How behavior of users impacts the success of online Q&A communities

F. A.N. Yu, Marco A. Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What makes Question & Answer (Q&A) communities productive? In this paper, we look into how the diversity of behavioral types of agents impacts the performance of Q&A communities using different performance metrics. We do this by developing an agent-based model informed by insights from previous studies on Q&A communities. By analyzing the different strategies for how questions are selected to answer, we find that there are mixtures of strategies leading to the best outcomes for different performance conditions. Particularly, Q&A communities that encourage participants to focus on answering the new questions reach the best performance in answering the questions, creating the long term value, and improving the competence of solving difficulty. In conclusion, we find that the current strategies of question selection on Stack Overflow are in line with the high performance of producing public benefit from the collective attention available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2050015
JournalAdvances in Complex Systems
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Attention
  • collective behavior
  • online Q&A community

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering

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