Using Network Structure to Identify Groups in Virtual Worlds
Humans are adept social animals capable of identifying friendship groups from a combination of linguistic cues and social network patterns. But what is more important, the content of what people say or their history of social interactions? Moreover, is it possible to identify whether people are part of a group with changing membership merely from general network properties, such as measures of centrality and latent communities? In this paper, we address the problem of identifying social groups from conversation data and present results of an empirical study on identifying groups in a virtual world. Virtual worlds are interesting because group membership is more shaped by common interests and less influenced by cultural and socio-economic factors. Our finding is that a combination of network measures is more predictive of group membership than language cues, and that both types of features can be combined to improve prediction.