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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Quantifying the value of peer-produced Information in social tagging systems Santos-Neto, Elizeu

Abstract

Commons-based peer production systems are marked by three main characteristics, they are: radically decentralized, non-proprietary, and collaborative. Peer production is in stark contrast to market-based production and/or on a centralized organization (e.g., carpooling vs. car rental; couch surfing vs. hotels; Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica). Social tagging systems represent a class of web systems, where peer production is central in their design. In these systems, decentralized users collect, share, and annotate (or tag) content collaboratively to produce a public pool of annotated content. This uncoordinated effort helps filling the demand for labeling an ever increasing amount of user-generated content on the web with textual information. Moreover, these labels (or simply tags) can be valuable as input to mechanisms such as personalized search or content promotion. Assessing the value of individuals contributions to peer production systems is key to design user incentives to bring high quality contributions. However, quantifying the value of peer-produced information such as tags is intrinsically challenging, as the value of information is inherently contextual and multidimensional. This research aims to address these two issues in the context of social tagging systems. To this end, this study sets forth the following hypothesis: assessing the value of peer-produced information in social tagging systems can be achieved by harnessing context and user behavior characteristics. The following questions guide the investigations. Characterization: (Q1). What are the characteristics of individual user activity? (Q2). What are the characteristics of social user activity? (Q3). What are the aspects that influence users perception of tag value? Design: (Q4). How to assess the value of tags for exploratory search? (Q5). What is the value of peer-produced information for content promotion? This study applies a mixed methods approach. The findings show that patterns of user activity can inform the design of supporting mechanisms for tagging systems. Moreover, the results suggest that the proposed method to assess value of tags is able to differentiate between valuable tags from less valuable tags, as perceived by users. Moreover, the analysis of the value of peer-produced information for content promotion shows that peer-produced sources can oftentimes outperform expert-produced sources.

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