The Zephyr Help Instance: Promoting Ongoing Activity in a CSCW System

TitleThe Zephyr Help Instance: Promoting Ongoing Activity in a CSCW System
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsAckerman, MS, Palen, L
Conference NameProceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI"96)
KeywordsCMC, collaborative help, collective help, computer-mediated communications, e-communities, electronic social spaces, expertise sharing, help, knowledge sharing, media spaces, norms, organizational interfaces, social maintenance

If Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) systems are to be successful over time, it will be necessary to promote ongoing and continuing activity, not just initial adoption. In this paper, we consider what technical and social affordances are required to encourage the continued use of a CSCW system. To explore these issues, we examine a chat-like system, the Zephyr Help Instance, which is used extensively at MIT. The Help Instance facilitates users asking questions of one another, and is an example of a distributed help and problem-solving system. We provide an overview of the system’s use as well as those mechanisms, both technical and social, that facilitate continuing its use over time.