Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Online communities enable members to exchange messages, and rich content is generated in the wake of these contributions. Little research has systematically investigated how this content is utilized. In this paper we use the Heuristic-Systematic Model of information processing to explore the mechanisms by which the potential value of these information assets can be realized. We argue that the extent to which message content and heuristic cues influence the validity assessment process is moderated by two factors: how consistent the new information is with what is already known and the extent to which information-seeking members are actively searching for on-topic information to satisfy their specific information needs. Survey data collected from two online communities generally support the hypotheses derived from this model. This study demonstrates that community members process information from online communities in a highly contextual manner that may extend to the functionality of the technical tools provided by the online communities. It also suggests numerous opportunities for future research and potential ways that online communities might improve their information sharing.