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Breaking the Boundaries of Knowledge Space: Analyzing the Knowledge Spanning on the Q A Website through Word Embeddings

by   Haochuan Cui, et al.

The challenge of raising a creative question exists in recombining different categories of knowledge. However, the impact of recombination remains controversial. Drawing on the theories of knowledge recombination and category spanning, we propose that both the distance of knowledge spanning and the hierarchy of knowledge shape the appeal of questions. Using word embedding models and the data collected from a large online knowledge market (N = 463,545), we find that the impact of knowledge spanning on the appeal of questions is parabolic: the appeal of questions increases up to a threshold, after which point the positive effect reverses. However, the nonlinear influence of knowledge spanning is contingent upon the hierarchy of knowledge. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings for future research on knowledge recombination are discussed. We fill the research gap by conceptualizing question asking as knowledge spanning and highlighting the theoretical underpinnings of the knowledge hierarchy.


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