Previous research has confirmed that newsgroups offer different forms of social support for their "members." One major distinction which emerged was that between newsgroups that offer more informational support and those that offer a mix of informational and other aspects of social support. In this study, we conduct a simple form of network analysis of the pattern of shared posts on a newsgroup to reveal the structure of the group. Clear and striking differences between the networks from the different types of group are demonstrated. Further, multi-social support group is revealed to be more complex, as predicted. This finding is supported by an examination of some of the messages that are posted to it. We argue, as others have previously done, that social network analysis is a very useful method when researching the nature of computer-mediated communication.
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|Published - Dec 2000