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Статья

Communities of co-commenting in the Russian LiveJournal and their topical coherence

Internet Research. 2016. Vol. 26. No. 3. P. 710-732.

Purpose – The paper addresses the problem of what drives the formation of latent discussion communities, if any, in the blogosphere: topical composition of posts or their authorship? The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the knowledge about structure of co-commenting.

Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on a dataset of 17,386 full text posts written by top 2,000 LiveJournal bloggers and over 520,000 comments that result in about 4.5 million edges in the network of co-commenting, where posts are vertices. The Louvain algorithm is used to detect communities of co-commenting. Cosine similarity and topic modeling based on latent Dirichlet allocation are applied to study topical coherence within these communities.

Findings – Bloggers unite into moderately manifest communities by commenting roughly the same sets of posts. The graph of co-commenting is sparse and connected by a minority of active non-top commenters. Communities are centered mainly around blog authors as opinion leaders and, to a lesser extent, around a shared topic or topics.

Research limitations/implications – The research has to be replicated on other datasets with more thorough hand coding to ensure the reliability of results and to reveal average proportions of topic-centered communities.

Practical implications – Knowledge about factors around which co-commenting communities emerge, in particular clustered opinion leaders that often attract such communities, can be used by policy makers in marketing and/or political campaigning when individual leadership is not enough or not applicable.

Originality/value – The research contributes to the social studies of online communities. It is the first study of communities based on co-commenting that combines examination of the content of commented posts and their topics.