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Xanga vs. LiveJournal

mirrored from http://web.archive.org/web/20031203230425/http://www.students.haverford.edu/hchoi/final+project.htm

Xanga and LiveJournal users comparison

original title: Hat Nim Choi's complimentary study of Xanga users , as referenced by this study of LiveJournal users

I. Abstract

This study was used to explore the possible uses of web journals online by adolescents. We were particularly interested in two types of web logs-Live Journal and Xanga. Livejournal.com and Xanga.com provide a free and easy way for people to create their own sites and post frequently. Both companies are very popular and provide the same services with minor differences in options and site appearances. The major differences seem to lie in the users of the web logs. It was previously known that a large number of Asians used Xanga, but it was not known exactly if the majority of Xanga users were Asian. There were no assumptions on ethnicity for Live Journal. A survey was created and then emailed to randomly selected people and to friends of the researchers that use Live Journal and Xanga. There were 82 random and 31 responses from friends that use Live Journal. There were 55 random and 81 responses from friends that use Xanga. Reponses were sent to Haverford College's Gather server and analyzed. Statistics were run on the data to describe the differences that exist between Xanga and Live Journal users and random and non-random Xanga users.

II. Introduction

As the World Wide Web grows and develops, adolescents are using the internet increasingly for different purposes. A study has been done by the Pew Internet Project on the number of teenagers are online, the role of the internet in the lives of teenagers, and various uses of the internet. One of the main uses is to communicate with others, either through instant messaging, chat rooms, or email. Web logs are another means of communication for millions of people. Live Journal and Xanga are two web log communities in which anyone can join without cost and create their own web log. They allow Live Journal and Xanga users to post as many messages as they want, anytime they want, receive feedback, customize the site, have links to other sites, links to friends in the same web log community and integrate the most recent postings in date order.
This study was used to explore the possible uses of web journals online by adolescents. We were particularly interested in two types of web logs-Live Journal and Xanga. Livejournal.com and Xanga.com provide a free and easy way for people to create their own sites and post frequently. They are a little different from other web logs because they are more oriented towards personal information as opposed to Blogger.com where the web logs are about a certain topic of discussion. Both Live Journal and Xanga are very popular and provide the same services with minor differences in options and site appearances. The major differences seem to lie in the users of the web logs. It was previously known that a large number of Asians used Xanga, but it was not known exactly if the majority of Xanga users were Asian. There were no assumptions on ethnicity for Live Journal.
One of the issues of adolescence is the search for one's own identity. Peer-adolescent relations are associated with identity development and a web log is a perfect medium for self-disclosure to many peers (Meeus,-Wim, Iedema,-Jurjen, Maassen,-Gerard, Engels,-Rutger, 2002). Because Live Journal and Xanga have so many people using their web logs, 20 friends reading the same message is very common. This provides the maximum amount of self-disclosure with the least amount of effort. It also provides opportunities for peers to respond and say that they have the same experiences or emotions. These responses offer support during a difficult part of one's life.
Xanga and Live Journal consist of large groups of people which can be thought of as a community of peers. Young and Ferguson (1979) found that with increasing age during adolescence, peers seem to be a more acceptable source of information in matters of social judgment than either parents or adults outside the family and with adolescents being more preoccupied with their social lives, peers would be especially looked to for advice about friends.
Live Journal and Xanga are two very widely used web logs with users that are around the same age, but it appears as though the two web log communities have different members. What would make them different if they are all using web logs? One aspect that may make the two communities differ is demographics such as age, race, and sex. Another may be the purpose of using web logs. Kawaura, Y., Yamashita, K., and Kawakami, Y. 1999 correlated the gratification of a web diary with the function of self disclosure. "Self disclosure is incorporated in self expression and diaries are one concrete form of expression "(Kawaura., et al., 1999). But perhaps people use web logs to communicate with others on the net, like an open sign in book. In Kawaura's 1999 study, authors of diaries oriented towards relationships with others saw personal relationship development was a function of their diary. Xanga is particularly geared toward communication with others: it has a chatterbox on the main Xanga page of a user which allows anyone to post messages that everyone can see. For more information about Live Journal see Keith Weissglass's study. Web logs may be used to enhance friendships by providing an easy form of correspondence.

Here are some examples of Xanga chatterbox comments:

<stacEy>: yO dannie!
<josh>: yo dude...just wanted to say sup
<catthy>: hey dannie! =D
<MiCheLLe>: hey punky. :o) Juss wanted to say HEY. so hey. ttyl :o)
<anonymous>: hey where is my shOut Out.. fOol..
<eileen v.>:
heyy friend..just hittin back..take care..later punk!

Here is one example of a Xanga posting:

y does senior year hafta be so STRESSFUL?
i gueSS this wEEk in particular sEEms a bit fast paced w/the concert being this wEEkend, the AP exam & the UH placement test. got home from dreSS rehearsal not 2 long ago...ugh. and im sure u could say that other things have bEEn on my mind... costumes...riBBon...skOOl...useleSS high skOOl DRAMA...world lit...how 2 say "no"...him...MOM...bLah! im about 2 xplode here. but i must admit that im preTTy stoked 4 the concert. i beTTer sEE aLL of you there...erick...you...and my name on your chests aLL right, that's aLL 4 now friends, gOOd nite, & take care ok?


III. Methods

The questionnaire contained demographic questions as well as questions regarding the content of postings and comments received on postings. 150 emails were sent to random Live Journal and another 150 were sent to random Xanga users using the random option on Livejournal.com and Xanga.com. 18 were sent to friends of the Live Journal researcher and 1 was sent to a brother of the Xanga researcher, each with instructions to pass on the survey to their own friends. The data from the questionnaire were sent to Haverford College's Gather server where we then loaded the data into SPSS and prepared it for analyses. There were 82 random and 31 responses from friends that use Live Journal. There were 55 random and 81 responses from friends that use Xanga.

IV. Results

To examine the differences between Live Journal and Xanga users, chi- square tests and T-tests were run on all variables. The most interesting factor was the demographics of the two samples. A chi-square test was calculated to compare the frequencies of races between the two journals. There was a significant result of the chi square, x^2(4) = 160.8, p<.001. Live Journal users were more likely to be whites while Xanga users were more likely to be Asians.

Differences in Race Between Live Journal and Xanga Users


Although almost all of the T-test results were significantly different, the most interesting ones were age and average number of comments per post. The two populations of web log users were roughly similar in age but were still significantly different. A T-test shows that there is a significant difference between the mean ages of Live Journal users, (M=20.5, SD=4.9) and the mean ages of Xanga users (M=16.6, SD=2.7) where t(246)=7.9, p<.001.
When looking at the content and amount of comments and posts, Live Journal users were most often the ones who posted the most and mentioned the most kind of emotions and topics, whereas Xanga users exceeded Live Journal users in the amount of comments received and were more likely to pursue friendships both online and in the real world. The mean of the number of comments received per post by Live Journal users (M=2.6, SD=.1) was significantly less than the mean of the number of comments received by Xanga users (M=4.6, SD=.2) where t(206.5)=-10.7, p<.001.
When focusing on Xanga users only, there were also differences between the random and non-random Xanga users. Independent samples T-tests were run and again there were many differences between the two groups but focus was put on the age differences in order to select one group to analyze further. The random Xanga users (M=18.2, SD=2.8) were significantly older than the non-random Xanga users (M=15.5, SD=2) where t(131)=6.3, p<.001.

Random Xanga Users

 

 

Non-Random Xanga Users


The non-random sample was chosen for further analyses and was found that the distribution of number of friends reported was bimodal, with 45 non-random Xanga users reporting more than 50 friends and 35 reporting less than 50. The sample was split and questions concerning the role of Xanga in social relationships were compared for these two groups. There were significant chi-square differences in how often they reported Xanga use to have improved their friendships, x^2(4) = 16.3, p<.01. Those with more than 50 friends linked to their web logs had their friendships improved significantly more often than those with less than 50 friends linked.

 

Another significant chi-square result was found between categories of friends linked to and the frequency of advice-giving comments received, x^2(4) = 10.6, p<.05. Those with more than 50 friends received advice giving comments more often than those with less than 50.



Chi-square results between number of friends linked to and sex of Xanga users had significant results, x^2(1) = 5.7, p<.05. 70% of the female Xanga users had more than 50 friends linked to their web logs, while only 40 % of males had more than 50 friends linked.

Sex and Categories of Number of Friends


Reading frequencies were also divided into two groups where one sample consisted of Xanga users who reported reading Xanga web logs less than 20 times a week and the other more than 20 times a week. A significant chi-square result was found, x^2(4) = 13.5, p<.01 between the categories of reading frequencies and the frequency of comments received expressing similar experiences. The more often they read other people's Xangas, the more often they received similar comments.


V. Discussion

The results of these analyses seem to point to communication as the main reason for use of web logs by Xanga users. When looking at the significant differences between Live Journal and Xanga users, it is clear that Live Journal users are talking more about their feelings; they are expressing their sentiments more often. Xanga users seem to post comments on each others' web logs as a main part of their activities using Xanga. Those with more than 50 friends linked to their web logs have had their friendships improved, as opposed to harmed, which may help explain why they receive more advice. Most females had more than 50 friends linked to their web logs, indicating that they may put more time into this mode of communication/ self-disclosure.
Xanga sites are usually very colorful and elaborate. Even the font is different colors or the letters are alternating capitals and lowercases. Obviously, a lot of time was put into many sites as some take minutes to load due to the amount of graphics on the page. Pictures of cartoon or anime characters are common, as well as pictures of selves. Entries and comments on these sites are usually not serious and often only say hello or some other remark to convey that someone was at the site. Age-wise the typical Xanga user was in high school, the median age being 16 years old, whereas the average Live Journal user was of college age, the median being 20 years old. Erikson's psychodynamic theory of identity formation said that some self expression was needed in order to develop one's identity. Perhaps Xanga web logs are more decorative and oriented towards salutations because the average Xanga user is younger and thus at the stage of self expression in order to find their identity. They may be trying to express themselves with graphics and explore their tastes with different fonts. The average Live Journal user posts more serious and contemplative messages, this could be because they are reaching the end of their identity exploration and have deeper, more thought out messages.
Ethnically, Live Journal seems to serve a mostly white community and Xanga seems to serve a mostly Asian and Asian-American community. Xanga's mostly Asian community could be due to how it is promoted. One of the reasons why Xanga has such a large community is because Xanga users tell their friends to create a Xanga site. They want more friends to read their web logs and get involved. Mehra, Kilduff, and Brass (1998) found that the relative rarity of a group in a social context tended to promote members' use of that group as a basis for shared identity and social interaction. Since Asians are in the minority in the U.S., it would seem that they would interact more with other Asian-Americans and therefore spread the use of Xangas among Asian-Americans. This could be one reason why Xanga users are predominantly Asian.
The internet is constantly finding ways to improve online journals. It is so effortless now to post a message or add a picture or have a favorite song play in a web log. Millions of adolescents are using these open diaries to talk about their issues, explore their identities, and develop relationships. Web logs can be extremely beneficial for personality psychologists to examine intimately. Further research into the content of web postings, responses, and even graphics will supply information about youths that is unattainable through surveys or questionnaires.

VI. Raw Data

 

References

1. Kawaura, Y., Yamashita, K., and Kawakami, Y. (1998). Keeping a diary in cyberspace. Japanese Psychological Research, 40, 234-245.

2. Meeus,-Wim, Iedema,-Jurjen, Maassen,-Gerard, Engels,-Rutger. (2002). Relations with parents and peers and the development of identity in adolescence. Nederlands-Tijdschrift-voor-de-Psychologie-en-haar-Grensgebieden, 57(2), 42-57, 66.

3. Young,-James-W; Ferguson,-Lucy-R. (1979). Developmental changes through adolescence in the spontaneous nomination of reference groups as a function of decision content. Journal-of-Youth-and-Adolescence, 8(2), 239-252.

4. Mehra,-Ajay; Kilduff,-Martin; Brass,-Daniel-J. (1998). At the margins: A distinctiveness approach to the social identity and social networks of underrepresented groups. Academy-of-Management-Journal, 41(4), 441-4


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