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Apr 04, 2006



The survey has to do with a bit more than just social networking. A good portion deals with personal knowledge/opinions of public-health issues from AIDS to SARS to Avian Flu ... and in some ways that have little to do with SL, imo.

Still, it would be interesting to see results.


hate to be paranoid, but the sheer amount of hiv and stds questions makes me think this is a covert survey to find out people's knowedge about STDs, or maybe they're trying to see who is spreading information about STDs in SL?



Beyond the potential for mapping and analysing social networks in SL, this survey might also help shed some light on the number of "cross-gender" SL players.

I can't fill out the survey - as I actually don't have my own SL account - but I am curious if the survey inquires into questions like RL profession, and marital status. Last few times I've played, I've noticed a surprising number of stay-at-home mothers who spend their days socializing - and running businesses - in SL. Just found that interesting, is all. -sj


It doesn't get into much of your personal information beyond your your gender and your av's gender and your opinions on certain things. It asks what country you're from, I think.

But, again, curious about the heavy emphasis on health issues and also the nearly complete lack of any mention of that slant in the description of the survey. (At least in what I read.) It's almost as though you go into a completely different survey. Not knowing the whole purpose of the survey it's a jarring shift.

It is possible to map the social interactions of a virtual world like Second Life because of its persistent properties like Friends lists, groups and other “official” social formations.

Oh, my.

"Number of collected Calling Cards" was once a stat reported on a top-10 list. This lead to fly-by-requests for cards, which was quite irritating - and diluted the value of these as *any* indication of ties, weak or otherwise.

Similarly, the group structure isn't that great as any social trust metric, for similar reasons (minimum thresholds for various actions, etc.) The information that flows through my SL-Groups consists mostly of votes to kick people out followed by kick-out notices.

Explicit networking != Trusted Information Flow

Beware any conclusions of this research...


The information that flows through my SL-Groups consists mostly of votes to kick people out followed by kick-out notices.

Further, most "votes" in my groups aren't votes at all but merely announcements!


Hi folks, and apologies for not responding to the comments earlier; I was away from my computer yesterday and only returned to them late last night. Instead of blundering through them bleary-eyed and hardly conscious, I wanted some time to carefully construct my responses.

Firstly, thanks very much for your thoughts and critiques. Randy, regarding your concern about the validity of the research, I want to make clear that the survey bases it collection of friend and acquaintance names on calling cards, but the pertinent social network is pulled from this bounty of both strong and (occasionally very) weak/acquaintance ties using questions which delve more deeply into the respondent’s relationship with each person listed. In fact, that some people have so many calling cards is a great permanent record of their interaction patterns in SL.

In the pilot research and pre-survey interviews with SL Residents, the overwhelming finding was that social ties are directly related to the avatars listed on CC lists, and that collecting these would be an indication of some form of association. Placing someone on a CC list represents an explicit formation of a tie.

Using this method also helps in the name generation, without relying upon priming questions. More names are added in a secondary question which asks for avatars the respondent anticipates will be added to his or her calling card list in the near future. This metric is less-"random", and indicates a different strength of tie.

At the moment, I’m not interested in group-level information which, I agree, does not immediately indicate acquaintance or any formal tie.

Secondly, with regard to the health information comments, I'm interested in three different types of networks - trust-based networks, communication pattern-based networks and expertise-based networks - which theory and research suggest feature distinct properties and processes. I have chosen "health" as the domain to assess expertise, as it’s relevant to all users of virtual worlds, regardless of whether such information is relevant to the virtual world itself. That we are collecting public health risk knowledge information is listed on the introductory page as one of the areas the survey covers (relevant text replicated here):

"The first three sections explore how networks of friends work, including who's connected to whom and how contacts relate to one another. The last two sections deal with how the Second Life community understands public health risks."

From a social psychological perspective, I’m keen to develop an understanding of the knowledge norms of expertise networks, which is why these questions may appear to be “a completely different survey”, but in fact are relevant to the collection of social network data!

One of the issues that has risen in the past few days, however, is that some people do have a phenomenal number of people on their CC lists (upwards of 200!). To make their lives easier, I'm requesting that people who have more than 50 avs on their CC lists contact me directly, and that for the purposes of this survey, they list those people they still interact with regularly (i.e., about once a month). This will lose some weak tie data at the "merely an acquaintance" level, but will provide a richer dataset for the assessment of the closer network ties.

Hope this helps to clarify!



I have 230+ avatars in my calling card list - as I'm in a situation in Second Life where I come in contact with a great number of Avatars.

I counted approxomately 50 of those 230 that I'm in contact with regularly on a weekly basis or more.

Attempting to go thru the survey took 90 minutes to reach question #20... at that point I had entered 2000 responses, and just had to give up, unfortunately.

Neat survey, and I'm greatly curious as to what the results will be. Unfortunately, for someone with a very large social network, this survey was just too burdensome to complete :(

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