C&IS’ Britt Takes a Deep Dive into Danbooru

Nov 25, 2019

You don’t have to be the trendiest, in-the-know web surfer to be familiar with imageboards and their wide popularity among many internet users. Love them or hate them, imageboards are cross-cultural internet forums that bring together millions of users to share images and add a splash of color all their own to the infinite online conversation.

One kind of imageboard in particular is of special interest to C&IS researcher Dr. Brian C. Britt (advertising and public relations). In his recently published article, Lessons from Danbooru, Britt outlines the uniqueness of booru-style imageboards and what he has learned from studying user behavior on Danbooru.

“Other online platforms can learn a few things from what’s drawn people to Danbooru for the last 15 years,” said Britt. “Over 200,000 people engage with this site on a daily basis. Over 3 million submissions have been made to this site and thoroughly curated by its users.”

According to Britt, the curation process that naturally occurs on Danbooru and similar nonlinearly directed imageboards is unique. Other imageboard platforms begin a discussion thread with a user’s posted media, and the thread continues as other users make replies. Each of these replies is contained as a part of the thread. This behavior is similar to Facebook’s user-to-user interactions.

However, on nonlinearly directed image boards, each post is treated as a self-contained unit, much like social media sites such as Tumblr. Users can add their own comments to a discussion thread about the content, but they also interact with each piece of content independent of the thread, applying tags and up- or down-voting the posts. This keeps the shared media at the center of the online interaction. The focus of user engagement with the media is on curating, evaluating and refining the submissions over time. For Danbooru, this means that the online content is constantly posted, curated, evaluated and refined solely by users, which ultimately offers an improved user-media relationship.

As a researcher, Britt examines how the behavior of members in large scale online communities causes the communities to develop over time. This can be a community that forms around a single hashtag or entire social media platforms. According to Britt, studying online user behavior can help us to understand how communities form and evolve.

“You’ve got a large community that’s devoted a lot of time and energy to [Danbooru],” said Britt. “What’s driving them? What’s motivating them to be involved? We need to understand that if we’re going to develop better online platforms that might make use of similar types of social or interpersonal mechanisms.”

To read the full results of Britt’s published research entitled “Content curation, evaluation, and refinement on a nonlinearly directed imageboard: Lessons from Danbooru,” click here.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit cis.ua.edu/research