Electronic bulletin boards are among the most popular of computer-mediated communication (CMC) services, yet no performance criteria have been developed to estimate their benefits. To provide insight about bulletin boards as an information source, inform ation retrieval is characterized in terms of: 1) whether the retrieval process is active or passive, and 2) how verifiable the information is. Electronic bulletin boards are characterized as requiring active information retrieval. Verifiability is problematic on electronic bulletin boards, especially when bulletin board newsgroups are unmoderated. It is predicted, therefore, that time-conscious users will consider their search costs in retrieving information when contemplating whether to adopt a given bulletin board and CMC service, and that professional users will prefer moderated bulletin boards because of their higher signal-to-noise ratio and higher verifiability. An exploration of the model was conducted on 61 MBA students using the Internet's newsgroups for the first time.
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