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  1. #1
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    Default The Psychology of Online Comments

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blog...-comments.html

    Some cherry-picked quotes:

    When Arthur Santana, a communications professor at the University of Houston, analyzed nine hundred randomly chosen user comments on articles about immigration, half from newspapers that allowed anonymous postings, such as the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle, and half from ones that didn’t, including USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, he discovered that anonymity made a perceptible difference: a full fifty-three per cent of anonymous commenters were uncivil, as opposed to twenty-nine per cent of registered, non-anonymous commenters. Anonymity, Santana concluded, encouraged incivility.

    On the other hand, anonymity has also been shown to encourage participation; by promoting a greater sense of community identity, users don’t have to worry about standing out individually. Anonymity can also boost a certain kind of creative thinking and lead to improvements in problem-solving. In a study that examined student learning, the psychologists Ina Blau and Avner Caspi found that, while face-to-face interactions tended to provide greater satisfaction, in anonymous settings participation and risk-taking flourished.
    What do you think of this dichotomy? I had been thinking about what it would be like to meet a member of this forum whom I've put on my ignore list. I find this person's posts altogether obnoxious and wondered if they're like that in person. And if they are like that in person have their comments caused real-life repercussions? Does this person hide behind online anonymity to get away with being odious without any repercussions, merely using us as a sounding board?

    At the same time I know there are some members of this forum who are very pleasant but quite shy, and in a way anonymity is something they use to overcome their anxieties.

    Anonymous forums can also be remarkably self-regulating: we tend to discount anonymous or pseudonymous comments to a much larger degree than commentary from other, more easily identifiable sources. In a 2012 study of anonymity in computer interactions, researchers found that, while anonymous comments were more likely to be contrarian and extreme than non-anonymous ones, they were also far less likely to change a subject’s opinion on an ethical issue, echoing earlier results from the University of Arizona. In fact, as the Stanford computer scientist Michael Bernstein found when he analyzed the /b/ board of 4chan, an online discussion forum that has been referred to as the Internet’s “rude, raunchy underbelly” and where over ninety per cent of posts are wholly anonymous, mechanisms spontaneously emerged to monitor user interactions and establish a commenter’s status as more or less influential—and credible.
    We have been told by official decree to "calm down" but I wonder if the 'trouble' lately isn't just spontaneous self-regulation against members who have no credibility left with the community at large.



    The specific context of the studies mentioned in the article is mostly news sites. I find comments sections on news sites off-putting, to the point where I avoid particular news sources entirely because of the comments sections. In many ways it's just a modern version of the editorials and opinions sections of a newspaper, and I avoid particular newspapers for their editorials and opinion sections too. And yet,

    Removing comments also affects the reading experience itself: it may take away the motivation to engage with a topic more deeply, and to share it with a wider group of readers. In a phenomenon known as shared reality, our experience of something is affected by whether or not we will share it socially. Take away comments entirely, and you take away some of that shared reality, which is why we often want to share or comment in the first place. We want to believe that others will read and react to our ideas
    I'm put off by comments sections because I don't want to "share realities" with these people—most of their opinions are offensive—but comments sections on news websites are becoming more prolific as time goes on. In fact some (e.g. one of the local papers) have gone as far as to integrate their comments sections with Facebook. I think that integrating a comments section with every news story takes away from the source's coverage. The news piece itself suffers because it becomes associated with the ravings of its often boorish audience.

    Nevertheless,

    But a ban on article comments may simply move them to a different venue, such as Twitter or Facebook—from a community centered around a single publication or idea to one without any discernible common identity. Such large group environments, in turn, often produce less than desirable effects, including a diffusion of responsibility: you feel less accountable for your own actions, and become more likely to engage in amoral behavior.
    In my experience people who post comments on a news website don't feel accountable for their actions anyway. They're mostly anonymous, and if they were accountable they wouldn't say the sorts of objectionable things they say. To me Facebook and Twitter then seem like the perfect venues for those sorts of discussions. On one hand I don't participate in those venues so it would make it so that I can read an article without having half the webpage taken up by the rantings of the peanut gallery. On the other hand Facebook and Twitter, Facebook in particular, are usually not anonymous. How is it then that diffusion of responsibility occurs in Facebook, where you'd be signing your comments with your name, rather than on the news website's comments where they might as well be signed 'd0uchebAg69'?



    What do you think?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    I had been thinking about what it would be like to meet a member of this forum whom I've put on my ignore list. I find this person's posts altogether obnoxious and wondered if they're like that in person.
    I'd wager the person would be less obnoxious in person. With some people, I bet I wouldn't even recognize them - meaning, what's posted is so internal it would never see the light of day in real life. Also: False bravado.
    Cheers, JC.
    The future is for the unafraid.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
    I'd wager the person would be less obnoxious in person. With some people, I bet I wouldn't even recognize them - meaning, what's posted is so internal it would never see the light of day in real life. Also: False bravado.
    I really do wonder, though. If they feel so strongly about certain things how could they not help themselves from making it part of their day-to-day lives?

  4. #4
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    I've been to meet-ups in the past and occasionally the reverse is true. I think it depends on how introverted the person is, and then if you were to know them well enough, it would probably come back around to representing them.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  5. #5
    Wake, See, Sing, Dance Cellmold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    I really do wonder, though. If they feel so strongly about certain things how could they not help themselves from making it part of their day-to-day lives?
    Strength of will maybe?

    Or intense repression. I know that I rarely if ever divulge what I'm really thinking about, but that's more a case of being rejected, ostracised and ignored when I did.

    Even on here I'm not really open and I find it unreasonably difficult to be so. As for the anonymitity causing 'uncivil' comments I'm a long time internet and video games player.
    Anyone who has spent even a few weeks on the internet is aware of that allure and the effects it can have on both oneself and others.

    I agree with @Jaguar it's amazing how warped a person can become, or how much they reveal of themselves, when online, which always makes it amusing to meet some people offline.

    I'm aware that I am vastly different offline, primarily due to my lack of eloquence with words and nervousness. Online people can cultivate the person they always wanted to be, but are unable to achieve because that really isn't who they are. Not everyone does this of course, but many do.

    Look at typology for example; a big blob of forer effect and wishful thinking.
    'One of (Lucas) Cranach's masterpieces, discussed by (Joseph) Koerner, is in it's self-referentiality the perfect expression of left-hemisphere emptiness and a precursor of post-modernism. There is no longer anything to point to beyond, nothing Other, so it points pointlessly to itself.' - Iain McGilChrist

    Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
    "Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.
    - A.A. Milne.

  6. #6
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    Aside from muttering "son of a whore" to myself, I am much quieter and civil in person. I express myself best in writing monologues. My ESFJ ex used to say it was kind of shocking how I seem smarter in writing. I am also more abrasive. IRL people tend to think I am nice until it's like "surprise! I am opinionated!"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffirmitiveAnxiety View Post
    Strength of will maybe?

    Or intense repression. I know that I rarely if ever divulge what I'm really thinking about, but that's more a case of being rejected, ostracised and ignored when I did.

    Even on here I'm not really open and I find it unreasonably difficult to be so. As for the anonymitity causing 'uncivil' comments I'm a long time internet and video games player.
    Anyone who has spent even a few weeks on the internet is aware of that allure and the effects it can have on both oneself and others.

    I agree with @Jaguar it's amazing how warped a person can become, or how much they reveal of themselves, when online, which always makes it amusing to meet some people offline.

    I'm aware that I am vastly different offline, primarily due to my lack of eloquence with words and nervousness. Online people can cultivate the person they always wanted to be, but are unable to achieve because that really isn't who they are. Not everyone does this of course, but many do.

    Look at typology for example; a big blob of forer effect and wishful thinking.
    Idk, people who have been super close to me know I am funny and abrupt and caustic, so I am not different, just realer, more like I would be with some one who I felt comfortable with...in day to day life I don't like to necessarily expend the energy of actually talking as much as I write. But I have always been so, I started journaling at eight or nine like any self respecting Fi type.

    Online I am more confrontational because irl I don't meet as many people openly sharing their opinions. Irl most of us also don't constantly share space with people so different from ourselves.

    I remember the shock of first realizing how people communicate online over a decade ago. But reality is people just keep this stuff inside until they are at home, with family and friends, or at a klan meeting. Online it's like seeing strangers in their underwear. The realness of it is both disturbing and addictive.

    The realness of the unreal. What a paradox.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    I really do wonder, though. If they feel so strongly about certain things how could they not help themselves from making it part of their day-to-day lives?
    Again, most people do, but keep it in church or at parties or pillow talk blah blah.

    PLUS, there is the fact that it is easier to ferociously hate a faceless idea than a person. So if you had lunch with some one who you called a cunt on the internet you might be more disarmed by their complex humanity in person, and less likely to scream at them for being a liberal or a conservative.

    Or on the other hand you still might hate them, but seek to avoid a fist fight for pragmatic reasons.

  9. #9
    Wake, See, Sing, Dance Cellmold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmotini View Post
    Idk, people who have been super close to me know I am funny and abrupt and caustic, so I am not different, just realer, more like I would be with some one who I felt comfortable with...in day to day life I don't like to necessarily expend the energy of actually talking as much as I write. But I have always been so, I started journaling at eight or nine like any self respecting Fi type.

    Online I am more confrontational because irl I don't meet as many people openly sharing their opinions. Irl most of us also don't constantly share space with people so different from ourselves.

    I remember the shock of first realizing how people communicate online over a decade ago. But reality is people just keep this stuff inside until they are at home, with family and friends, or at a klan meeting. Online it's like seeing strangers in their underwear. The realness of it is both disturbing and addictive.

    The realness of the unreal. What a paradox.
    Realer, hmm I think I can understand that. Certainly I, and I suspect most people, get more real as they interact with those closer to them.

    Although it can be odd to have different levels of closeness to different people, not everyone does this of course. For example I would find it hard to treat my parents like my friends because we have different experiences together, although there is no code and I wish to bring myself as I am with my friends into how I am in general because I believe that to me at my most honest.

    I suppose it is only natural to change around different people based on your relationship with them. Even the most self willed and individual people are reactive on some level and while they might cultivate an appearance of being static in traits, there will always be someone with whom they are different.
    'One of (Lucas) Cranach's masterpieces, discussed by (Joseph) Koerner, is in it's self-referentiality the perfect expression of left-hemisphere emptiness and a precursor of post-modernism. There is no longer anything to point to beyond, nothing Other, so it points pointlessly to itself.' - Iain McGilChrist

    Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
    "Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.
    - A.A. Milne.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffirmitiveAnxiety View Post
    Realer, hmm I think I can understand that. Certainly I, and I suspect most people, get more real as they interact with those closer to them.

    Although it can be odd to have different levels of closeness to different people, not everyone does this of course. For example I would find it hard to treat my parents like my friends because we have different experiences together, although there is no code and I wish to bring myself as I am with my friends into how I am in general because I believe that to me at my most honest.

    I suppose it is only natural to change around different people based on your relationship with them. Even the most self willed and individual people are reactive on some level and while they might cultivate an appearance of being static in traits, there will always be someone with whom they are different.
    Oh I agree, what you say is true. What I.mean to suggest is that unless you are a very calculated troll, the internet persona is probably not that much different than the true self. Of course we also have different facets of our true selves, no it's not completely static, but I doubt most people are that much different in terms of opinions and so forth.

    I do agree that some people live out wishful selves online. However, only in a shallow way and for a limited time can a person keep that up. That cracks around the edges.

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