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Latent Groups in Online Communities: a Longitudinal Study in Wikipedia

Journal article
Authors Arto Lanamäki
Juho Lindman
Published in Computer Supported Cooperative Work
Volume 27
Issue 1
Pages 77–106
ISSN 0925-9724
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Pages 77–106
Language en
Keywords Online community, Wikipedia, Latency, Latent group, Longitudinal
Subject categories Information Systems, Social aspects


Research on online communities has shown that content production involves manifest groups and latent users. This paper conceptualizes a related but distinct phenomenon of latent groups. We ground this contribution in a longitudinal study on the Finnish Wikipedia (2007–2014). In the case of experts working on content within their area of expertise, individuals can constitute a group that maintains itself over time. In such a setting, it becomes viable to view the group as an acting unit instead of as individual nodes in a network. Such groups are able to sustain their activities even over periods of inactivity. Our theoretical contribution is the conceptualization of latent groups, which includes two conditions: 1) a group is capable of reforming after inactivity (i.e., dormant), and 2) a group is difficult to observe to an outsider (i.e., non-manifest).

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