premium content. The premium content is purely generated by experts and thus has a high appeal of novice or new members. Members value the informational value of the content and hence take active part in the community.

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One can also be part of the community without paying any fee. Free members can access the Facebook posts, contribute to the blog and learn from other members. Over 1 million people like their Facebook page. This creates a positive network effect, because the more benefit the members get from other users the more likely they are to contribute. Apart from the community blogs, free members can also get access to expert blogs such NeuroLogica Blog which is written by one of the founders of SGU. I believe that one of the major reasons for experts to actively contribute on this community is because of their belief in enhancing social value.

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However a quick look at Facebook and Blog posts reveals that the 90:9:1 rules applies even in this community. For example, a recent post of NASA’s astronaut Scott Kelly’s mission, received around 340 likes but only 30 comments. It is not possible to estimate how many viewed this post because of technical limitations but I am sure that the number must be over 3000.

Can participation be increased? 

Since SGU is a mix of user and expert driven community, to increase participation from users it can give incentives to users to contribute. These incentives can be in the form of access to restricted content, or user badges. But the idea should be to enable quality contribution, because at the roots of community lies structured problem solving. Hence any measure which decrease the quality of content posted on SGU should not be adopted.

SGU is a highly influencing community and eventually it must continue it’s normative commitment.

 

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