CSCW 2013 Workshop on Social Media Question Asking

Workshop Overview

Social media question asking, in which people use Internet technologies to solicit help from other people, is an increasingly common way for people to find information. This workshop aims to bring together researchers studying social media question asking from a variety of perspectives, including social scientists seeking to understand and describe the phenomenon and those seeking to create improved experiences through innovation in system building or user interface design. At the workshop, participants will review the current state of research in this area, and discuss issues relevant to the social media question asking research community, such as how to create public data sets, standardize metrics and measures, and handle privacy and ethical issues. Following the workshop we hope that participants will join us in sharing our enthusiasm for recent developments in social media question asking research with a broader audience through contributions to an edited volume or journal special issue on this topic.

Workshop Schedule

Workshop Papers


Social interactions mediated by information and communication technologies often play a role in information seeking [4, 13]. One common form that such interactions can take is social media question asking, in which a user appropriates Internet technologies to ask a question in natural language to either their own social circle [7, 11, 12, 15], strangers [2, 9, 14], or topical experts [6, 10, 17]. Researchers have recently begun to explore the role of social media question asking in the larger information-seeking ecology [4, 9, 12, 18], and have even built tools that attempt to integrate traditional web search into online social media question asking environments (e.g., socially embedded search engines [5]).

Studies of social media question asking have investigated the phenomenon on a variety of platforms, including social network sites like Facebook [7, 12, 15, 19] and Twitter [3, 14, 16], community Q&A sites like Yahoo! Answers [1, 9] and StackOverflow [10], expertise-oriented venues like Aardvark [6], Quora [17], and IM-an-Expert [21], mobile venues like Naver Mobile Q&A [8], and human-computation tools like Mechanical Turk [2]. Social media question asking in specific communities has also been a topic of inquiry, including investigations into social media question asking in the enterprise [20], among the blind [2], in Asia [22], and among mobile phone users [8].

This workshop seeks to engage the social media question asking research community, including those pursuing foundational work on identifying and understanding social media question asking from multiple perspectives. We envision that participants will employ a variety of conceptual and methodological approaches to questions of interest, including the use of social science theories and methods as well as the development and study of new tools that support social media question asking. Additional relevant themes include meta-issues that are important for the social media question asking research community, such as the creation and availability of shared data sets, evaluation standards and metrics, and relevant methods and measures. Finally, because questions shared via social media often contain personal information not meant for public consumption, we will pay close attention to privacy and ethical issues related to data collection and interpretation.


1. Adamic, L.Z., Zhang, J., Bakshy, E., and Ackerman, M.S. Everyone Knows Something: Examining Knowledge Sharing on Yahoo Answers. Proceedings of WWW 2008.

2. Bigham, J.P., Jayant, C., Ji, H., Little, G., Miller, A., Miller, R.C., Miller, R., Tatarowicz, A., White, B., White, S., and Yeh, T. VizWiz: Nearly Real-Time Answers to Visual Questions. Proceedings of UIST 2010.

3. Efron, M. and Winget, M. Questions are Content: A Taxonomy of Questions in a Microblogging Environment. Proceedings of ASIS&T 2010.

4. Evans, B. and Chi, E. Towards a Model of Understanding Social Search. Proceedings of CSCW 2008.

5. Hecht, B., Teevan, J., Morris, M.R., and Liebling, D. SearchBuddies: Bringing Search Engines into the Conversation. Proceedings of ICWSM 2012.

6. Horowitz, D. and Kamvar, S.D. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Social Search Engine. Proceedings of WWW 2010.

7. Lampe, C., Vitak, J., Gray, R., and Ellison, N. Perceptions of Facebook’s Value as an Information Source. Proceedings of CHI 2012.

8. Lee, U., Kang, H., Yi, E., Yi, M.Y., and Kantola, J. Understanding Mobile Q&A Usage: An Exploratory Study. Proceedings of CHI 2012.

9. Liu, Q., Agichtein, E., Dror, G., Gabrilovich, E., Maarek, Y., Pelleg, D., and Szpektor, I. Predicting Web Searcher Satisfaction with Existing Community-Based Answers. Proceedings of SIGIR 2011.

10. Mamykina, L., Manoim, B., Mittal, M., Hripcsak, G., and Hartmann, B. Design Lessons from the Fastest Q&A Site in the West. Proceedings of CHI 2011.

11. Morris, M.R., Teevan, J., and Panovich, K. What Do People Ask Their Social Networks, and Why? A Survey of Status Message Q&A Behavior. Proceedings of CHI 2010.

12. Morris, M.R., Teevan, J., and Panovich, K. A Comparison of Information Seeking Using Search Engines and Social Networks. Proceedings of ICWSM 2010.

13. Morris, M.R. and Teevan, J. Collaborative Web Search: Who, What, Where, When, and Why? Morgan & Claypool, 2010.

14. Nichols, J. and Kang, J-H. Asking Questions of Targeted Strangers on Social Networks. Proceedings of CSCW 2012.

15. Panovich, K., Miller, R., and Karger, D. Tie Strength in Question & Answer on Social Network Sites. Proceedings of CSCW 2012.

16. Paul, S.A., Hong, L., and Chi, E.H. Is Twitter a Good Place for Asking Questions? A Characterization Study. Proceedings of ICWSM 2011.

17. Paul, S.A., Hong, L., and Chi, E.H. Who is Authoritative? Understanding Reputation Mechanisms in Quora. Proceedings of Collective Intelligence 2012.

18. Pirolli, P. An Elementary Social Information Foraging Model. Proceedings of CHI 2009.

19. Teevan, J., Morris, M.R., and Panovich, K. Factors Affecting Response Quantity, Quality, and Speed for Questions Asked via Social Network Status Messages. Proceedings of ICWSM 2011.

20. Thom, J., Helsley, S.Y., Matthews, T.L., Daly, E.M., and Millen, D.R. What Are You Working On? Status Message Q&A within an Enterprise SNS. Proceedings of ECSCW 2011.

21. White, R.W., Richardson, M., and Liu, Y. Effects of Community Size and Contact Rate in Synchronous Social Q&A. Proceedings of CHI 2011.

22. Yang, J., Morris, M.R., Teevan, J., Adamic, L., and Ackerman, M. Culture Matters: A Survey Study of Social Q&A Behavior. Proceedings of ICWSM 2011.




Mark Ackerman is a professor at the University of Michigan, where he focuses on CSCW and social computing, particularly collaborative information access, privacy, social computing, and the sociology of information.

Lada Adamic is an associate professor at the University of Michigan and a member of the data science team at Facebook. Her work focuses on the structure and dynamics of social and information networks, including information diffusion and expertise sharing.

Nicole Ellison is currently an associate professor at Michigan State University; she will be joining the University of Michigan as an associate professor this winter. Her research focuses on relationship development and initiation in online contexts.

Darren Gergle is an associate professor at Northwestern University, where he focuses on CSCW and computer-mediated communication, particularly multimodal dialogue as well as multi-lingual and cultural issues in peer-production systems.

Brent Hecht is a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University and an incoming faculty member at the University of Minnesota. His work examines user-generated content from a cultural and geographic perspective.

Cliff Lampe is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, where he studies how and why people use social media, and the outcomes of that use.

Meredith Ringel Morris is a member of the neXus group at Microsoft Research, where her work focuses on CSCW and Social Computing, with a particular emphasis on collaborative and social search.

Jaime Teevan is a member of the Context, Learning, and User Experience for Search group at Microsoft Research, where she studies how personal, temporal, and social context can help people use digital information more successfully.