Time to Vote: Temporal Clustering of User Activity on Stack Overflow

A new paper of mine (coauthors: Agnieszka Geras, Grzesiek Siudem) will appear in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology.

Abstract. Question-and-answer (Q&A) sites improve access to information and ease transfer of knowledge. In recent years, they have grown in popularity and importance, enabling research on behavioural patterns of their users. We study the dynamics related to the casting of 7M votes across a sample of 700k posts on Stack Overflow, a large community of professional software developers. We employ log-Gaussian mixture modelling and Markov chains to formulate a simple yet elegant description of the considered phenomena. We indicate that the inter-event times can naturally be clustered into 3 typical time scales: those which occur within hours, weeks, and months and show how the events become rarer and rarer as time passes. It turns out that the posts’ popularity in a short period after publication is a weak predictor of its overall success, contrary to what was observed, e.g., in case of YouTube clips. Nonetheless, the sleeping beauties sometimes awake and can receive bursts of votes following each other relatively quickly.