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Rolf Pawelzik: Reciprocal Knowledge Exchange within the ImageJ Community


It has been argued that mentoring is one important activity of community members to naturalize/socialize new members to become productive participants of an existing collaboration project. Mentoring manifests itself as knowledge exchange in threaded discussions about focal topics in mailing lists.

It is well known that the intensity of knowledge exchange in mailing lists is heterogenously distributed across individuals and gives rise to skewed interaction structures ('who responds to whom'), as in 'star-like' or 'core-periphery' structures, which manifest a strong dichotomy seperating a small core group of highly active knowledge distributors from a large peripheral group of knowledge requesters.

A community's ability to close the core-periphery gap and to develop a more sophisticated stratification in terms of 'levels of reciprocity' is considered an important indicator for successful growth, socialization and stabilization.

This paper will report results of a case study of the evolution of knowledge exchange of the ImageJ user/developer community ( from October 2004 till today, retrieved from the mailing list archive

The study reconstructs characteristic dynamics of individual community members ('trajectories') and of the social stratification in terms of 'levels of reciprocity' of the community at large. The results confirm general patterns found in many collaboration projects, but their quantitative assessment using measures of complex network analysis revealed interesting differences btw. communities of comparable size and age, somewhat like a 'fingerprint'.

The quantitative assessment of the relationship btw. knowledge received (mentoring) and given (reciprocation) on individual and collective level has the potential to predict members likely behaviour in the future and to guide core member's allocation of attention, especially for those individuals moving near the core-periphery boundary.


ImageJ community research

Administrative data

Presenting author: Rolf Pawelzik
Organisation: CRP Henri Tudor


Type: invited Poster

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