Online Communities in Saudi Arabia: Evaluating the Impact on Culture Through Online Semi-Structured Interviews
he aim of this article is to discuss the lessons learned from conducting semi-structured interviews online in an ethnographic study that took place in Saudi Arabia during the period 2001-2002. The purpose of the study was to explore individuals' participation in online communities in Saudi Arabia and also understand how online communities in Saudi Arabia are affecting participants' offline culture. Semi-structured online interviews were used to report the perceptions of 15 participants (8 females, 7 males) about their online community experience in Saudi Arabia. After a brief background on Saudi culture, the article discusses the conceptual and methodological aspects of the study. It then discusses semi-structured interviews, highlighting the rationale for conducting them online. A discussion of sampling and participant selection follows. The article then discusses the recruitment of participants and the difficulties involved in this process. The ways in which the online interviews were conducted and the data were analysed are discussed next. The article concludes by offering a discussion of the lessons learned from using this technique.
online communities; web-based forums; asynchronous communication; Saudi Arabia; ethnography