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Journal of the Association for Information Systems

Abstract

With the popularity of question-and-answer (Q&A) communities, widespread dissemination of scientific knowledge has become more viable than ever before. However, those contributing high-quality professional scientific knowledge are confronted with the challenge of making their contributions popular, since non expert readers may not recognize the importance of their contributions given the massive amount of information available online. In this study, we show that non expert readers are capable of evaluating the professionalism of content contributed in such communities as well as experts. However, we discovered that a salient discrepancy exists between the content non experts favor and the content they perceive as professional. In line with studies that have suggested that writing techniques play an important role in how expert content is received by lay persons, we investigated how the use of linguistic devices affects both the perceived professionalism and the popularity of contributions in Q&A communities. Based on both secondary data and a scenario-based survey, we identified specific linguistic devices that can increase content popularity without reducing perceived professionalism. Additionally, we revealed linguistic devices that increase popularity at the expense of perceived professionalism in this context. Finally, we conducted a laboratory experiment to more firmly establish the causal effects of the linguistic device use. The triangulated findings have important implications for both research and practice on communicating scientific knowledge in Q&A communities

DOI

10.17705/1jais.00 563

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