CASE STUDY

Donation Coordination by Volunteer Networks

Method — Log Analysis, Content Analysis

Combining quantitative and qualitative coding of archived communication logs gave the best of both worlds—the big picture plus quality time with the most significant message threads.

Log analysis of multiple sites of coordination. Hand-coded linguistic features in a subset of messages. Designed and administered a survey to get basic demographic information on volunteers.

A collection point for donated supplies headed to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. (Photo Credit: flickr/Barrett Aspach)

A collection point for donated supplies headed to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. (Photo Credit: flickr/Barrett Aspach)

Research Questions

After Hurricane Katrina, people used the communication tools with which they were familiar, like blogger or craigslist, to coordinate the delivery of material donations. How did they self-organize? What challenges did they encounter?

Design Insights

Exposed a tradeoff in community organization. Sites with an authoritarian approach to coordination had less conflict, but decentralized communities, such as craigslist, had greater longevity. This finding focused our design attention on identifying frequent sources of conflict, such as identity and fraud, and mitigating them by strengthening reputation systems.