Tie Strength in Question & Answer on Social Network Sites


Asking friends, colleagues, or other trusted people to help answer a question or find information is a familiar and tried-and-true concept. Widespread use of online social networks has made social information seeking easier, and has provided researchers with opportunities to beter observe this process. In this paper, we relate question answering to tie strength, a metric drawn from sociology describing how close a friendship is.

We present a study evaluating the role of tie strength in question answers. We used previous research on tie strength in social media to generate tie strength information between participants and their answering friends, and asked them for feedback about the value of answers across several dimensions. While sociological studies have indicated that weak ties are able to provide better information, our findings are significant in that weak ties do not have this effect, and stronger ties (close friends) provide a subtle increase in information that contributes more to participants’ overall knowledge, and is less likely to have been seen before.

Katrina Panovich, Robert C. Miller, David R. Karger

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