International Journal of Qualitative Methods
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Active, participatory netnography, in contrast to passive netnography, is essential if researchers are to gain rich rewards from the rigorous collection of qualitative data. However, researchers should be aware of the ‘netnographic slog’; “the blood, sweat and tears” associated with eliciting quality data and encouraging active participation in online communities.
This article examines the – Supporting Nutrition for Australian Childcare (SNAC) – online community of practice, established to support healthy eating practices in early childhood education and care settings. To ensure research rigour, Kozinets’ netnographic steps were employed. Garnering member participation in this online community was a slog; most community content was contributed by few members, although accessed by many. The success (and failure) of the creative elicitation strategies implemented by the researchers to promote participation are discussed, and examples provided that could be used by other netnographers in online communities. A key consideration, however, appears to be the waning success of web-based discussion boards as an effective platform. Future netnographers should carefully consider the effort required to attract new community members and encourage participation. While SNAC is a unique resource, presenting an ideal platform to launch further initiatives, other more effective social media platforms that can support healthy eating in this key setting should be considered. If participatory netnography is to be successful, budding netnographers must be prepared to invest the blood, sweat and tears required to nurture emerging communities of practice.
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