Published in Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Communities and Technologies (University Park, PA, USA, June 25 - 27, 2009). C&T '09. ACM, New York, NY, 155-164.
This paper describes a mixed method, empirical analysis of conversation reuse in an online technical support community. I find that the same characteristics that make the conversation successful (its highly personal, immediate, and socially engaging nature) make reuse of the conversation problematic. The archived discussion and wiki are reused to satisfy an immediate need, while the ongoing conversation is reused to help learn the practice. Use of the discussion archive and wiki repository are compared, showing benefits of the decontextualized, distilled wiki content for reuse. Implications of the findings on the design of "reuser friendly" tools and strategies are discussed.