The major aim of this study is to find out whether people articulate their information needs and provide information to others differently in online sites of various types, more specifically, blogs and internet discussion forums.
The study is based on the analysis of ten blogs and 40 threads of Suomi24, a Finnish internet discussion forum. The blogs and discussion threads focus on the same topic, that is, coping with depression. For the study, 1,044 blog postings, 1,727 bloggers' and blog readers' comments and 1,236 messages written by the discussion forum participants were analyzed by means of descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis.
The bloggers, blog readers and discussion group participants mainly articulated needs related to getting an opinion or evaluation of an issue, while needs for factual information and procedural information about possible ways of action were presented less frequently. Information provision drew strongly on the use of personal knowledge. There were no remarkable differences between the types of online sites with regard to the articulation of information needs and using sources for providing information to others.
The findings are based on the analysis of a limited number of Finnish blogs and discussion threads in the field of coping with depression. Thus, the findings cannot be generalized to all online forums of these kinds.
Blogs and internet discussion forums provide useful sites to pose questions for online contributors and to get opinions as well as factual information about the ways to cope with depression.
The study is unique in that it compares information needs and information provision in online sites of various types.
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