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Providing informational support in an online discussion group and a Q&A site: The case of travel planning

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Abstract

This study examines the ways in which informational support based on user-generated content is provided for the needs of leisure-related travel planning in an online discussion group and a Q&A site. Attention is paid to the grounds by which the participants bolster the informational support. The findings draw on the analysis of 200 threads of a Finnish online discussion group and a Yahoo! Answers Q&A (question and answer) forum. Three main types of informational support were identified: providing factual information, providing advice, and providing personal opinion. The grounds used in the answers varied across the types of informational support. While providing factual information, the most popular ground was description of the attributes of an entity. In the context of providing advice, reference to external sources of information was employed most frequently. Finally, although providing personal opinions, the participants most often bolstered their views by articulating positive or negative evaluations of an entity. Overall, regarding the grounds, there were more similarities than differences between the discussion group and the Q&A site.

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