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Sociability

Sociability is a term akin to usability, which was proposed by Jenny Preece. Instead of being about interacting with the software, it is about interacting with others, across the software. It mostly refers to the degree to which the community is supported and safe-guarded by the application and its policies.

As Preece has formulated it, it encompasses first of all the purpose of the application: What is it for and why would people want to be there? Secondly, the kind of people that are there, their attitudes, or sub-culture, and their mutual support and openness towards newcomers are important. And the third factor are the policies that govern the community (or allow it to govern itself).

If these things are done wrongly, it is hard for a community to grow, or to continue to flourish. Other things that could go wrong in the social sphere, and put off users or newcomers, are: not responding to e-mails in time, and showing hostility towards (seemingly) stupid questions asked by newcomers. This also ties in with usability, as ideally the software should be self-explanatory.

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