After “weather” was chosen as an attractive topic for the community, the next step is the selection of the appropriate technology which will support it. Weather-it will be an online community, so apart from the usability of the technology, we should also take into account the sociabilty aspect. According to Preece (2000), sociability has three main components: purpose, people and policies.
First of all, the community should look attractive and professional, as it is significant motivation for the members to join (Fogg et al., 2003) and use it (Van der Heijden, 2003). Then, the activities of the community should serve the purpose of the community existense. As Weather-it will form an online community for weather investigations, some essential technology requirements should include features that facilitate the creation of investigations, data upload and interpretation of the investigations’ results. The thing that differentiates Weather-it from Inquiring Rock Hunters project will be the option to conduct joint investigations. Thus, a basic feature will allow the users to join other missions and of course, let them search and view which investigations are available.
The lonely investigations conducted by the Rock Hunters had lead the people in the community not to contact each other. The joint investigations along with some communication technologies should be able to obviate this undesirable for a community behaviour. Firts of all, the members of the community should have the option to convey their identity throught their personal profiles by adding some information about themselves and why not, a foto representative for them (Walther et al., 2001; Resnick et al., 2012). Thereafter, important features that may support the communication between the participants, can be the “comments” and the “forum”. Significant things are also knowing who else is a member of the community, who is online and whether somebody responded to your comment or gave feedback to your mission. Finally, the members of the community should be able to invite their friends to the community (Resnick et al., 2012) and share their investigation with them. A rather competitive aspect in the community, that will help make it active, should be given by using a reputation system such as thumbs up/down, badges and prizes for the top contributors, responders, data collectors or sharers.
The policies that will govern Weather-it, should reflect the accepted social norms and the culture of the community by providing codes of behaviour to help the community maintain its focus. In addition to that, the members of the community should get informed and in some occassions give their consent for participating in the PhD project beyond the weather community.
Splitting the aspects into 3 categories (essential, valuable and nice to have) should help in finding the online platform for the Weather-it project.
Fogg, B. J., Soohoo, C., Danielson, D. R., Marable, L., Stanford, J., & Tauber, E. R. (2003, June). How do users evaluate the credibility of Web sites?: a study with over 2,500 participants. In Proceedings of the 2003 conference on Designing for user experiences (pp. 1-15). ACM.
Preece, J. (2000) Online Communities: Designing Usability, Supporting Sociability, Chichester, England, John Wiley & Sons.
Resnick, P., Konstan, J., Chen, Y., & Kraut, R. E. (2012). Starting New Online Communities. Building successful online communities: Evidence-based social design, 231.
Van der Heijden, H. (2003). Factors influencing the usage of websites: the case of a generic portal in The Netherlands. Information & Management, 40(6), 541-549.
Walther, J. B., Slovacek, C. L., & Tidwell, L. C. (2001). Is a picture worth a thousand words? Photographic images in long-term and short-term computer-mediated communication. Communication Research, 28(1), 105-134.