survey of MandE NEWS email list members
Their membership of other email lists
of the survey
of members of MandE NEWS email list invited to participate
of respondents to the email survey
a percentage of all members
all respondents to the (individualised) invitations to the online
survey answered the survey questions. 96 (84%) answered at least one
question. This is equivalent to 10.06% of the total membership.
of all respondents who belong to the other 29 listed (M&E)
Equal to 82% of all those who answered at least one question
number of other (M&E) email lists they belonged to.
But see the distribution as shown in Figure 1
number of MandE NEWS members belonging to each of the other M&E
But see the distribution as shown in Figure
between M&E email lists, arising from overlapping
membership (of MandE NEWS members).
|Profile of the respondents
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Red nodes = email lists that people were asked about
Grey lines = links between email lists, in the form of overlapping memberships
Thicker lines = bigger overlap in membership
|Network analysis and diagrams created with UCINET and NetDraw, available from
lists can be linked by having some members in common. Those people may
chose to pass messages they hear from within one email list, on to
another email list that they also belong to. Strictly speaking, common
membership only creates potential links, until people choose to make use of their membership of two or more email lists.
The network diagram above shows all the links between the email lists
mentioned in question 1 of the email survey. It looks like every list
is connected to every other list, almost. With the exception of
three email lists: EGAD List, Evaluation Feedback, and MONEV_NGO
But many of these links are very tenuous. Twenty seven of the
email lists were connected to each other by one-person links.
On the other hand, in such a dense network there is clearly more than one way of
receiving a message from another group. It could go via multiple other
email lists acting as intermediaries.
The part of the network that is most likely to be effectively sharing
information is that where there are dense interconnections, and where those dense interconnections are made up of strong links (i.e. multiple people). About half the email lists
have links to others made of 4 or more people . These are shown in Diagram 2 below. Within this network, Xceval, EvalChat and
MostSignificantChange, have the most number of direct connections with
the others, and they are also the closest to the others, when all other
intermediary routes are taken into account.
This analysis has implications for how one might use scarce time.
Subscribing to all three of these email lists may produce quite a lot
of redundant information, whereas subscribing to others that are less
densly connected might provide a wider range of information. But a
complicating factor here could be the size of those other groups.
If they are very small they may not produce much information at all.
This interpretation assumes people do pass information from one email
lists to another. Perhaps that doies not happen much at all. What might
be more common is that a person who belongs to multiple email lists
will "inject" their own new information into each of these email lists
around the same time.
Further analysis is needed of this survey data and other related data
at hand. For instance, how does size of an email list relate to its
connectedness with other email lists? A positive correlation might be
expected, with bigger email lists having more connections, because
there are more members who each can afford time to have connections
with other email lists. I need to edit the network Diagram 2 so that node size reflects membership size.
And time may be on their side, bigger email
lists may be bigger because they have had more time to grow. The
longer an email list has been around, the more time there would have
been for others to hear about it and join up, even though they already
belong to another email list. There is data available out there available to be analysed, on the Yahoo website at http://groups.yahoo.com/ Any search for groups on almost any topic will bring up a list, and
each one has its membership size on display. Clicking through to the
home page of any group will then show when that group was formed (in
the Message History) section. Late Note: See some initial analysis via the Footnote below.
What may be more interesting are the exceptions: the small and new
email lists with lots of activity and old and big email lists that are
not very active. Connecting up to the active new and/or small networks
might help bring new ideas into the wider network.
Caveat?: The connections
shown in Diagrams 1 and 2 are a partial picture. If we also surveyed
members of Xceval and EvalInfo they might report different types of
overlapping memberships with the other 28 emails lists covered in this
survey. On the other hand, MandE NEWS is one of the biggest
M&E email lists, so its membership's survey responses may still be
significant indication of the overall structure.
Well, there goes a not very good theory. I looked at Yahoo groups: Top
> Science > Social Sciences > International Relations . I
copied the details of the top 39 groups. Both their size and age. Here
below are two graphs showing the size distribution of these groups, and
the relationship between group size and group age. Most groups
are small, and very few are large. Including MandE NEWS. That was not
too much of a surprise. But what was a surprise, and should not have
been, was that there does not seem to be a relationship between age and
size. Possibly because unlike firms (economic entities) that cost money
to keep running, small and non-functional Yahoo groups do not tend to
die off, because there is no maintenance cost to an inactive group.
Some of you may recognise this as being very near to a power law distribution. These can be found all over the place. See Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality for more this subject.