Abstract

The reality of online communities’ under-contribution issues has often been clouded with theoretical rather than real-world insight. The present study aims to neutralize this disparity, through content analysis on 196 health websites and online communities to systematically evaluate their functional and structural interfaces the ingredients for a thriving online environment. Particular attention is paid to what variables equate to successful site traffic and impressions, ultimately providing suggestions to facilitate and optimize user contribution. While the majority of health websites and online health communities offered users fairly rich information about general health concerns, user environments in online health communities significantly lacked both structural and functional cues to encourage user contribution. External sponsorship could mitigate the discrepancy between the real world situations and academic suggestions.

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