Prominently posted rules boost participation, cut harassment online

online discussions
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Clear behavioral rules posted prominently on online discussions can markedly increase participation while cutting harassment, new research from Princeton University has found.

In a test developed with a 13.5 million subscriber science discussion group on the Reddit , the research found that rules posted at the top of the forum increased user participation by 70 percent compared to discussions with no rules posted.

Posting rules also prevented thousands of people a month from making harassing comments against the rules.

These rules change behavior by influencing - people's beliefs about acceptable conduct in online discussions.

J. Nathan Matias, an associate research scholar in Princeton's Psychology Department and Center for Information Technology Policy, and the author of the study, said the work addresses common concerns that rules could stifle freedom of expression in online discussions. He said clearly demonstrating that a community will not tolerate harassment can increase participation and inclusion.

"When you make the rules more visible, more people participate for the first time," he said.

The research is scheduled for publication April 29 by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Explore further

Oklahoma health department revised medical marijuana rules

More information: Preventing harassment and increasing group participation through social norms in 2,190 online science discussions, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1813486116
Citation: Prominently posted rules boost participation, cut harassment online (2019, April 29) retrieved 26 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-prominently-boost-online.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
36 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Apr 30, 2019
Phys.org should increase the below comment section rule set from "brevity" to "brevity, no trolling and no personal attacks (but pointing out trolling/buffoonery, superstition/creationism, crackpottery/plasma 'cosmology'/anti-DM/anti-DE, conspirationism/flat earth/anti-vaxx, and erroneous fringery/group selection/epigenetic inheritance in animals - how's that for brevity - is not personal)".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more