The Use of Off-the-Shelf Web Crawling, Data Management, and Social Network Analysis Tools in the Performance of Preliminary Research into Knowledge Contribution in Online Communities of Interest

Document Type


Lead Author Type

CIS Masters Student


Dr. John Reynolds, john.reynolds@cis.gvsu.edu; Dr. Gregory Schymik, schymikg@gvsu.edu

Embargo Period



For this project we gathered data in order to do some preliminary research into knowledge sharing within an online community of interest. The community of interest that we studied was the MG Experience Forum (www.mgexp.com). We used existing software tools including the iRobot web crawler, Microsoft Excel and Access, and a social network analysis tool, Net Miner 4, in order to collect, cleanse, manipulate, and analyze the data. The goals of the project were to demonstrate how these off-the-shelf tools can be used to accomplish preliminary research data collection, and to use the data patterns to speculate on why members share valuable knowledge pro-bono.

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