Advances in the Study of Information and Religion


In this paper, we investigate religious information behavior by laypeople related to Christian religious belief, through a content analysis of questions posted to the social media Q&A site Yahoo! Answers. The emergent taxonomy of questions is similar to that developed to characterize Yahoo! Answers posts focusing on eating disorders—indicating commonalities of motivation and in the socio-emotional aspects of participation in Yahoo! Answers across topic boundaries. Regarding religious information seeking, the questions are particularly interesting in that they provide insight into non-factual information needs: for example, they illuminate the desire to understand another person’s understanding of religion (rather than to hear an authoritative statement of the tenets of a faith), and to communicate with others to develop an understanding of one’s own religious beliefs.