What words reveal about online community

word usage in communities

Research by Bryden, Funk, and Jansen looks at word usage in Twitter, and finds that communities can be characterized by their word choice. Even better, the words used by an individual can accurately predict the community that user belongs to.

We all speak in our own workplace jargon and the acronym-laden tech community, myself included, is more guilty of this than most. This study reminds us that words are about more than information transfer—they also serve as tribal identification. The words we choose to use on a public social network are a way of signaling the community we belong to as much as the suit or T-shirt and jeans we choose to wear to work each day.

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