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Abstract

As individuals' access to the Internet has grown, so has the diversity of lifestyles and interests represented on the web. On the Internet, members of any subculture can communicate and share information anonymously and directly on a variety of platforms. Although researchers from many disciplinary backgrounds have devoted considerable attention to the nature of information practices in online communities, there has been little investigation into the information practices of adherents to lifestyles that could be considered perilous or harmful. The members of such a group, referred to as Pro-Anorexia, or Pro-Ana, characterize themselves as believing that Anorexia is not a disease, but a lifestyle choice.

This paper presents findings from a textual analysis of posts and comments on three Pro-Anorexia (Pro-Ana) weblogs. Using a Grounded Theory approach, we found that both bloggers and commenters share a diverse array of types of information in a variety of formats. Because much of the information sought and shared on Pro-Ana blogs would be considered dangerous in another venue, Pro-Ana blogs present an interesting forum for considering how the context in which information is solicited, encountered, or presented actively shapes both the information itself and the information practices of community members.