This practicum project has been a great learning experience. I’ve discovered quite a bit about the workings of forums, and observed quite a bit of interaction between individuals.
Users can create their own identity. Can progress through levels (earning new titles with level of engagement). They can create a community base by adding other users to their friend lists. The forum allows for sharing of resources, ideas, opinions, correcting misconceptions. They allow for conversation outside of the specified topic (Ex: Dr Who).
These forums can create a sense of community for sharing and learning and creating a home away from home. But, that only counts for people who actively seek a second family. For those people who use the forum for updates and information, or infrequently, these forums do not create the sense of identity or community that it would for those who truly delve into the cyber world.
For myself, I do not feel the sense of attachment or connection that would draw me towards this forum again and again, as it does for some users who post daily/biweekly.
Although, some users posted some really cool peer production content : videos of mash ups and updates on series news. It was cool to see the user created stuff, and convenient to find the news I wouldn’t have normally sought out.
Looking over the Wikipedia page on Internet Forums, I realized they had nothing included about identity.
To me, identity is very important to participating in a web forum, because it shapes how others perceive you. You have the ability to include or exclude information about yourself, or even generate made-up information. Before I really added much to my account biography, many people weren’t viewing my profile, and that may have been a reason no one really interacted with me – because I was no one, I had no identity! … Either way, no one really interacted with me a whole lot on a personal level, but that’s possibly due to other factors, like level of engagement, timeline, etc.
So, here is the post I added to Wikipedia!