My name is Charles Kiene, and I study online communities with the Community Data Science Collective at the University of Washington. I graduated with a double major in Communications and Social Sciences in 2015 from the University of Washington, and I'm currently in the process of applying to graduate programs in the fields of human-computer interactions and computer-supported cooperative work.
Experience as a researcher
In 2015, I led a research project with Dr. Benjamin Mako Hill (Assistant Professor) and Andrés Monroy-Hernández (Microsoft Researcher) that studied the effects on an online community when it is inundated with a massive influx of newcomers. Our study looked at the experience of Reddit's /r/nosleep community after it became a default subreddit in May, 2014. It's population skyrocketed from ~300,000 to 3,000,000 members in just over a year of it becoming a default subreddit. I recruited participants from the /r/nosleep community and talked with them individually in semi-structured interviews as a part of gathering qualitative data to understand how the community "survived" a massive influx of newcomers without it all falling apart. We published our analysis of the findings to the ACM's Human-Computer Interaction Conference in 2016. If you would like to read more about it, follow this link: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2858356
Experience as a gamer
If you're reading this, I may have reached out to you about participating in my current study on the phenomenon of guild mergers in World of Warcraft. I started playing WoW in 2006 when my high school friends bought me a copy of the game just so I could "hang out" with them and play. After that first trek from the verdant, flora-covered island of Teldrassil to the snow covered mountains of Dun Morogh to reach the Dwarven city of Ironforge, I was hooked. Since then, I've been playing off and on with each new expansion. My favorite classes are Warlock and Shaman, and I've raided with both in casual and semi-hardcore progression guilds.
Other games I play: League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, FFXIV, Minecraft, Don't Starve.
Research on guilds in Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) is not exactly new, and the method of ethnography for guild research isn't as strange as one may think . Over the past two decades, social scientists have studied guilds to contribute to the greater body of knowledge in human-computer interactions and computer-supported cooperative work. Guilds in World of Warcraft have fascinated me by their differences in how they're managed: some guilds are casual, social clubs while others are structured and highly organized.
This project focuses on the phenomenon of guild mergers, which is the process in which two guilds in an MMOG combine their rosters to form a larger group. Mergers of real world organizations are a natural occurrence, and some often happen when an organization is failing. For this research, my goals are to find guilds interested in merging with another guild, identify the differences in guild leadership, management, and organization, and then analyze the success or failure of the merger after gathering field notes and conducting interviews with guild leaders.