Xu Zhang. (2017). The Quality of Virtual Communities: A Case Study of Chinese Overseas Students in WeChat Groups. Global Studies Journal, 10(3), 19–26. https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-4432/CGP/v10i03/19-26
“Netnography” has been developed for online community researchers. It is “net” plus “ethnography,” which is based on the traditional ethnography and combines with the qualitative analysis for online interactive contents forms of virtual community members. The aim of doing netnographic research is to study the subculture, interactive process and characteristics of collective behaviors of online communities (Kozinets 2009). Follow the development of Internet technology, the web–based method is more convenient and cost–effect in data collection. Members in virtual groups create a large number of interactive texts, pictures, network expressions and other original information over time, which provides an extremely rich database to researchers. Moreover, from the data collection’s point of view, this online observation method will not interfere with the whole research process, which is better than questionnaires and quantitative modeling (Moisander and Valtonen 2006). Additionally, Kozinets (2009) also pointed that netnogrpahy emphasize on the research background, observers not only focus on the text during communications but also need to pay attention to the characteristics of language, history, meaning and communication types. Even parse fonts, symbols, images and photo data. These content of studies are significant in social communication, which is called “Cultural Artifact.” On the other hand, netnography is based on traditional ethnography as a methodology; therefore it inherits the research processes of ethnographic method. Kozients (2009) reinterpreted these procedures for netnography as Firstly, to determine the research target and understand its cultural characteristics; Secondly, to collect and analyze information; Thirdly, to ensure the credibility of interpretation; Fourthly, pay attention to research ethics; Lastly, to obtain respondents feedbacks. To make my research adapting to this guidelines, I make my research process as 1. To target on Plymouth Chinese overseas students and to explain the Chinese guanxi; 2. To collect and analyze data through the existing WeChat group created by Plymouth Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA); 3. To confirm the identity of key influencers in this virtual group; 4. To get feedbacks from respondent as much as possible.