Online question-and-answer (Q&A) communities serve as important channels for knowledge diffusion. The purpose of this study is to investigate the dynamic development process of online knowledge systems and explore the final or progressive state of system development. By measuring the nonlinear characteristics of knowledge systems from the perspective of complexity science, the authors aim to enrich the perspective and method of the research on the dynamics of knowledge systems, and to deeply understand the behavior rules of knowledge systems.
The authors collected data from the programming-related Q&A site Stack Overflow for a ten-year period (2008–2017) and included 48,373 tags in the analyses. The number of tags is taken as the time series, the correlation dimension and the maximum Lyapunov index are used to examine the chaos of the system and the Volterra series multistep forecast method is used to predict the system state.
There are strange attractors in the system, the whole system is complex but bounded and its evolution is bound to approach a relatively stable range. Empirical analyses indicate that chaos exists in the process of knowledge sharing in this social labeling system, and the period of change over time is about one week.
This study contributes to revealing the evolutionary cycle of knowledge stock in online knowledge systems and further indicates how this dynamic evolution can help in the setting of platform mechanics and resource inputs.
This work was supported by the National Social Science Foundation of China (21CTQ024).
Shi, Y., Cao, H. and Chen, S. (2023), "Order and disorder in the evolution of online knowledge community: an investigation of the chaotic behavior in social tagging systems with evidence of stack overflow", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-08-2022-0353
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