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Title:Seeking Information Online: A Study of Interpersonal Interactions on an Online College Review Forum
Author(s):Taylor, Kaitlyn
Advisor(s):Tewksbury, David H.
Contributor(s):Tewksbury, David
Department / Program:Communication
Discipline:Liberal Arts and Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:B.A. (bachelor's)
Online reviews
conversation analysis
higher education
Abstract:Online review and discussion forums are a popular way consumers seek information about products, vacation destinations, and restaurants. They provide consumers with the unique opportunity to bypass the voice of the expert or company owner. The increasingly high-stakes and ambiguous U.S. college admissions process leads prospective college students and parents to utilize college review forums to ask questions and seek information from peers, current college students, and even admissions counselors online. These conversations can often be characterized as brutally honest and subject to scrutiny but are viewed by thousands of users like those found on College Confidential. Although current communication studies have examined the impact product and restaurant reviews have on their viewers, research has not analyzed the impact of the information presented in a high-stakes setting like the college search and selection process. To study the types of questions and information users share online, as well as response patterns and credential disclosure, I performed a content analysis of 48 conversation threads from a popular online college review forum. Results found that while most of the requests for information came from prospective college students, the majority of users who provided information supplied no information by which to be identified. I conclude that information produced by anonymous users online is apparently trusted to a greater degree than one might think, although users successfully provide requested information.
Issue Date:2015-05
Genre:Dissertation / Thesis
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Kaitlyn Taylor.
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-20

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