AAAI Publications, Fifth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media

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Two Paths of Glory — Structural Positions and Trajectories of Websites within Their Topical Territory
Dominique Cardon, Guilhem Fouetillou, Camille Roth

Last modified: 2011-07-05


We analyze the structure and processes of reputation building in a sample of Internet communities. Our approach uses a corpus of around 9,000 'active' French websites and blogs which have been manually labeled as belonging to a specific topical territory, such as "cooking", "crafts", or "politics". We propose a typology and map of the various structural positions that these websites may hold within their territory. This typology is essentially based on their authority status in terms of in- and out-going links and depending on whether those links come from/to outside their origin territory or not. Behind the unifying notion of "territory", we may therefore distinguish several distinct topological structures for each topic. Building upon dynamic data spanning over a period of 10 months, we are then able to exhibit characteristic trajectories of engagement into each territory and, more broadly, reputation building on the web. In particular, we suggest that there are two opposing approaches in building up online authority: either by progressively developing reputation from within the territory - thereby moving 'up' through a typical online ladder - or by exploiting fame that had been aquired prior to one's blogging activity. This descriptive model makes it possible to carry a sociological analysis of the variety of resources mobilized by bloggers to build their online reputation (relational authority, prestige, institutional support, commercial support, ...). We eventually illustrate both this phenomenon and specific successful trajectories to fame through a comprehensive study of a selection of topical territories.

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