Communicative Guanxi: Making Online Discussion Forums Come Alive

Alice Shanthi Kasawi Krisnan, Purwarno Purwarno, Andang Suhendi


The present study contributed to understanding the interactive language strategies that highlighted interactivity that leads to online Guanxi that facilitates interactivity in online discussion forums. Online discussion forums were selected for this study because this is where forum members come to seek and share information collaboratively. By using the analytical framework of Herring’s Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis (CMDA), the study carried out a qualitative analysis of the naturally occurring data that was gathered from several online discussion forums discussing academic topics; the study investigated the language strategies that emerged from the data that seem to encourage interactivity in the online discussion forum. Interactivity was highlighted because it was observed that this variable was essential to keep the online discussion forum interaction on-going by encouraging the members to post. This study found that interactivity does not simply occur but must be intentionally built or worked upon in online discussion forums. Therefore, to increase interactivity in online discussion forums, forum members actively post to have discussions on-going. The study found that online Guanxi was necessary to increase interactivity in online discussion forums. Online Guanxi was formed when forum members felt the presence of others, and they trusted that the forum members would be able to share information that would be helpful. The whole process of seeking, sharing, and exchanging information was done by respecting one another’s “face”.


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